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. knowndoyen

    Why is CNN along with most media outlets giving the guy in a distant second place so much attention? The Republican frontrunner is Romney. So Santorum added 10 delegates but Romney added 5 in the last Primary. Why are they not covering the frontrunner? It's really odd to see so much press given to the guy that will not be the nominee. If Santorum was a true leader and showed real concerned about the Republicans getting the White House back he would drop out along with Gingrich. But Santorum and Gingrich are in it for themselves and you have to wonder what the voters are thinking to vote for these guys. As an independent watching these primaries it seem none of the Republicans really want Obama out. If they did they would start backing the frontrunner and start making their case against Obama and not each other. Santorum and Gingrich need to lead by example and drop out and back their partiy's nominee.

    March 26, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  2. mary

    Isn't that funny??? He does the same exact thing to everybody else, but when it's him who gets his words taken out of context, it's bulls***t. WOW! Doesn't that tell a story!!

    March 26, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Britannia

    His goat has been got! If he doesn't have the patience to deal with a reporter elegantly (without him or her getting his goat) then how will he deal with all the pettiness that goes along with being POTUS?

    March 26, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. Chris

    It's a good thing the Times reporter didn't ask him what magazines he reads. You know, the ultimate trick question.

    March 26, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  5. Ron

    These guys never get tired of playing the victim, do they?

    March 26, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  6. guest

    Clasic crybaby, things don't work out perfectly and he blames everyone else, do we really want THIS as president?

    March 26, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  7. Chris

    Yeah, way to go, NY Times, "distorting" the candidate's words by quoting him verbatim. Next, you'll be wanting to invoking facts – oh, the horror!

    March 26, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. blindbear

    Typical Republican hypocrisy. Porn is terrible and destroying this country yet replying "bullsh!t" to a reporter is a rite of passage to prove you're a real Republican. Do as I say, not as I do.

    March 26, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. once upon a horse

    you mean real religious conservative folk use curse words??? Oh the horror of it all. Another "do as I say, not as I do"

    moment for the pious religious right.

    March 26, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. Pander Bear

    Rick is becoming completely unhinged – er, more so.

    March 26, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. Doug Ericson

    The NY Times is just another agenda rag with meaningless cartoon like editorials.

    March 26, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. Shann

    Santorum is so full of it. He said Romney supported the national health care model. Romney never supported that. In his effort to make others look bad, Santorum is bringing the republican party down. Does Santorum have a big enough band-aid to mend the wounds he is inflicting??

    March 26, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. lloyd roberts

    Wow, that's so cool and holy. "You're not really a republican until you have cursed out a NY Times reporter. Wow, how adult and Christian. At least the NY Times is an American owned company and not a foreign owned agitator like the FOX news network. Owned by an someone who's country only exists because of FDR and the Pacific Fleet

    March 26, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. Al-NY,NY

    how typical that a republican says something, then is called on it, and then cries victim....

    March 26, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. out of step

    Out of touch, unstable, angry white man, who wants to be president. He spouts so much hatred and negativeness that even he forgets what he is mad about... and then he accused Obama of being a divider? What scares me more are the people who support him..."Pretend it Is Obama" says the lady behind him as he is aiming a gun at a target.

    March 26, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. WhatWouldJesusDo

    I think we can see from Ricks growing agitation an insight into his true character. Mitt Romney is the best choice and has been since this race started.

    March 26, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. Brent

    sounds kinda whiney to me.....whats wrong Rick, can't take the heat?

    March 26, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Anonymous

    What Rick is saying here just doesn't make sense to me. IIF Obamacare and Romneycare were the same thing, like Rick claims,then it would give Obama one less thing to criticize Romney for. It would mean Obama admitting that Romney was the better candidate by coming up with the idea first. I don't see how that makes him the worst candidate to put up against Obama. If they aren't the same thing then its not worse. Obama will criticize whoever he is running against.

    March 26, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. tstorm92

    Santorum is one of the most racist, bigoted, hateful people ever put forth by the crazy, right wing-nut GOP!

    March 26, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. Nobama

    This joke will not shut up until GOP voters/people in PA deal him with another embarrassing defeat.

    We will wait and see. Tom Ridge, former PA governor and current GOP senator from PA: Toomey already endorse Romney.

    March 26, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. tstorm92

    Rick Santorum is the worst Cahtolic I have ever heard speak. He preaches extremism, hate, and intolerance, and God is not the source of extremism, hate and intolerance. The GOP is really, really screwed up this time around!

    March 26, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. GI Joe.

    ...........wait - is he about to put is wife or daughter on stage to defend him?

    March 26, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  23. DenInNooYawk

    Yes Rick, it plays well to the religious bigots to curse out New York, Times, Liberals, Gays, Science, Women, Good Governance, Reason...keep knocking it all, they LOVE YOU!!!

    March 26, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. bppack

    how many times does Santorum think he can very clearly say something, then plausibly deny that he said it?

    March 26, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  25. Michael

    You aren't a true republican? That is why the republicans have trouble appealing to indepentants. If you disagree with anything they happen to believe in then they do not consider you to be part of their "team". What further proof do you need than this when it comes to blame who has been dividing this country. It started when Clinton was president and it's only getting worse. This "one way of thinking" is what will doom them in November.

    March 26, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
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