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. dutspup

    Santorum, would you like a tissue?

    March 26, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. indyreader

    Santorum has gained much of his limited notoriety by being, to use a utilitarian word that doesn't capture the real nuance of what I want to say, blunt. He says things in very un-nuanced, un-qualified ways, courting, as he undoubtedly knows, the Republican base who sees things in only simple black-and-white terms, who reflexively dislike anyone who says things in a style that's not also equally simplistic and black-and-white. And then he gets upset at the press treating his utterances as simplistic, black-and-white and un-nuanced? Hoist on his own petard, he is. Also, a putz.

    March 26, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. Amazing

    But when a Fox News reporter behaves the same way toward President Obama, it is called good journalism! What a hypocrite!

    March 26, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. Sister Golden Hair

    Jesus would not approve of that foul language.

    March 26, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    No excuses...extremely unpresidential. He is a phony who pretends to be a devout and religious family values candidate.

    March 26, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. UhmNoLiberalYouAreWrong

    Nobody here is addressing the simple fact of what the reporter said.. Because they hate republicans..
    Santorum in speech: "Romney is uniquely the worst republican to run against Obama because of his health care position"
    NYTimes reporter: "You said Romney is the worst republican in the country?"
    Santorum to reporter: "What speech did you listen to? Quit lying. "

    March 26, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. Sniffit

    Well well well, appears Ole' Frothy worked himself up into quite a lather.

    March 26, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  8. Annie, Atlanta

    Only in rightwing lunatic world is using your exact words to ask a question considered harassing. It's unbelievable how this "christian" thinks he can treat people. That's some presidential material there, Ricky. But not surprising. Anyone who can preach hatred and intollerance and claim deep religious beliefs out of both sides of his mouth, is usually an opportunistic hypocrite anyway.

    March 26, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. Valentina

    Santorum is losing his marbles – he is so desperate to save his flailing campaign that he doesn't even understand himself what he is saying anymore – it hurts to watch and listen to this poor man.

    March 26, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  10. andym

    Seriously, I am amazed by the amount of media coverage Santorum receives, who is he? It's almost impossible for him to be the nominee...he is a racist, bigoted, unstable person who lost his last senate election by 18 points. Romney is the nominee for the republican party. Why is there barely any coverage of Romney while Santorum gets all the coverage. Is it because showing a balanced, sane, polished guy like Romney as the republican nominee doesn't really help Obama?

    March 26, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  11. Scott

    So how can we trust out President with nuclear weapons when he is so prone to temper tantrums? Maybe we should elect my 8 year old nephew to be president. He always throws a tantrum when he gets caught saying something he wasn't supposed to...

    March 26, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  12. Michael in Houston

    enjoy your time in the spotlight Santorum. All one needs to know about you is to ask the people of PA what they think of you when you were their Senator. You lost your seat by a crushing defeat. Your theocracy and moral agenda matters only to the a select and narrow group within the base. You have NOTHING that will even come close to you winning a general election. The fastest was to see Obama get re-elected is for you to be the GOP nominee. You will be crushed in again in defeat in a general election. The only other GOP candidate that could actually be worse then you would be Palin.

    March 26, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. Bill in Florida

    Sounds like Santorum was in favor of bulls hit before he was against it - both in the same day! How flip-flopping is that?

    March 26, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  14. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    wow how can the far right evangelicals even THINK about voting for the "potty-mouth"?? They just need to support the one true Protestant that is running for president and that is President Obama. :)

    March 26, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. Go Ricky!

    It's about time we have a candidate who speaks the truth. The liberal media hates him because he does speak honestly and represents opinions of many conservatives. God help us if Obama gets re-elected. This country is going down the drain very quickly and people are much too brainwashed to see the truth.

    March 26, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  16. RunRunAway

    A Christian, a potty mouth, and a liar.

    March 26, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. Claude Gothic

    How dare some Noo Yawk reporter actually ask Santorum what his own words meant!!!!

    March 26, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. GI Joe.

    Better get his daughter to save him - maybe run the rest of the campaign for him. He's toast.

    March 26, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. Susan Prock

    Republican hypocricy always amazes me. How I hate their arrogance and vicious agenda. I can only pray that the health care bill is upheald by the Surpreme Court.
    Santorum is a Christian Reconstructionest and wants to end religious freedom in this country. Is everyone ready for a Christian version of Saudi Arabia?
    i am a Christian and Jesus is my Savior, but I also believe in the seperation of church and state! Santorum does not!
    Santorum overreacted. The reporter quoted him verbatum.

    March 26, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  20. Eli

    What a good Christian he is. Fake like most of the Republicans that claim to be so religious.

    March 26, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  21. ChuckB

    Rick looks as if he is going to cave-in any minute. In one photo of him about this issue on another web page he appears to be on the verge of tears. Along with him being as irrational as he has been regarding his religious beliefs and as much as he has vacillated in his stances on the issues this could be a foreshadowing of emotional instability. Santorum is too far removed from reality to trust with a positon of power.

    March 26, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. clarke

    Does this man have no class. He acts like a spoiled child, not a leader of anything. If things don't go his way, he gets a bit testie, I would say. When one is President, a lot of things don't go your way and you have to just take it like a duck out of water, let it roll off your back. You don't get mean. I really think Rick has a mean streak in him. Wonder what happens if his wife or children disobey him. scares me.

    March 26, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  23. Willie James

    Conservative always blame the media for the stupid stuff they say themselves. Interesting tactic that was developed under Nixon....blame the messenger. Hard. Fast. Loud. Like the word bullshit, Rick? You just spread some. Using Fox was ingenious as well, they dont fact check.

    March 26, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  24. Louis

    Santorum IS THE WORST PICK to go against Obama. Santorum is TOO RIGHT WING and will only appeal to a third of the voters, ensuring an Obama victory in November. GOP – wake up and smell the coffee!

    March 26, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  25. newz4i

    This guy can't handle our press? Imagine his finger on one of our buttons, which has the power to take down a country.

    March 26, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
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