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. jack

    Santorum is frustrated. He knows he can't win the nomination. Losing Illinois sealed his fate and it shows in his demeanor.

    March 26, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  2. BigRed

    Santorum is becoming more and more like his Google definition. He really stinks.

    March 26, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  3. Somewhat Funny

    I always thought of him as a whiner and now he whines when someone repeats his words. He is losing and showing that he will be a whiner of a sore loser. America is not ready for a taliban like government Rick.

    March 27, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  4. dan5404

    How dare you accurately quote me after some of my followers told me I went way overboard again! You reporters should know not to ask me what I actually meant...give me some time to make up a different version to get out of another foot-in-mouth episode. C'mon man!

    March 27, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  5. Michael

    Wow.. reporter quotes Santorum directly... and Santorum freaks out, cries like a baby, and now is saying hes being harrassed? Good god, hes acting worse then Palin after she got caught not reading any newspapers.

    March 27, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  6. Troy

    Really Rick? Really?

    March 27, 2012 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  7. trumod

    What's that Christian rule...? Wasn't it something about turning the other cheek? NO! It's "Curse the Reporter Who Asks Uncomfortable Questions!"

    March 27, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  8. Grampa

    Santorum and Gingrich are finished. They both know that have nothing further to achieve except hurting Romney. In Gingrich's case, I think that's his true goal. Maybe Santorum is coming around to that view also. Since Romney is certain to be the Republican nominee, the other two just help President Obama by staying in. Works for me!

    March 27, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  9. Etch

    Ricky's whining is really tiresome at this point. And now when he says something negative, he then denies he said it (LIES!). The pressure of knowing the writing on the wall says it's over for him is making him crack. Poor Ricky – he should throw in the towel before he makes an even bigger fool of himself. But hey, if he doesn't, I'll enjoy watching the meltdown.

    March 27, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  10. Jimmy

    what a childish little tirade.

    March 27, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  11. Hank

    Profanity is how someone with a weak mind tries to communicate forcefully.

    March 27, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  12. Klaark

    "Hi, I'm Rick Santorum. I stopped running for president months ago and am now using campaign donors' money to lay the foundation for my next career as a conservative talk show host."

    March 27, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  13. diamondliving

    Rick Santurum...your such a thug! We see right through you.... Your the Bully!!!!!! Your the one who is attempting to intimidate reporters!!!!!! You were questioned about something you said VERBATIM and you accused the reporter of bullying you?? Really??? Your plan is to get donations from rethuglicans just like you by blaming the "liberal media" ...get a new game. You will NEVER BE PRESIDENT!!!!! This country is not a theocracy last time I checked!!! Rick your such a right wing nut job!!!!!

    March 27, 2012 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  14. fandancy

    You're getting desperate and it's showing, Ricky. Adios!

    March 27, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  15. Cortanis

    Don't get me wrong, I hate Rick for many reasons as a candidate. However, if you're a reporter and you seek to badger or otherwise incite a person, you better be expecting a negative reaction. It wasn't really distorting his words, but they already had the comment and such. No need to go there.

    March 27, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  16. Taxi

    Is it just me, or is Santorum looking and acting more like Andy Kaufman as the days go by?

    March 27, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  17. Santorum is becoming less and less Presidential

    He needs to GET OUT!!!

    March 27, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  18. Realist

    It's funny that Ricky boy still thinks that people should speak positively about his negative message. That darned media, being all liberal again by reporting on the truth, rather than reporting with a conservative spin.

    March 27, 2012 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  19. CaliforniaBC

    This is so funny. Santorum is like Palin.... "Damn you liberal media using my own words against me!"

    March 27, 2012 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  20. JJ

    Pass the popcorn. This circus they call the "GOP Primary" is hilarious. They make better clowns than they do candidates. :)

    March 27, 2012 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  21. deeceeuci

    Santorum: All the charm of a septic tank engineer with the with and humor of a federal tax accountant.

    The best thing anyone who runs against him can hope for is that he opens his mouth. Which he does all the time, and out of which I am yet to hear an intelligent, cohesive statement that provokes intellectual debate and discourse. He is about 90 years to late to the podium.

    March 27, 2012 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  22. dakota2000

    I don't think we need an "angry white man" for president.

    If he can't control is temper, he needs to get a prescription for vallium or something...

    Anyways the health care debate, is not really a top priority for the nation at the moment. We got to eat first (get jobs) before we worry about health care. Its called Maslovs hierarchy of needs.

    Or am I the only person who took a psych class in college to meet pretty sorority girls..

    March 27, 2012 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  23. Jackie

    Calling himself the only real Christian candidate and having no respect for his own daughter shows who the real Rick Santorum is. Choose your words Mr. Santorum as now Rick is sounding dirty his Rush Limbaugh. Most men respect women and don't curse in front of them but I guess Republican/Tea Party men are different. What's interesting is I was walking in a store an two young men were cursing at each other, they saw me and apologized for using those words in front of me. Just think kids have more respect for women then a man running for President.

    March 27, 2012 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  24. brainjohnson2011

    Uh... Santorum is right on this one. Listen to what he always says... "uniquely unqualified to run against Obama b/c he created the blueprint for Obamacare." He says this over and over and over. The quote was clearly taken out of context, and if you pay any attention to the nonimation race you this. I agree w/ Rick. These reporters need to stop distorting his words. They are truly disgraceful.

    March 27, 2012 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  25. craig

    "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.

    I compare that to the Jesus I learned about when I was young, and somehow that just isn't the picture I have. Somewhere there is a monumental disconnect between the ideals of the man in the Bible and this caricature running as a "Christian" candidate.

    March 27, 2012 04:28 am at 4:28 am |
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