Santorum on controversial remark: I was 'tongue-tied'
January 4th, 2012
10:27 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum on controversial remark: I was 'tongue-tied'

(CNN) - Rick Santorum said Wednesday he was “tongue-tied” this weekend and didn’t actually say a word that has sparked a firestorm among some in the African-American community.

Talking about welfare programs at an Iowa campaign stop on Sunday, the Republican presidential candidate was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them someone’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

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The word “black” has become the focal point of controversy, but Santorum said Wednesday on CNN’s “John King, U.S.A.” that he didn’t recall using that particular word.

“It was probably a tongue-tied moment as opposed to something that was deliberate,” Santorum said, adding that he has watched the video several times and still can’t clearly hear the word.

The NAACP responded to his statement from Sunday, blasting the former Pennsylvania senator for “singling out” African-Americans as poor.

"Sen. Santorum's targeting of African-Americans is inaccurate and outrageous, and lifts up old race-based stereotypes about public assistance," said the group’s president, Benjamin Todd Jealous, in a statement. "He conflates welfare recipients with African-Americans, though federal benefits are in fact determined by income level.”

Jealous said that in Iowa, for example, a strong majority of welfare recipients are white.

But one day after Santorum placed a surprising second to Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses, losing by only eight votes, Santorum said the pronouncement of the word was a result of unintentional stammering that simply sounded like the word “black.”

“In fact, I’m pretty confident I didn't say ‘black.’ I started to say a word and sort of mumbled it and changed my thought. I don't recall saying black. No one in that audience heard me say that,” he said.

A review of the video shows Santorum pausing before saying the word, which sounds like "black" but could also be stumbled speech. Watch and decide for yourself here.

Santorum went on to defend his record working with African-Americans.

“There's no one that's worked more - when I was a senator from Pennsylvania - in the urban communities. Black, Hispanics, as well as whites,” Santorum said. “No one worked more with African-Americans.”

He pointed to his efforts setting up programs that pair historically black colleges with federal education funding. He also said he was involved in bringing a billion dollars in private sector growth to Chester, Pennsylvania, which has a large African-American population.

“I will match my record against any Democrat or Republican in working with African-American communities,” he said.

Also see:

Paul: Gingrich a 'chickenhawk'

Iowa outcome: What it means for the president

McCain backs former foe Romney over Senate colleague Santorum

Army soldier rallying for Paul violated military ban on political activity

Romney NH ad alleges Obama broke promises


Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • NAACP • Rick Santorum • TV-John King U.S.A.
soundoff (582 Responses)
  1. Donkey Party

    Typical filthy, lying, racist right-winger. They never take responsibility for their words or actions, NEVER! Where is their "personal responsibility" that they're always preaching about? All right-wingers are cancers to society, and should be regarded as the worthless sub-humans they are.

    January 4, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  2. Jason

    He obviously said, "...make (lives) people's lives better..."

    January 4, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  3. TheRevolution

    Sounded like he was about to say black and then thought better of it. Either that or "blah."

    January 4, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  4. Dalfrom CA

    I heard the Black people he did not want to say it but did it anyway.
    What a moron.

    January 4, 2012 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  5. O

    Ladies and gentleman, the real Rick Santorum.

    Ron Paul 2012

    January 4, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  6. TheAmericanPeople

    Sounded like "black" to me. I think his stream of consciousness (or bigoted republican ignorance) meant and said "black". Because there were (and rarely are) people of color in his repugnant audiences, his political correctness was on recess with the rest of his congressional buddies.

    January 4, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  7. enuff

    Taking a page from Ron Paul's book. He didn't approve the newsletter, even though it has his name on, and came from his organization, etc.

    January 4, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  8. izy

    typical republican, bias, racist and liers, he meant what he said...just like the rest of them repubs

    January 5, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  9. Scott

    I disagree with Santorum on just about every possible political view, but after watching the video, it sounds more like jumbled speech than anything else. Oh, well, it's still early. I'm sure he'll make a legitimate, outrageous comment soon enough.

    January 5, 2012 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  10. T'sah From Virginia

    ►“I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them someone’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”◄

    Wow, Santorum believes that just BLACK PEOPLE are on welfare???
    Hmm, maybe that is what Ann CULTer meant when she stated without fear
    "Our Blacks are better than Their Blacks” and they don’t need any handouts
    This is what ALL of the candidates from the RIGHT are now all about?

