February 17th, 2012
09:52 AM ET
11 years ago

Friess apologizes for birth control comment

(CNN) – Rick Santorum backer Foster Friess apologized Friday for a now-viral comment he made Thursday about contraception.

"After listening to the segment ... I can understand how I confused people with the way I worded the joke and their taking offense is very understandable," Friess wrote in a blog post. "To all those who took my joke as modern day approach I deeply apologize and seek your forgiveness."

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His apology came after Republican presidential candidate Santorum distanced himself from the statement and women's advocacy groups criticized the billionaire mutual fund manager.

Friess joked Thursday that women used Bayer aspirin as birth control "back in (his) days."

"The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn't that costly," he said on MSNBC.

Later Thursday Friess, who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to a pro-Santroum super PAC, said it was a joke and suggesting aspirin as a form of contraception "is pretty ridiculous and quite funny."

Santorum said Friday he is not responsible for comments from a donor and accused the media of "gotcha politics."

"It was a bad joke, it was a stupid joke. It's not reflective of me or my record on this issue," Santorum said on CBS "This Morning." "This is the same gotcha politics that you get from the media and I'm just not going to play that game."

The former Pennsylvania senator's comments followed statements from Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards called birth control "basic health care," adding it is "not something to belittle on national TV."

And while Santorum called it "bad joke," he also said questioning over the issue represents a double standard from the media.

"With President Obama what you did was you went out and defended him against someone who he sat in a church for for 20 years and defended him that oh, he can't possibly believe what he listened to for 20 years," Santorum said referencing the controversial comments from Obama's former Rev. Jeremiah Wright. "It's a double standard, it's what you're pulling off and I'm going to call you on it."

Filed under: 2012 • Health care • Rick Santorum
soundoff (595 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Confused? No. Just curious how someone could stick their foot in their mouth one day and have enough room to stick his other one in the next. Prove money can't buy brains.

    February 17, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  2. Big T

    One more billionaire trying to buy a president and too stupid to think that he might be blowing his money on the wrong guy.

    February 17, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  3. ingrid

    I am constantly astounded to hear the archaic and misogynistic stances that Santorum or one of his backers makes. I have often wondered if perhaps his and his backers comments are taken out of context because it is hard to believe that in this day and age someone running for the highest post in the land could really be this backward. Unfortunately, as I have heard him defend some of his comments, I think that his views are just what I think they are -he is a throw back to another era. I think Santorum's views are more in line with the Taliban's than most mainstream educated normal Americans.

    February 17, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. Expat American

    Conservative sing-a-long:
    “…Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1899…”

    February 17, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. Data Driven

    Unbelievably, the rich caveman who has the same name as a popular dessert comes off better than Santorum in this article. At least Foster Freeze gave a sincere-sounding apology. Santorum, on the other hand, blames the media.

    Mitchell's question was an entirely appropriate one in which Foster Freeze was invited to add context or nuance to Santorum's publicly stated opinions about the current contraception debate, a debate Santorum more or less started. It was hardly a "gotcha" moment. Rather than deal with legitimate questions from media outlets who aren't totally on his side like FNC, Santorum chooses instead to re-litigate the Jeremiah Wright debate, which was covered to the point of ad nauseam levels last election cycle. The media "defended" Obama? Please. As a result of the Wright hysteria, Obama was obliged to give a rudimentary race-relations lesson to cure White America from the Angry Black Man vapors.

    If Santorum wants to play with the Big Boys and Big "Gals" (as Foster Freeze would call them), then he's going to have to accept the fact that most Americans outside the FNC bubble do not agree with many of his opinions on social issues. Until then, he looks like a PUNK.

    February 17, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. jeff of Peoria

    Give me a break – Hasn't anyone heard that joke before. It's about 40 years old. You're just looking for a reason to gripe about someone.

    February 17, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. Maggie

    Vatoloke, I'm not worried that he will. Sarah and her brood are the poster family for birth control. She should have availed herself of it.

    February 17, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    "This is the same gotcha politics that you get from the media and I'm just not going to play that game."
    Santorum's hypocrisy is ripe on the vine. He says that he is not responsible for what his supporterrs and subordinates say on his behalf, supporters that he has recruited and appear on stage with him during campaign events.. Wrong, Senator.

