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. joey

    Santorum loves to talk about cutting government expenditures, and relying on yourself. But while homeschooling his kids, he collected $73,000 in unwarranted tuition reimbursements from the Penn Hills Pennsylvania School District for an online charter cyber-school - even though, by his own admission, they lived in Virginia 11 months of the year, and he was making $165,200 a year as a U.S. Senator at the time. (Virginia does not pay for students to attend online schools if a local real-world school is available, as it was to Santorum's family.)

    Santorum claimed he was a valid resident of the Pennsylvania school district because he owned a house there - which cost $88,000, compared to the $690,000 he paid for the house they actually live in. The only problem with that story is, he rented the Pennsylvania house out during the time he was supposedly a resident.

    After this was discovered and publicized, Santorum pulled his kids out of the cyber-school, but refused to repay the $73,000. As a result, the State of Pennsylvania had to pay another $55,000 to settle a lawsuit by the local school district demanding repayment.

    January 5, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. joey

    Santorum was involved in the coverup of fellow Senator (and friend) John Ensign's adultery scandal. After losing his reelection to the Senate, Santorum went to work for Fox News. He was there when Doug Hampton - the Ensign aide whose wife Senator Ensign was sleeping with - decided to go public. Hampton emailed Santorum and Megyn Kelly (who also worked for Fox), seeking a meeting to plan how to go public.

    Instead of reporting on the case or referring it to Fox reporters, Santorum called Ensign to warn him that the scandal was about to break. Ensign called a meeting that night to tell his staff about the affair and plan a response. Ensign eventually had to resign anyway, and the Senate Ethics Committee concluded that Ensign violated federal law in attempting to cover up the scandal, including offering Hampton a job and seeking clients for his consulting business.

    January 5, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. Maltheus

    "They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and regulations low, that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom or in cultural issues. That is not how traditional conservatives view the world." - Rick "Big Government" Santorum

    January 5, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. joey

    "The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical. ... What I’m talking about is onward American soldiers. What we’re talking about are core American values. - Santorum

    January 5, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  5. joey

    "I think some things maybe were maybe taken out of context. So I will not call him the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal that perhaps others would want to call him - I'll let his wife call him that instead." - Sarah Palin, after Santorum criticized her.

    January 5, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. joey

    "If you're a Republican, if you're a Republican in the broadest sense, there is only one place to go right now and that's Mitt Romney." – Santorum, February, 2008

    January 5, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. dyg

    He said "black."

    January 5, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. joey

    "I didn't say black people. I started to say word and kind of went 'bleurgh' and mixed my thoughts. I started to say one word and came up with a different word and moved on." – Santorum, the next day

    January 5, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. KH

    " 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."

    This same statement...almost verbatim including the statement of 'non-bias' is appearing so often across the internet that it is obviously a posting point that was distributed as spin control.

    January 5, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. martha

    The truth is, he speaks for all of us. None of us want our hard earned money to be taken away and given to black people on welfare. period. How much have these black people on welfare given any of us? They have given nothing to society as a whole. We all know this to be true. period.

    January 5, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. capers8

    "The NAACP responded to his statement from Sunday, blasting the former Pennsylvania senator for “singling out” African-Americans as poor." Uhh African Americans are the poorest race in America...

    January 5, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Jack Be Humble

    I believe we should all give him a pass on this one. Fifty years ago, the candidate might have used a far more derogatory word.

    January 5, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. dyg

    Wonder what the black sound guy is thinking?

    January 5, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. RPE

    Oh my goodness. He misspoke, or better yet he spoke accurately! I always find it interesting to watch the liberal blitz assign racist or bigoted ideology to any conservative thinker. It is a non story that many who post here are happily lathered up ready to unload on. However, when the current president insults law abiding Christian gun owners that is all ok with liberals cause "they are on the other team" right? It is sad that many of you do not care to sit back and really think about what you are doing to the country. I cannot see one policy that Obama has put in place that actually helps anyone to move ahead in life. No, actually all of the policies he has implemented seem intent on continuing the indoctrination that you should rely on the Feds for your lives. Santorum wants you to do MUCH better than what the Feds can provide you for free, but it will require that you earn it and make some sacrifices along the way to achieve your goals. Recall that idea is called "The american dream". It cannot be handed to you as many of you feel it should be, you must sweat to get there. So, because I see Obama as anti-american, anti-business, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, I anticipate the standard liberal response of name calling and racial profiling. Too bad many of you have been fooled into not thinking for yourselves.

    January 5, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. LIES!!!

    Santorum... you called it the way you view it. You very clearly said "black." Now it is time to own up!

    January 5, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. capers8

    Btw it's pretty clear that Santorum was trying to say "a lot of people's lives" not black people's lives

    January 5, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Al

    Santorum is a "former senator" for a reason. He didn't retire, he was voted out. Why would Iowa want to make this idiot President?

    January 5, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. Jimbo

    Santorum is a butt pirate that likes to play with dead babies.

    January 5, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. Birdwatcher1

    Folks, guess what, it doesn't matter what Santorum (gag, sputter) said – as it is going to be Romney, and not Santorum, Gingrich, Perry, or any of the others who win the nomination.

    But yeah, of course he said "black" – good grief, what an imbecile.

    January 5, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. Jay

    He never said "black" He was going to say "lives" and stopped and then said "people's lives" it's pretty clear if you watch the video. Anti-republicans just want him to have said it.

    January 5, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. MAFV

    Trust me if blacks were the majority of people collecting welfare in this country, there would be no welfare. Mr.Rum why don't you take a trip down to your local social services office and tell me how many black faces you see....I believe then you can make an educated comment. Listen up us black people tell Mr. Rum we'll see him at the ballot box...that's the way you shut bigots up like this.

    January 5, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  22. KH

    google > "lives..people's lives..."

    complete with the quotes and you will see the results of a panicked spin control campaign

    January 5, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. Thom Kurtz

    sounds like "a lot of" people to me, not "black"

    January 5, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. Birdwatcher1

    Oh, Martha, Martha, what a hateful person. So sad.

    January 5, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  25. MAFV

    Wowww!!!! what ignorance from posters....I thought America had gained a little knowledge about disparities in this country...sounds like a lot of trailer trash talk to me.

    January 5, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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