    You have ginGRINCH wanting to put "poor" Black children in ghettos to work;
    Paul stating Blacks will “stop rioting” in LA once their welfare checks are dispersed;
    PerryWinkle with his N-Word Stone he proudly visits to practice “shooting animals;"
    And CAIN – "Black as Black can get" trying hard NOT to be Black – damn that’s criminal;

    Romney having illegal Mexicans manicuring and cutting his grass outside…
    and most likely that was the closest he ever had "people of color” by his side;
    Bachmann stating our forefathers fought hard to end all slavery and she’s knows better than that;
    Now Santorum with his shiny forehead and 1 missing chromosome looking-self stating the above about Blacks!!!

    You see – this is when it’s going to get NASTIER!!!!

    Obama 2012 – The ONLY answer America!!!

    RIGHT Blacks are not on welfare?

    January 5, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  11. Linda King

    Santorum is playing to the choir of white Evangelist using the word "black." He subliminally alludes to the belief that only black people are on welfare and they are on it because they don't want to work. He further implies that Obama "the black guy" is only interested in keeping black people on welfare. Santorum suggests that black people are shamelessly taking money from hard working white people and it must stop. His well chosen words made him number 2 in the Iowa campaign. However, his irresponsible and racist remarks are being scrutinized and he now explains that he OOPS, like Perry and really said "blah" instead of "black". Why some of his best friends are black.: he knows black people. What a moron.

    January 5, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  12. joe

    yep, he said black!

    January 5, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  13. joe

    Don't think there is any black people in Iowa.

    January 5, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  14. ct

    typical republican response, what did u expect from this bunch

    January 5, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  15. T'sah From Virginia

    Listening to the tape – his lips said Blaa" – trying to cover it up made it worst!! I actually heard this live and my mouth dropped but I dismissed it because no one brought it up. So maybe my first impression was correct!

    Obama 2012

    January 5, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  16. find out before you speak

    I was sure hoping to catch him saying "black," but I am pretty sure what he did was say "lives...people's lives."

    January 5, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  17. IVOTE

    He clearly said the word black. To alienate a race of people who work as hard or as any other American citizen is disgusting and reinforces what many already believe; "Racism is alive and well in the USA.

    January 5, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  18. Lui

    He definitely said "black people." Not sure how well that's going to go over Rick.

    January 5, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  19. Wade

    "No one in that audience heard me say that" I'm impressed that he asked everyone in the audience whether or not they heard the word "black". Guess he's as industrious as he is crazy.

    January 5, 2012 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  20. OrangeW3dge

    Freudian slip, doesn't qualify as a Tongue-tie.
    There is no reason to believe that this mochi doesn't have a segregated mind.
    But the bigger issue still stands. If poor and disabled people are in a situation that they qualify for help, ignoring their inability to help themselves only precludes some un-tanned privileged-class kid making them work for the benefits.

    January 5, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  21. OrangeW3dge

    He definitely said the work "black", but it is obvious that he knew he shouldn't as soon as he said it. Worse, however, is he now says that he is "confident" that no-one heard him...
    Good enough to qualify as an "Oops", and he best be aware that he will be watched very closly from now on out.

    January 5, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  22. Just make it up

    Sounded to me that he did say "black" and he paused a second to decide if he should use the phrase.. and he did. I listened to his excuse, and listened to him say striaght faced that he didn't say "black people." He went on to assure us all that he has many african american friends.. and even took a busload of african american kids on a field trip because .."They don't get as much government help as others." Isn't he in the party who doesn't believe in giving federal aid to people????

    January 5, 2012 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  23. Tisha

    He said it.

    January 5, 2012 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  24. Ramesh Shrestha

    Let's play the audiotape and we will tell whether or not he used the word 'black'.

    January 5, 2012 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  25. DNice

    Well I have seen the interview and heard him say "black people" and some in the crowd clapped bout 90%. Jus think what he says in private. The sad thing is I vote democrat and its things like this that make me one not want to be open minded to a republican point of view. And two affirms that I'm voting democrat across the board. Will admit its not going to be a walk in the park for PRESIDENT Obama but comments like that draws attention to how there party in a bad way. So thank you. And he wants to represent me as president I don't think so....
    OBAMA 2012.....

    January 5, 2012 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
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