    Santorum then says that Pres. Obama was not held responsible for the comments made by Jeremiah Wright. Comments that were not made during the campaign, as a representative supporter of a political candidate, but made a decade prior at an event where Barack Obama was even not in attendance. Yet, Obama was held accountable, and he took responsibility and made a game changing response to his critics. That's called leadership.

    February 17, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  9. bonnie lee

    why are Republican men so uptight about womens reproductive systems / they should be glad they use birth control so these guy don't get into trouble when they cheat !!!!!!!!!

    February 17, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  10. Not Tonight Dear!

    I have a headache...can you get me some Bayer aspirin! walla...Birth Control!

    February 17, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. Sorensen

    "Wording of the joke?" What a desparate and stupid explanation. He truly belongs among the outdated and irrelevant
    republican, ridiculous fools. The GOP has not reached the bottom yet, but they are surely working hard on it.
    Santorum has not got a clue.

    February 17, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  12. HT

    WIth 98% of Catholics saying they use birth control, and so many other more pressing issues facing the survival of our country, is this taking center stage?

    February 17, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    Too late for an apology, damage is already done. Regular viewers of Fox News may actually buy into your ludicrous statement as medical fact.

    February 17, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. Katie

    Only an idiot would make a joke like that. Maybe we should joke about ED being God's way of imposing both birth control and self control on men?

    February 17, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  15. Jarrod

    He didn't apologize for the comment.

    He apologized for us not getting the comment.

    February 17, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  16. Mark from Louisiana

    Looks like the republican candidates are so tired of CNN's gotcha journalism that they won't attend the next CNN debate....probably the only time cnn gets more than a couple of hundred people watching ha ha

    February 17, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  17. marcia

    I think the joke is funny! I remember people saying that in the 60's...and I somewhat agree that it would be a lot cheaper! People also need some restraint. This country can't say no to anything.

    February 17, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  18. Ferret out the BS

    This just really brings out the mentality of the conservofscists in the GOP/TP. They don't want to progress into the future with new things, concepts, and philosophy, they want to return to the "good ole days" when women were kept and possessions of men. It slips out and they veheomently try to deny what they said was in any way shape or form what they really believe. But that is simply not true, it's commonly called a "Fruedian slip" and it reflects the true beliefs of the speaker.

    February 17, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. MiketheElectrician

    Jag and DandyStryker, couldn't say it any better. IThe bad joke are these guys who seem to think we are in a time machine and landing in 1950s Alabama. Interesting how these guys hate government in the lives of the richest, but they sure don't mind interjecting it in social issues. You don't want to use contraception, then don't, but I thought you GOPers were market economy guys, well there is a huge market for contraception. Stay out of a woman's right to make her own decisions.

    February 17, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. Florida Joe

    This is exactly how the Republicans feel about women..........

    February 17, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. Anonymous

    "It's a double standard, it's what you're pulling off and I'm going to call you on it." – Like covering Viagra for men, but not Birth Control for women? Yep sounds about right.

    February 17, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  22. GOP=Make Believe

    Let's see, it's the right who stirred up the whole stupid issue and now it's the right making jokes about it. Hmm, one can't help but question where the right's motives and priorities lie.

    February 17, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. Doug C.

    Rick pulls out the "its the media's fault' again. If he was honest or remembers at at, the Rev Wright issue nearly derailed B. Obama's campaign. Rev Wright was interview by the media in prime time. Obama left his church and gave a nuanced speech on race relations that move the issue beyond some rants by Wright. It easier to blame the media than defend one's own positions.

    February 17, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  24. Joi Gibson

    What does President Obama and Reverend Wright have to do with this issue? Gotcha politics – how about deflection politics. What Foster Freiss said was disgusting. When he was called on it – wait, wait, wait – it was a joke. Rick Santorum has some pretty archaic comments about birth control himself. This whole issue is very tiresome, very disrespectful to woman, and very insulting to women. I think I can safely say most of us have had just about enough of it. Keep it up and you will find just how annoyed and insulted we are.


    February 17, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  25. Jack from Illinois

    It is as predictable as gravity that when a Con gets caught being a fool, he'll take a limited number of ways to try to get out of it. "You misunderstood" or "Let's talk about something else" or "But what about when so-and-so did something similar?"

    Maybe the weakest deflection tactic is "It was all a joke." At least this time, the Con in question had the wisdom to refrain from the usual follow-up, "And it's YOUR fault for not understanding it was a joke.", although Frieze skates close to the edge.

    February 17, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
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