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. Retired Army in San Antonio

    NATHAN WIMBERLY

    I just watched him on the news. He most certainly DID NOT say black. This is a bogus issue.

    January 5, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
    ----------------------------------------

    Yes Nathan.....you certainly ARE dillusional :-( .

    The good news is that they have medication for your issues :-) .....

    January 5, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. IDEAS and IDEALS not ideologies

    Freudian slip and that's all I have to say. He holds those stereotypes deep inside and did not mean to embarrass himself like that. Now it's utterly dishonest on his part to state that he did not say that word. He should go back and listen to it and let's see what he has to say. He dug the hole even further by talking about stammering. Has anyone on this board heard Rick stutter before? I hope he embraces honesty, truth, and respect as guiding principles of his campaign. The presidency is not worth his soul.

    January 5, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. CBR

    Deed are most important. If Mr. Santorum has a poor record in PA and in the Senate then, by all means go after him.
    Mistakes while speaking can be disastrous but it is better to look at the whole record. Other cand9idates might not have as much backing if their past remarks and records are really examined.

    January 5, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. JohnP

    Once again there CNN, what is the problem if he said black, and blacks can say white? Is it OK to say NAAColoredP?

    January 5, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. steve harnack

    His tongue wasn't tied, it was loosened by ego.

    January 5, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. Marcus

    I listened through that a few times and even with the earwig telling me that I just HAD to hear the word "black," it didn't happen. There are enough reasons not to vote for the guy to continue to make this an issue, because it clearly is not. Go back to hating him for being his usual self and stop wasting press money on this.

    January 5, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. lsgyrl

    He said Black. Don't try to make it something else.

    January 5, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. Chad S

    I've heard random audio clips from Santorum for years now. This guy is just a plain phuck nut. He has no shot of winning on the national stage once people learn more about him.

    January 5, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. madmaninthemiddle

    Well, it sounds to me like he said it, but let's say he didn't and let him off the hook for a second. What I find disturbing is people who say "so what's wrong with saying black" as if the issue is that he didn't use the PC term "African-America." No, that's not it.

    Others on this blog are arguing about what percentage of welfare recipeints are black, or what percentage of blacks are on welfare. This also misses the point.

    What is wrong with the statment (if indeed that is what he said) is that it implies a) that all welfare recipients are black and b) that all blacks are on welfare. I own a business in Prince George's County Maryland. There is a huge, thriving, upper middle class population here. And 70% of them are black. The idea that most blacks are poor (or lazy, or uneducated) is just plain wrong. Not morally – factually.

    January 5, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. steve harnack

    Even if he hadn't said black, where do these Republikans expect poor people to live and what do the expect them to eat while they are waiting to "take advantage of opportunities"? When you have nothing you can't take advantage of anything!

    January 5, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. Adam

    Nancy

    Why is being politically correct so important nowadays? He called it like he saw it..

    The problem here NANCY, is exactly that. He is saying he sees welfare as aid to the black community specifically, he has singled them out. The problem is, in IOWA, the MAJORITY of people on welfare, are not black. So for him to "SEE" it this way, inclines people to speculate if he will always assume blame should be placed inaccurately based on steriotypes.

    January 5, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. miketofdal

    what interested me more about this was the 'crawler' along the bottom of the Santorum video (see still shot, above). It reads: "Pentagon to end strategy of US able to fight 2 simultaneous ground wars." Are you kidding me? Is this a joke off of Onion.com? I'm no military strategist; I'm somewhat of a dimwit about these things, really. But is it wise to tell your enemies that you no longer have the capacity to run two ground wars at the same time? Is it possible that two of our enemies could agree to work together to create 3 or 4 ground wars for us to fight, just so we could stretch resources that we don't have?

    January 5, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. Buster Bloodvessel

    I saw the video; he said 'black.' He's lying and it's contemptible.

    January 5, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. Balls McGhee

    all republicans complain about black people. i hear it all day with the ones i work with. they make stereotypes all day long but when confronted, "oh we're the party of lincoln who freed the slaves!" deep inside they hate Obama because they dont trust a poor black man to run the country. itis the turth! and deny it all you want but you know deep inside and with all your GOP friends, that you talk crap on black people. i am there in the room with you!

