Santorum accuses reporter of 'harassing'
March 26th, 2012
09:23 AM ET
2 years ago

Santorum accuses reporter of 'harassing'

(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Monday defended his profane comment directed at a New York Times reporter and used the interaction in a fundraising pitch.

"If you haven't cursed out a New York Times reporter during the course of a campaign, you're not really a real Republican's the way I look at it," Santorum said on Fox News. "It was just one of these harassing moments, and after having answered the question a few times, sort of comes back with the same old fashion, the same old spin."

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"I just said 'Okay, I've had enough of this you-know-what,'" he added.

Team Santorum invoked the back-and-forth in a fundraising email to supporters, asking them to contribute $30, what they said is the price of a subscription to the Times.

"I criticized Romney and Obama for their outrageous healthcare legislation. Predictably, I was aggressively attacked by a New York Times reporter all too ready to defend the two of them, and all too ready to distort my words," Santorum wrote in the email. "Let me assure you, I didn't back down, and I didn't let him bully me."

Santorum accused the Times' Jeff Zeleny of distorting his words following a question from the reporter Sunday night.

Zeleny asked Santorum if he thinks Mitt Romney is the "worst Republican in the country to run against Obama," something he said while campaigning in Wisconsin.

In response, Santorum said "I didn't say that. You guys are distorting what I'm saying … Quit distorting my words. It's bulls***."

But shortly before the questioning, at a campaign stop in Racine, Wisconsin, Santorum said, "Why would we put someone up who is uniquely - pick any other Republican in the country. He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama. Why would Wisconsin want to vote for someone like that?"

The former Pennsylvania senator has made criticism of the national health care law and its similarities to the plan passed while Romney served as governor of Massachusetts a centerpiece of his campaign.

His latest "worst Republican" charge came after he was criticized last week for suggesting there are so few differences between Romney and Obama that "we may as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk," with the Republican frontrunner.

In his defense, Santorum said he would never vote for the president, but that "Romneycare" makes his rival uniquely unqualified to run against Obama in the general election.

– CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.

Also see:

Santorum: Romney 'worst Republican' to run against Obama

Ryan's open to V.P spot

Graham's 'comfortable' with Romney

Plouffe calls out GOP candidates over Obama reaction


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum
soundoff (561 Responses)
  1. Rob

    OMFG! How "profane"...as reported by the Liberal media. He said the B word. Run for the hills.

    March 26, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. stta

    The campaign has gone on so long that the candidates are going to make mistakes in their speeches and not remember exactly what was said. The only thing I am taking from this incident is Santorum left out the health care subject when saying Romney is the worst Republican. A reported later question Santorum what he meant and either he was innocently tired or was taking a calculated Gingrich move of attacking the press. I just don't know if his response was calculated or not. Either way the best Republican or Democratic candidate is the one that listens to all sides and tries to come up with the best answer not for the party or class of people but the country, Santorum with his self righteous "my way or the highway" "all or nothing" attitude is not the best candidate as he shows poor leadership qualities.

    March 26, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. E.O.

    So I thought he was also this die-hard christian who believes in following God's way and living how God wants you to live...and yet his cussing! Last time I went to church, they didn't look very highly at cussing!

    March 26, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. RINO Bil

    This is such a standard conservative practice that it is almost a characititure of itself. Your campaign is going down the crapper so you pick out a reporter and let him have it, and then blame the media for asking stupid/impertinent questions. The latest twist is to go on Fox News for a pat on the back. I am surprised that someone as young as Santorum even knew of this common pracftice.

    March 26, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. sandee

    Hey Rick, want some cheese with that whine????

    March 26, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  6. Cedar Rapids

    "Rob – OMFG! How "profane"...as reported by the Liberal media. He said the B word. Run for the hills"

    ah, you have such a potty mouth that this language is not considered 'profane' to you? interesting.
    Plus of course the main reason it got a response was his laughable denial of his own words.

    March 26, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  7. Frank, the ever-living!

