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. AEK

    I misspoke
    I was misquoted
    My comment was not intended to be factual
    My comment was taken out of context
    It was a joke
    My comment was twisted by the lame stream media

    Boy, is this starting to sound familiar...does anyone in that party take responsibility for what comes out of their mouths?

    February 17, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  2. Lolo

    @ DandyStryker I agree with you. They know exactly what they are saying and doing.

    February 17, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  3. steven harnack

    Ahh, the Republikan "it was a joke" defense. The problem with Republikans and humor is that a sense of humor requires some intelligence that they just seem to lack. If you have to explain that it is a joke it's probably not funny.

    February 17, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  4. John D

    Ricky would make a horrible President but a great Pope! He fits that profile, bossing women around, tellling them what they can and cannot do. He's running for the wrong thing. Ricky for Pope!

    February 17, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. Tom

    I don't understand the joke?

    February 17, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Santorum had a good run, now he should go home.

    February 17, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. Brian

    Santorum is playing the Palin card here. First of all, it was the media ( albeit Faux News) that sprang the Wright story. In that story, a pastor was condemned for his remarks on a subject that had nothing to do with Obama or policy. At best, Wright might have contributed $2500 to an Obama candidacy. In the current instance, a clear supporter of Santorum responded to a specific question about a plank in the Santorum platform. Furthermore, this individual is known to have spent huge sums on advertising messages for the Santorum campaign.

    Personally, I think this is much ado about nothing. Heck, I heard Catholic nuns use that same joke back in the 1970s. Had he merely said that he felt the best for of contraception is abstinence, we would not be having any discussions. And that was the clear intent of the comment. For a generation that wathed Lucy and Ricky sleep in different TV beds, that joke is probably still humorous.

    The problemis that Santorum, like Bachmann and Palin before him, take the opportunity to attack the media. The media is just reporting things stated by huge financial backers of his. These are people who put out messages that are not 'technically' endorsed by the candidates. But do we really believe that? Obama immediately severred himself from Jeremiah Wright. Let's see if Santorum immediately tells the SuperPAC to cease al advertisements.

    February 17, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Jim

    Finally, a conservative with a real sense of humor and we make him apologize for it.

    Boy I miss freedom of speech...

    February 17, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  9. Dr Knowitall

    We all know liberals lack a sense of humor, but it was a joke, and it was funyy to boot !

    February 17, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. asdf

    The media is focusing on the wrong issue here: we need to put a stop to unfunny jokes!

    February 17, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. The Greedy Old Pigs declared class war on US!

    Rather than get caught up in the phony smoke and mirrors hype over a non-existent "war on religion" CNN and the public might do better to learn more about the sleazy Mr. Freiss, who just happens to pal around with anti-American psychopaths like the Koch brothers.

    February 17, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  12. Olaf Big

    Lighten up. This was a joke, if not a very funny one. Watching politicians flare up in righteous indignation over chimichangas or contraceptives jokes reminds me of maoist China or Stalin's Soviet Union. This is certainly not a level discussion one expects from a mature democracy.

    February 17, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. tc

    Big deal it's an old joke even my grandmother always said "take a dime and put it between your knees. If he gets fresh you can use the dime to make a call" The joke was age appropriat for the man.

    February 17, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. brian in denver

    Mr. Foster is an idiot & his "joke" was offensive. No way to sugar-coat or dismiss it.

    February 17, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. Larry in Houston

    @Joel – LOL – This is what or where we will Be – IF this country elects another republican, believe me. After 8 yrs of Bush, You'd think everybody has learned. "the Sanitarium" won't ever make it anyway. He's so much of a right winger, it's pathetic. He's an embarrasement to us Real catholics.

    February 17, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. InkedAlice

    I think the reason most people *aren't* laughing is because – at the same time Friess is joking – Santorum is railing about how birth control is bad for our country and for women; and he damned sure isn't joking. If the GOP weren't launching an all out attack on women, I think many more people would've blown this old dude off.

    February 17, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. roro

    This was a truly stupid, offensive, and insulting gaffe. Two very modern women, Andrea Mitchell and Sen.Barbara Boxer, who have probably seen and heard it all, were so taken aback they were speechless. My personal reaction was a jaw drop. The scary thing about this is that many of Santorum's backers and followers believe in this medieval claptrap.

    February 17, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. A not-so-stupid former republican

    Isn't it amusing watching the republicans trying their best to lose the nomination by alienating voters they need? As someone else posted: Stupid is as stupid does!

    February 17, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  19. Kirk

    I don't think it was a big deal and I found it funny. Too many cry babies in the world. Frankly, he is right. People should keep their "knees together" a little more and we wouldn't have to worry so much about abortion rights.

    February 17, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  20. hardy

    I beliceve that Rick Santorum and Friess have know ideal was year it is.They are trying to go back to the fifties about contraception.I also believe it going to hurt his chances to win.

    February 17, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  21. Not All Docs Play Golf

    Rick....yes, you ARE defined by the company you keep. You are a hypocrite to try to say you are distancing yourself from this slimeball while at the same time taking his money to forward your neanderthal platform.

    February 17, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  22. v_mag

    Sanctimonius did something amazing yesterday. He brought up the bailout and blamed...BUSH! He said he blamed Bush more than Obama for that! And he was right, for a change.

    So, tell us, Rick, now that you've brought it up: How are you any different from Bush? Why would anybody vote for you if you're another Bush? Only hardcore Greedy One Percenters, christers and racists, I guess. Nobody but folks who want to go back to the Bad Old Days of Bush, and that must truly be not a lot more than 1% of the population.

    February 17, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  23. Gandalf the White

    I have heard that aspirin "joke" before about women's birth control, and I was as deeply offended to hear it again as I was the first time. It is insulting and demeaning to women, it makes them sound stupid and cheap, and it ignores the man's role in the process.

    February 17, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  24. GI Joe.

    Freiss and Santorum are both 1800s JERKS

    February 17, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  25. V in Chicago

    vatoloke – I Agree! And, like SP, he thinks all he has to do is throw that term out there and the questions will go away. Not so easy Mr. Santorum. I want you to publicly denounce what this guy said, just like President Obama did with Rev. Wright. If you don't have the conviction to say that this was offensive to women, then you have no business representing women on any level.

    Thank God for President Obama! What the right is offering up is scary!!

    February 17, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
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