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. James PDX

    I've been saying for decades that the only way things will get better is if they first get so bad that we all rise up off our apathetic and obese behinds and revolt. Sadly, it's been difficult getting a candidate so terrible, so stupid, that they could really screw things up that badly. Yet, amazingly, in 2012 we potentially have 2 or 3 of them all running at the same time. Without a doubt Santorum and Gingrich are the best candidates if we want to see some real change – through a revolution!

    March 26, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. GI Joe.

    Distortions or innuendos might have been a more mature way to expess his views. The cursing is uncalled for.

    March 26, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  3. Igoforpogo

    He can dish it out but he can't take it. He nauseates me to listen to him. He is throwing up a massive facade and in the end he will jam his way down our throates. His way or no way – he is a disgrace to the political process (which is a disgrace in its current format). Trust him to defend my rights and the defense of our country – I think not.

    March 26, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  4. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Typical republican answer: when someone quotes your words verbatim, you deny you ever said that and accuse the questioner of distorting the words...
    Dude, it was word-for-word what you said! Stop being such a coward!

    March 26, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  5. Hyperion

    OH my!! My dyed in the red religious conservative is now cursing???

    March 26, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. Mary D.

    If Santorum can not stand the heat he should get of the race. Just think of what he would say or do if the Democrats went him the way the Republicans are going after President Obama. That is just why he should never become President of these United States.
    I refuse to use his name again in any sentence.

    March 26, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. Alaskatrailrunner

    Rick apparently graduated from the Sarah Palin school of campaigning: Say whatever comes to mind, then blame the media for reporting it, ESPECIALLY if it's the NY Times.

    March 26, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. A not-so-stupid former republican

    I didn't think the holier-than-thou Santorum approved of using profane language. I guess he is not quite as religious as he says he is. This jerk is a hypocrite through and through.

    March 26, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  9. GI Joe.

    Jesus Christ was an even-tempered, fair, liberal.

    March 26, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. Thomas

    @Igoforpogo
    He can dish it out but he can't take it.

    He also acts very thin skinned , not the kinda guy you want with a finger on the big Button !
    Would somebody interview Ricks sons , he just walks them around like photo props and his daughters do the super smiling .

    March 26, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. ST

    Though there are folks who are tired with GOP long primaries, but I have to admit that it has exposed what we did not know before about the candidates. Santorum is a temperament person; Romney has no cajones the money works for him instead; Gingrich is a man who pretends not to face the reality; Ron Paul is hanging on with his hidden agenda which is anyone's guess.

    March 26, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Shann wrote:

    Santorum is so full of it. He said Romney supported the national health care model. Romney never supported that. ....
    --------------
    Yes, he did. He advocated for the MA health care law be used as a model for a national heath care law in 2008. In 2009, he wrote an op-ed piece for 'USA Today' cynically recommending to the Obama administration that they follow the MA model as a framework for a national policy. Much to Mitt Romney's chagrin, that is exactly what the Obama administration did. In fact, when asked to do so, Mitt Romney actually provided the names and contact info for the people who helped developed the MA law.

    I don't know why Santorum wants to back away from the observation that Mitt Romney is the worst Republican to run against Barack Obama on health care reform. I guess the Republican establishment doesn't want to advertise that fact too loudly.

    March 26, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. judith

    Poor Santorum. Clueless, noting to run on except religious zeal and extremism and he can't even answer a reporter's question. A lousy candidate, among the rest of the lousy losers on the GOP side.

    March 26, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. Jesus Christ

    Wow, another guy who claims to be a follower of mine, but who completely ignores my message. I'm getting sick of these guys. I guess Rick missed the part where I said... ""You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

    "You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
    But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

    March 26, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. Jay

    God will punish him for saying naughty words! How is it that according to Politicians, the reporters are ALWAYS out to get the politiciians (regardless of whether they are Dems or Repubs) with GOTCHA questions! Yet just last week Old Slicky Ricky and Know it All Newt latched onto the Etch A Sketch thing like a dog with a bone because they had GOTCHA'd old Plastic Romney? This is why politicians make me want to gag!

    March 26, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. Peter E

    I can already see Romney having a ball with this: Santorum keeps accusing him of flip-flopping, and yet the former senator can't even stand by his own words he uttered just beforehand.

    March 26, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. Dave

    It's amazing how quickly politicians forget their own words when it becomes convenient to do so.

    March 26, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. GI Joe.

    Gingrich did one good thing the other day - when he attacked President Obama's statement, he ralled the black votes for President Obama.

    March 26, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  19. Bob

    I've never liked Santorum and I would never support him for President (or for any office for that matter.)

    But after reading all of the brainless, childish, weak, etc. comments that his detractors have written on this message board, I may have to give him a second look out of spite.

    FYI, if you want to win people over to your way of thinking, don't sound like such an idiot.

    March 26, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. Sue

    Frankly, I'm just sick and tired of all four of the GOP candidates! They are cantankerous, mud-slinging, egotistical fools who are so replete with desire to be president that they can't even be civil anymore, nor can they deal with the real issues at hand. They are truly a sorry lot!

    March 26, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. Fair is Fair

    GI Joe.

    Gingrich did one good thing the other day – when he attacked President Obama's statement, he ralled the black votes for President Obama.
    --------
    If Obama needs the 2% – 3% of the black voters that he does not already have, he's in more trouble than I imagined.

    March 26, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. Jo

    Is the Show Over yet?? Pretty sick of Santy ranting and raving... watch his daughter on the video of him yelling, pointing finger at media etc... she looks as embarrassed as I am of this Loose Cannon....feel sorry for her watching her dad be such a cry baby and Blow Up Guy.

    March 26, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. maryd1950

    I still want Santorum to be the candidate, he will be the most fun to watch twist. Maybe he can get his friends the Schivaio's to help – remeber his part in that fiasco.

    March 26, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. roscoe

    Desperate and flailing.

    March 26, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. ThinkAgain

    I'm sure the Racine, Wisconsin comment by Sanitorium ("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?") is on tape – and yet Ricky denies it!

    Ricky is also counting on his supporters to be lazy and incurious about finding out what the truth is on the matter, preferring to hold onto their prejudices and letting Sanitorium convince them to vote for someone who actively lies to them.

    Who would ANYONE want to vote for someone like Ricky?

    March 26, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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