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. clarke

    It is time for Rick to call it a day, his true, true colors are coming out. This race is really getting to him, because he realizes he has no chance.

    March 26, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. Monbois

    Santorum, like Gingrich and Chris Christie, knows that he'll score political points with the far right-wing nutjobs if he's a beligerant bully to reporters. This is hos they also try to intimidate the media keep journalists from asking relevant questions. Instead of barking at her like a junkyard dog, he should have specifically addressed what it was she was supposed to have distorted. If he was foaming at the mouth about the remarks he'd just made about Romney, it's on video for all the world to see and hear. But hey, the guy's a big creep, so whaddaya want?

    March 26, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  3. SurRy

    Republicans are the biggest bunch of think-skinned whiners.

    March 26, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. Monbois

    SF: Half the country hasn't voted for Santorum. Less than half of the registered Republicans who bothered to vote have voted for him. There are millions of registered Republicans who've been sitting this out because they're digusted with all the GOP candidates, and in most states ONLY registered Republicans are allowed to vote in the primaries. So don't get too depressed; the corporate media fails to clarify exactly how many people are actually voting compared to everyone who will be able to vote in November.

    March 26, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. John

    Once again one of the Rethuglican candidates makes a statement in public and then denies it afterward, blaming the "liberal media" for the reaction.

    don't these idiots realize that virtually all of their statements are recorded? Its hard for them to lie effectively when the press can replay what they said.

    March 26, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. albert

    These make pretend Christians just keep getting better and better don't they.

    March 26, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. V in Chicago

    Oh, how I hate this man. His "holier than thou" crap has gotten on my last nerve. He is not the type of Christian I was raised to be. I was taught that Christianity was about accepting the differences of people and not trying to make them in to a clone of what you thought they should be. Santorum is NOT a Christian! Based on his inability to control his temper, it is obvious he is not what he wants us all to think he is. He saw the very small opening in the race for an evangelical (since he was the only one left in the race) and he is playing it for all it is worth. Which, in his case, it not much.

    March 26, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. keeth

    "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.

    How very Christian of him.

    March 26, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. Joshua Ludd

    I wonder.. will Fox News complain about this as much as they did Biden's BFD shirt? No, of course not. Why? Because Santorum is a republican.

    March 26, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. Rudyard Kipling

    What a Christian!

    March 26, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. Ol' Yeller

    A Republican candidate playing the vicitm?!?!
    Other than pure unadulterated fearmongering and out and out lies, do they have another strategy? I've been involved in politics for over 40 years and I have yet to see any different strategies.
    If santorum picks palin for his running mate, will they have to share the victim card, both play it at once, or do they alternate days?

    March 26, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. Dave

    Santorum has proved again HE IS THE ETCH A SKETCH. He says he is conservative, but then attacks Romney's success in the private sector. He says he is the best person to fix the debt, but he voted to raise the debt ceiling 5 times. He says he is the most electable, but he alienates many independents. He says he wants what is best for the country, but then says Obama would be better than someone else from the GOP. He says unions are bullies, but he worked closely with them in OH and MI. What a joke!

    March 26, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. Tom

    I thought that part of being a good Christian was NOT to curse anyone out.What a pandering POS this man is.

    March 26, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. GOP media conspiracy

    Another lame brain that thinks the "media" is out to get him. He got caught saying something he did not want to say so he plays victim like the other GOP candidates. They think people are out to get them like commies, socialists, little green men, etc.

    March 26, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  15. EcurbtheProphet

    I don't like reporters either... because they seem to be more interested in making news than reporting it.

    But, when a "leading" (not my words) Republican Presidential candidate says things like, "... if you haven't cursed out a New York Times reporter... then you're not a real Republican," then I have a problem.

    Why is a Presidential candidate "cursing out" anyone? What message does it send when a candidate of ANY political party equates "cursing out" with being a "real" member of that party?

    That is obviously not a positive message and this is not a candidate who should be given due consideration – for any office, and especially not the office of the Presidency.

    This negativity needs to stop – from both sides. They (politicians) are tearing this nation apart, and it appears to me as though it is very intentional.

    Who is going to stop this?

    That's who gets my vote – and I could not care any less which party he or she represents. I would personally prefer that person not represent either, as I truly feel it is more necessary to place a wedge between them.

    March 26, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  16. gregor1971

    Santorum's decorum is anything but presidential. Romney has to deal with lies from the left on a daily basis, and you see him take it in stride and let it roll right off. Heck, Obama and his supporters have spent million against Romney already, and you don't see him paying one bit of attention to it. Santorum could learn something here.

    March 26, 2012 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. hockey10

    Mr. Santorum, where are the family values? Your kids are listening and you go 'four letter?' Is this the example you want to give them? Time to quit, Rick. I'm from Wisconsin, and we don't like that, you'll see.

    March 26, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  18. denver2

    What an angry, repressed little man Santorum is.

    March 26, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  19. FRANK - LAS VEGAS

    With little Ricky it's always the fault of someone else, isn't it. I'm surprised he didn't blame President Obama.

    March 26, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  20. cashmeremafia

    So, "Romneycare" makes Romney unqualified to run against Obama, yet Santorum endorsed him in 2008. Looks like Romney isn't the only flip flopper....

    March 26, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  21. Joe 617

    How can a politican be held accountable just because he says something?

    the day before.

    March 26, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  22. Jay Shapiro

    Yup, the little liar from Pennsylvania is looking real presidential. Looks to me as if he's heading for a major breakdown.

    March 26, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  23. ret jr

    So where are all Santorum's supporters? Why aren't they here defending him? It's because they really don't care that he's a foul-mouthed embarrassment to himself, that he's a hypocrite and a liar, that he's a fiscal liberal etc, etc, etc.... What they really like about Santorum is that he's not a Mormon. All other trumped up qualities attributed to Santorum are just a smokescreen for religious bigotry. After he fails in the Republican primary, I'd encourage Santorum to establish the American Taliban party and take all his bigoted followers with him.

    March 26, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  24. 3511danny

    Good for him. These lefty reporters can be obnoxious at times.

    March 26, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  25. Morgan

    Look, the majority of Americans know this guy is nuttier than a fruitcake; we know he's drinking the Kool-Aid. And like his kooky counterpart, he too will end up with a tell-all book, a reality show, and an unintended grandchild.

    March 26, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
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