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. Melo-D

    Classic GOP. Say something, get called out on it, then deny ever saying such a thing even though they have you on tape. Spin it as an attack by the liberal media, watch the donations fly in from the GOP sheeple..Rinse, repeat.....

    March 26, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  2. marty

    It becomes clearer with each campaigning day that Santorum is not a paragon of virtue, nyet!

    March 26, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Rick Santorum / Rudy Giuliani

    2012 A deal you cant refuse

    March 26, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. Educator 36

    Rick may be hoping for nod as VP–of course he has to criticize the media as a good republican, you know, gottcha questions, etc...

    March 26, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  5. Donkey Talk

    Rick, you need a vacation. Go away. Far, far away.

    March 26, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  6. Mavent

    Ever notice how much Republicans hate it when their words are quoted back at them? "It's harassment, I tell you!"

    March 26, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  7. jimbo

    Santorum says the New York Times reporter "I was aggressively attacked by a New York Times reporter" isn't that a bit of an exaggeration. Kind of a sensational depiction of the exchange of words between two people. When someone is aggressively attacked they usually have some kind of physical injury. Of course our last republican president was worried about being aggressively attacked by Iraq and we all know how that turned out, it was an exaggeration of the facts.

    March 26, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  8. Charlie from the North

    Hey Sanatorium I support the 2nd amendment too but why to you right wig blow-hards always forget all the others. Fredom of the Press is not just for Fox to be free to lie and you are one of the single biggest threats to freedom of religion/

    March 26, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  9. Learn to Fish

    Leave it to the Atheists to explain what it means to be a Christian...

    March 26, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  10. martin

    If he can't keep his emotions together during a campaign, how's he gonna doing under REAL pressure as president?

    March 26, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  11. FooledAgain

    I'm not a Santorum fan, and I actually like the New York Times. But I'm on his side on this. Reporters spend so much time trying to 'manufacture' news by inciting the junior-high-school-popularity-contest "but so and so said you are a... what are you going to do about it?" crap. It's so infuriating that they have so little respect for themselves, the public, and our democracy. Creating news is a rampant epidemic that is destroying the living, thinking tissue of our democracy for the sake of selling newspapers and advertising.

    Santorum was making a point in the context of one of the most important Republican hot issues, health care. Any MORON knows he didn't literally mean "worst Republican in the country." Surely there is a Republican that was just in a car accident that has 90% brain damage, blah, blah, blah... Sometimes taking things too literally IS taking things out of context.

    Santorum is 100% right, and his reaction was 100% appropriate. Everyone in the media should be ashamed of the pathetic lows journalism has always stooped to in order to make a buck.

    March 26, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  12. Evil Hollywood Liberal

    How Presidential. Of course, he's playing to the base, by taking it out on the NY Times, but he's decidedly lacking in the decorum of the high office he aspires to. That said, i hope he stays in the race.

    March 26, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  13. Smeagel4T

    So now Ayatollah Santorum is playing such the whimpy victim that he's accusing the NYTimes of protecting Mitt Romney. It's become normal for the GOP to play the poor whining victimized paranoid claiming that everybody but FauxNews abuses them, but now they've become SUCH the poor whining victimized paranoids that they're now claiming everybody is abusing them while protecting some other GOP candidate.

    It really is true. The right wing extremists started by blaming the liberals for why the world wasn't returning to their fictional "good old days". Then the GOP got control of the government in 2001, but yet the world never returned to their fictional "good old days". So the right wing extremists had to go searching for some else to blame. They started attacking the more moderate conservatives as being "RINOs". It obvious the RINOs must be in league with the liberals in some conspiracy to prevent the world from returning to their fictional "good old days".

    March 26, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  14. hUNTER

    So, when the reporter asked him about what he said, he gets mad at the reporter? He DID say that, so what's the matter with being asked about it? Oh, you're a Republican...nevermind, I get it now. ANY questions from the "liberal, gotcha-journalism" media is out of bounds. Whiner!

    March 26, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  15. Jay

    Those CONservative morals are kicking in.

    March 26, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  16. O.T.

    Obama's entire career is based on deception, so this is no surprise to those who listen to what he says and follow his career.

    March 26, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  17. springthecat

    I didn't say what I just said... True politician

    March 26, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  18. Big Al

    My hero.

    March 26, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  19. kent

    Signs of great dispair. I know that how the things going on the nomination is getting inside his bones. However, hee should not let his political aspirations to drag him down the drain. He must accept the bitter truth that at the moment, White house is not ready to welcome him. And that he still has his family, friends and some people who love and care for him.

    March 26, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  20. Norm

    Good "Christian" as normal. Just like our governor here in Texas who was caught saying "adios, mofo" to a reporter. Anyone who votes for these people need a shrink.

    March 26, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. I don't like him

    but I don't blame him either.

    March 26, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  22. pprty

    I said "Santorum needs a nap". Is that too vulgar?

    March 26, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  23. GOP Observer

    Rick McGovern is 3 primaries away from a breakdown .... give it a rest Rick – bow out now so you can come back in 2012 or 2016 Otherwise you will be ostracuzed from the Party and your only choice will be to go the way of Arlen spector and become a Democrat .... or maybe a priest

    March 26, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  24. baycap

    He's not a Christian. He's a politician pandering for the Christian vote. Pride goeth before the fall. Say goodnight, Rick.

    March 26, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  25. normajean @ verizon ,com

    Isn't this person old enough to know {as WE all do} that almost anything that is said to a newsman is filmed and the next day can prove you to be a liar when you claim, as Mr. Santorum likes to do....that he didn't say that!!!!!! If you haven't figured this out......you are a Republicant!!!!!!

    March 26, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
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