    January 5, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  15. Buster Bloodvessel

    I saw a blog post this morning giving Santorum no more than a few days of honeymoon before he said something that completely ripped his butt with half the voters. Wow, that guy was psychic.

    January 5, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  16. 4 More Years

    runner305 and everyone else that doesn't get it: The problem isn't with the WORD black, the problem is that he was directly equating blacks with welfare. As a percentage of thier population within this country, blacks have a higher rate of subsistence. This is true, but not even mentioning that the majority of welfare recipients are white, if you look at the quality of education for poor people (majority are non-white) there is no wonder why. In the next coule of years, the real story of the GOP will be unveiled...the percentage of white welfare recipients is going to skyrocket because the 1% keeps "cashing in" before, during and after a recession and the middl class is almost gone and the majority of those people are white. Wake up America. This isn't about race, religion, or any of the subterfuge the GOP puts out there. There is a class war coming and I know what side I am on and it's not the 1%...

    January 5, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. Alan J

    What a damned LIAR you are Santorum! We will NEVER see you become President of This Country dude! You racist lunatic! You said what was in your heart and soul..black soul, oops! Nancy you are just like him sad it's still going on in this raggedy country 300 years later! You are a coward more than a liar to say to John King and all the viewers who saw and heard you say I don't want Black people to get other people's money! Be a man and say hey I slipped up and spoke my heart and i hope you Elect me Anyway those of you Americans who think and feel the way I do, like Nancy!

    January 5, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Here's a tidbit about Iowa's most popular "faith and moral values" candidate, Rick Santorum. Just days ago, the Pennsylvania conservative raised some eyebrows while talking about diversity at an event in Ottumwa, Iowa. The motto "E Pluribus Unum" is latin for "Out of Many, One".

    Originally suggesting that out of many colonies or states emerge a single nation, in recent years it has come to suggest that out of many peoples, races, religions and ancestries has emerged a single people and nation – illustrating the concept of the melting pot, or diversity.

    -------------------–

    "I was at a debate with Howard Dean and we were asked what was the most imp quality of America and he said diversity. Diversity? Have you ever heard of e pluribus unum?....The greatness of America is people who are diverse coming together to be one," Santorum said. "If we celebrate diversity, we lay the groundwork for that conflict. We need to celebrate common values and have a president that lays out those common values."

    January 5, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  19. Buster Bloodvessel

    miketofdal, generally if we don't want a ground war, we bomb the enemy into submission. You didn't see Reagan, Clinton, or Daddy Bush hugging the tarbaby of war; they bombed, went in and did the mission, and got out.

    January 5, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  20. Dr.D

    So what's the controversy? He realized a bit too late that what he was about to say was racist and he tried to pull the word back. Alas it was too far into the talking process to get back and his real thoughts emerged for all to hear... a little squelched by the attempt to swallow the word "black". Totally consistent with his values and world view.

    He wouldn't stand a prayer in the general election and would be a liability as a Vice Presidential candidate. Let us hope he is able to keep going for months. He serves as a useful reminder to all independent voters of what the Republican party really stands for.

    January 5, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. t.marino

    Considering most folks on welfare are "white" he is wrong on all accounts. Surprising isn't it.

    January 5, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. No way

    Don't let his feeble excuses fool you. He said exactly what he meant. Google "Santorum racism." You'll find other examples of racist words coming out of Rick Santorum's mouth.

    The first paragraph of this article says this has "sparked a firestorm among some in the African-American community." That's a ludicrous understatement. "Some" in the "African-American community?" I'm white and outraged, and this is going to snowball on him. This has motivated me to do everything I can to get the word out on this creep, who has now added weasel behavior to his racism.

    Thank you, Rick, for showing us your true self so early.

    January 5, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. Ed DFWTX

    I wonder if Santorum knows the "Blacks" like Donald Trump? No wonder the GOP is out of touch with our Country today. It seems like the GOP today is mainly composed of the 1% and angry old White people who hate change, people different from themselves, and progressive ideas.

    January 5, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. Steve

    It's amazing how people are lining up to be offended. He didn't say "black." It sounded to me, clear as day, "lives..people's lives..." He stumbled and started over the sentence. And I'm not a Santorum fan/supporter.

    January 5, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. bawana

    good ole frothy the santorum,,willin to let raztus earn a liitle cash just like gole boy newt wantin all those poo kids sweeping up after all they massa's mess

    January 5, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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