    Santorum: Wahhhhhhh! Those evil reporters want to ask me questions about stupid things I said. Wahhhhhhhh! So I said "BS," and now I am the liar. Wahhhhhhh! MOMMY!!! MOMMY!!!!

    March 26, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. Silly Baggers!

    That was all very religious of you Santorum. As a Catholic it is bad enough that our priests make us look bad bu then this guy is running lose and make things worse.

    March 26, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. Get a job Hippies

    Hey to all the libs out there it is tougher for our candidates because the press doesnt feed the answers they want to hear into the teleprompter like they do for POTUS.

    March 26, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. simp

    I have been saying it for a while now, this idiot is a loose cannon and we don't need a hot head like him with his hand on the red button!!

    March 26, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. Orwell shrugs

    Besides being dangerous flip-flopping hypocrites, are these GOP candidates relevant to the future of USA?

    March 26, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  12. ART

    W#hat a joke this man is.

    March 26, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  13. Ozzie

    You just rant and rave, Ricky. Then, someone asks you about what you yourself said, and you re-write your own senseless words. Relax, Ricky. You are an angry, volatile, conflicted little boy. You simply hate too many people to serve this great nation as President. Now, just go away, and find someone who will help you grow up. As a Catholic and Pennsylvanian, I find you embarrassing and childish. Wake up, voters. Ricky is dangerous, self righteous, and divisive – hardly Judeo-Christian value.

    March 26, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. Jim

    The liberal media is a disgrace to this country.

    March 26, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  15. Saboth

    Wait, so he did say that, then he said he didn't say it. It's becoming hilarious...these Repubs stick their feet in their mouths every other day, then simply deny it happened. That might fly with Fox News viewers who live in an alternate reality, but not for those of us that live here on Earth.

    March 26, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. Anti Sarah

    Hey rick- Would Jesus swear at someone?

    March 26, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. ja

    everybody with an extra dime, oversized ego and this self righteous mentality, is not fit to be president

    March 26, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  18. Jack518

    "You're not a Republican if you don't swear at a NYT reporter." So he's admitting the GOP is full of brash, crude, obnoxious, socially inept indiviudals. This could be a new comedy routine: You're not a Republican if....you support womens' rights. Others?

    March 26, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  19. Ken in MD

    When are these guys going to realize there's video tape of their comments? If you say something in public, don't get upset at a reporter who asks you to clarify it. If you say what you mean and mean what you say, there's nothing to worry about.

    March 26, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. Orwell shrugs

    Santorum represents the finest of GOP values. His grasp of his own words and memory of those words, demonstrate his readiness to control nuclear weapons. His interactions with the press demonstrate his diplomatic skills through his religious convictions and training.

    Romney-Santorum 2012, it is the best the Republican Party of God has to offer.

    March 26, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. Zenichi-Maro

    Funny how it's "harassment" to quote Santorum back to himself, but it's perfectly reasonable dialogue to call the current sitting president a socialist, a racist, "disgraceful," a closet Muslim, an alien (i.e. not from America) and the like. Double standards are probably not twice as good as standards.

    March 26, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. windycitybill

    Ha Ha – for all of you Republicons out there, Obama will be President for 4 more years, the polls have all your rightwing nuts 10 points behind him in the General....

    March 26, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Jackson

    Oh boo hoo, blame the liberal media. However, if a Dem had said it, and FOX News was all over it, would you be calling out the conservative media for being the issue? Of course not.

    Just blatant hypocrisy, as usual.

    Santorum has had no problem attacking every last word Romney has said, at times twisting the sound bites to suit his purposes. Now that it is his turn, he suddenly wants to cry foul?

    Sorry, Rick, double standards not allowed. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    And you wonder why you trail in the polls.

    March 26, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. SickOfIt

    Typical politician. Put your foot in your mouth and then blame what you said on someone else.

    March 26, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. Sagebrush Shorty

    Who does this guy think he is, Joe Biden?

    March 26, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
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