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. corpsman

    Let's see. 1. The NYT: One of the leading newspapers in the country, for decades (look at their Pulitzers). 2. The guaranty of a free press: in the US Constitution. 3. "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": another loser republican candidate showing how little he respects that constitutional freedom, how partisan he is, and how lacking in civility and maturity he might be as president.

    March 26, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  2. Laverne

    It is so funny when these republican idiots keep saying they have the experience to be president and know more than Obama. Obama has been president for the past 3 1/2 years and they have never been president, they are such idiots. Romney seem to think being president is like sitting in a board room firing people when they get out of line, Santorum thinks he is running for Pope and Newt Gingrich seem to think using his street fighting approach and big crazy ideas will win him commander in chief. They don't have a glue and if the American people hate Obama so much they are willing to settle for one of these nutcases, they Lord help us all!

    March 26, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. corpsman

    Let's see. 1. The NYT: One of the leading newspapers in the country, for decades (look at their Pulitzers). 2. The guaranty of a free press: in the US Constitution. 3. "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": another lo ser republican candidate showing how little he respects that constitutional freedom, how partisan he is, and how lacking in civility and maturity he might be as president.

    March 26, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. Bob

    Why is this news? I swear all the time, as do most Americans. I'd rather my President act like a real person rather than a phony, BS-spewing puppet. If you're naive enough to believe that the President doesn't have the same emotions as the rest of us, please stay home on Election Day.

    March 26, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Sounds reasonable for a Republican. When asked about something you did say, accuse the reporters of distorting the statement (even though they are quoting you), then cuss them out. And then claim that being short tempered and inaccurate is the way Republicans know they are "Real Republicans".

    Yeah, that is what we want in a President, a short tempered, stupid individual with his hands on a Nuclear Trigger. Go team, go. Anywhere but here, just go.

    March 26, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. D

    Sounds like someone's getting a little cranky and needs a nap. Poh widdle Wicky!

    March 26, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  7. Bob in Ohio

    I have no problem with Mr. Santorum using the profanity. My problem is his denying he said something which he actually had said. That makes him a liar in my book and I don't want a person who lies to be my President.

    March 26, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. J.Crobuzon

    One good debate would settle santorum; Obama would make him cry in five minutes. The Chinese would terrify him, and he could never look someone like Putin in the eye. The GOP is sending a wimpy kid to try a man's job.

    March 26, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. RealityBuff

    I personally think political campaign tactics have become severely childish over the years. Even when the democrats were choosing their presidential candidate in 2008 and statements like the ones we're seeing from Santorum are purely unprofessional and childish. No matter who gets elected as president, I wouldn't want a child running the country.

    March 26, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Roger

    Re-elect Obama and turn the House in 2012:

    March 26, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  11. enkephalin07

    Maybe he's doing this to preempt future media criticism; by casting himself the victim now, he can build on the narrative whenever quoted.

    Or maybe I'm giving him too much credit.

    March 26, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  12. CJPA

    Let them talk long enough to give themselves enough rope to hang themselves! No need for any Democratic intervention or comments – the Repubs are handling it just fine, thank you very much! Also, if Mr. Santorum is going to wear his "Christianity" on his sleeve, he best watch his dirty little mouth. True colors shown~

    March 26, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Mike

    "...Now say ten Hail Marys and go in peace, my son..."

    March 26, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. mdn

    Funny how the "hollier than thou" crowd justifies vulgar speech. What would Jesus have said?

    March 26, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. Matt from Michigan

    This isn't the first time that Santorum has attempted to deny his own words. Sir, being asked to explain what you've said isn't bias, and it isn't an attack. It's reality. If you can't defend it later on, don't say it in the first place. And don't insult our intelligence by pretending you never said it or saying that you're being distorted.

    March 26, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Barryknowsbest

    This is a perfect example of how this guy will compromise everything, including national security, to chase his political agenda and preserve his legacy. Scary.

    March 26, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. Curt

    Poor little Ricky. He sounds like some whiney little kid. Bet he was bullied in school.

    March 26, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  18. george of the jungle

    ol potty mouth can't handle the stress of the press can you see him in office? Remember its no big deal unless your the VP and make a statement that you think no one will hear, Remember when VP Biden said BFD and the mike was open? Repos where agast. What phoneys. Obama 2012

    March 26, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. JohnnyKay

    To date, I've yet to meet a self styled religious fanatic who wasn't the worst example of hypocrisy, deceit, lies and overall lack of ethics and compassion in all they do and say.

    But Santorum takes the cake.

    With impunity.

    March 26, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. MTGrammy

    He twists Romneys words out of context and uses that as his thump speech platform....so maybe he now doesn't think that is a good idea??

    March 26, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. GK

    At least he isn't a walking teleprompter

    March 26, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. livingston

    Santorum asked why someone would vote for Romney? I ask why would someone vote for Santorum when he lost the last election in his state by the largest margin in state history? He represented us once – we loudly told him "Never again!". Who runs for the Presidency because they couldn't get elected in their own state? If your bored – get a hobby! Leave the important jobs to the grownups.

    March 26, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. Roger

    This buffoon is a disgrace. He and Gingrich are so out of touch that if it wasn't so pathetic it would be funny. None of these GOP's wanabes has any business being POTUS. The Republican party needs to get their act together so they can put up someone worthy in 2016 but for now America, for all our sakes, we must re-elect President Obama.

    March 26, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. Al-NY,NY

    It's the time-out corner for little Ricky

    March 26, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. GI Joe.

    @Curt

    Poor little Ricky. He sounds like some whiney little kid. Bet he was bullied in school
    -----------

    My be is he WAS THE BULLY

    March 26, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
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