Santorum accuses reporter of 'harassing'
March 26th, 2012
09:23 AM ET
3 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. paulbark

    Santorum is not ready for the big times. PA sent him home years ago. That's where he needs to stay. The more he talks, the more he proves that. His presence shows just how weak this GOP field is.

    March 26, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. badcyclist

    I am with Rick. I am sick and tired of having NYT reporters quoting him accurately and asking him to explain what he meant. That's b******t.

    When Santorum is president, I hope that he shuts down the press, suspends habeas corpus and runs the country with an iron fist, like the Founders intended.

    March 26, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. Trusting Soul

    I am surprised he didn't feel like "vomiting". I'm sure Santorum once worked in a yarn mill. He spins things very well.

    March 26, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. batjones

    Mr. Santorum's explanation is that Mr. Romney is the worst Republican to put up against President Obama on the healthcare issue. He actually is trying to bifurcate the presidential nomination along policy lines. This explanation actually requires further clarification. It is my understanding that the Republican Party will put up only one candidate for President, and the nominee will run on all issues not just one or a select few. Does Mr. Santorum propose that the Republicans should run Santorum as the nominee on healthcare policy, Romney on Defense policy, Gingrich on energy policy and Paul on finance policy. Does Mr. Santurm dispute that the US Constitution establishes a unitary executive in the Presidency?

    March 26, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. Kimo

    Santorum appeals to the worst instincts in people. The United States is a diverse culture made up of a races, ethnic backgrounds and religions. Santorum would represent white, male CINOs (Christians in name only). Do we really need a narrow minded President who does not believe in science or critical thought and, like Bush, might launch a war because God told him it was the right thing to do?

    March 26, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. maljazur

    GOPers get extra credit for walking the tighrope of claiming Christianity and yet behaving as un-Christian as possible. THAT is the not-so-straight and narrow they sing about in their hymnals...

    March 26, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. TamarS

    Santorum seems like a clone of GW Bush. That would be terrible for everyone all over again!

    March 26, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  8. GOP Hate America

    Awww poor little persecuted religious nut cant handle being questioned on his own stupidity. waaaa wwaaaa....typical conservative. They love to dish it out but cant handle it when its thrown back at them.

    March 26, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. mb2010a

    For a so-called "religious man", he seems to have a potty mouth. I don't ever recall Jesus saying anything like that in the Bible...and he was treated a lot worse than Santorum ever will be by the press.

    March 26, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Keep talkin Ricky. You are a gift to President Obama. Obama/Biden 2012!

    March 26, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. normajean @ verizon ,com

    Poor Rick.....he is so picked on.....I"d like the chance to stand in front of him and tell him what I and millions of other women think of his destructive plans for womens health rights. He wouldn't mind the press when we got through!!!

    March 26, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. Larry

    Why is everybody always picking on me? That whining sounds like another republican candidate who was always being picked on by the "lamestream" media. Two peas in a pod.

    March 26, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. kevin

    How many times has pope santorum stuck his foot in his mouth during this campaign? How many times has the media, rightfully so, called him out for stupid comments he has made?

    Enough times that he shouldn't have feet, let alone legs. For this alone, I have to question why anybody in their right mind would vote for him, given the continual backtracking over his comments he makes.

    March 26, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. J.Crobuzon

    But he actually DID say exactly that! Has he apologized yet? I'm sure that as a "Christian," he'd like to do the right thing. Ha! Ha! Of course I am joking! It's not a lie if you really believe, is it?

    March 26, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  15. Charles

    Won't vote for the guy, but I love his tude towards the press.

    March 26, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  16. Norm

    Oh my goodness Richard (DICK) did you learn that kind of language in Sunday school?
    Lies and profanity from the champion of family values.
    LOL....give us a break
    Who are these people?

    March 26, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. mfx3

    Boo. All those reporters trying to report. What BS. Media elite and liberal conspiracies, all of them. Everyone in this country is a media elite and liberal conspirator. Only Rick Santorum and the founding fathers know what the word "patriot" really means. Free market. God. Etc.

    March 26, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. Debby

    Oh brother Santorum backpeddling again it came from his own mouth. What is wrong with the Republican party get this man off the campaign trail. The sad part is bible belters vote for this guy who are suppose to be so God like.

    March 26, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. Jane

    Hey Rick, get off the cross, we need the wood.

    March 26, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. Chris

    Who supports guys like Tantorum anyhow? People just as ignorant as him I guess.

    March 26, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. Jake

    Santorum thinks that was bad? What do you think Obama gets all the time from the likes of Fox News? Hell, the entire network is based on criticizing whatever Obama does. That's on top of getting criticized from the "liberal media"; he gets crticized in the NYT (and the Washington Post) who conservatives say is "liberal" even though that's who they always cite whenever there's something they want to validate (e.g. Dick Cheney's claim that Iraq had WMD's based on article in the NYT about possible evidence of Iraq purchasing weapons-grade plutonium. Remember the Valerie Plame Wilson debacle?). Any conservative ever cite "Fox News" or Rush Limbaugh as evidence to their claims? Nope. Exactly. Because when they do use information from the likes of Fox News or some conservative blogger, the next day everyone just debunks it with real evidence. Using Fox Network as evidence is like using those spammed emails to conservatives about how evil Obama is as evidence.

    March 26, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  22. Marie MD

    Little Satan doesn't think he is getting enough attention? Poor little misguided dark soul.
    Thin skin!

    March 26, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. Wow

    For everyone who hates Obama, have you ever heard Obama get angry or bitter or lose his self-control in front of a crowd? Whatever you want to say about his politics, Obama is epitome of a gentleman and a christian. Compare the candidates the GOP has up there to Obama when it comes to temperament and demeanor. Newt is a volcano waiting to go off at any moment and Santorum makes some of the most irresponsible comments that he later has to backtrack from. I don't think Mitt is what America needs (the rich getting even richer) but he is the only one from the Right that is skilled and intelligent enough to offer some hope of diplomacy as our leader, which is lost on the other two blowhards.

    March 26, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. LeRoy_Was_Here

    Won't Santorum go to Hell for saying naughty words?

    March 26, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. Wow

    You have "Flipper vs. "The Backtracker"...and Obama still might lose the election because of the new rules allowing the rich to buy elections and spread thier lies without retort. Amazing.

    March 26, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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