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

    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 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. Demo Joseph

    It was not a joke. These are the good old boys who got their way all their lives and they see it slipping away. Women are the same as any minority to them disposible. He is a b......d an old ba......d

    February 17, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  3. spred

    Any woman who even considers voting for Santorum should consider where this fool thinks the woman's place is. And it's not anywhere other than the kitchen......

    February 17, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. Hark

    @Phil- Thankyou!!!

    February 17, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  5. Realityblowz

    Democrats obviously have no sense of humor whatsoever. The party of hum drum that wants everyone else to pay for everything that they use. They are so cheap that they won't even pay for their own birth control pills, or won't pay to play.

    February 17, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. derp

    Instead of "Santorum 2012" they should change it to "Santorum 500AD"

    Sorry Rick, this isn't the dark ages, and no crazy religious catholic fundamentalist zealot gets to be king.

    February 17, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  7. newz4i

    Santorum, the media DID report AND made an issue of Pres. Obama sitting in a church listening to Reverend Wright for 20 years. Your connection of an aspirin between a woman's legs with where someone sat for 20 years is a far stretch to the point of being dishonest on your part.

    February 17, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  8. Big Jilm

    BC isn't just for birth control, believe it or not. My fiance had to take it to regulate her hormones -don't see how an aspirin would help much there.

    And the whole Rev. Wright thing? Can they choose a demonization tactic and stick with it? Is he a life-long Muslim or did he sit in a Lutheran Church for over 20 years with a crazy pastor? And find me one person who hasn't heard a crazy pastor? Every church I ever tried had a pastor that said crazy things -most of them talked about an invisible man!

    February 17, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  9. nightsun2k7

    Typical right wing tool. Not just because of what he said (joke or not) but that he was stupid enough to say it in public and show his true colors. The republicans are so stupid and arrogant, they assume nobody is watching or listening so who cares what they say. You Americans need to make sure none of these people get into office anymore. I know the dems aren't always much better but at least for the most part they're not quite so stupid. They usually get that they're being watched and usually (not always) but usually act accordingly, where the repubs just simply don't give a flying "F" what you think. Stick with Obama, at least he seems to be trying which is a far cry from what any repub seems to be doing.

    February 17, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  10. papanez

    As is usually the case, the non-apology is the joke. This dude doesn't even understand why people have taken offensive based on the shallowness of his apology. If you want an example of an honest, heartfelt apology, read the one offered by Lisa Chan, the actress who appeared in the insulting racial political name put up by Pete Hoekstra the republican running for Senate in Michigan.
    You can bet this dink Friess will work extra hard to deliver his 'joke' in a more acceptable manner from now on. Still oblivious to the feelings and concerns of others. And Phil, your comment is just as unacceptable as Friess'.

    February 17, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  11. v_mag

    Mr. Sanctimonious said something amazing about the bailout yesterday. He blames...BUSH! I heard it on NPR this morning.

    Tell us, Rick, now that you brought the subject up. How are you any different from Bush? Why haven't you called for Bush to be tried for war crimes? Why do you spend your time bashing our president rather than the guy who is responsible for 2 unnecessary wars, a shredded Constitution, and a crashed economy?

    February 17, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. Jules

    This is insane. I realize that Rick Santorum considers himself the Richie Cunningham of the GOP candidates, but his stand and his campaign's stand takes a whole lot further back than that.

    February 17, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The man is 71 yers old for chrissakes! Different times, different jokes.
    Keep it moving....

    February 17, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  14. Todd in DC

    The issue here really is that a millionaire backer in a very public forum makes light of a very contraversial issue. And yes, it is weird that Santorum spoke up here, but not when an audience member claimed Obama was a Muslim from Africa.

    February 17, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  15. setnommarih

    I got the joke, if you have an aspirin (buffered hopefully) between your legs, you can't open them without dropping the aspirin. So "don't drop the aspirin' should be the punch line maybe? Help me here folks, I think the audience is not responding....

    February 17, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  16. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    So is this how the liberal MSM gets the Chimichanga comment made by Obama's supporter out of the spot light???

    February 17, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  17. MarkinFL

    Clearly Santorum is so out to lunch that he completely missed the media storm about Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Or is he just doing the classic GOP tactic of repeating a lie until enough people believe it? He clearly expects everyone to recognize what he is talking about so he knows well that it played heavily in national news.
    Besides, his oft stated views are exactly the same. He believes a woman should not be allowed to use birth control that allows her to have sxe when she wants to without getting pregnant.

    February 17, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  18. TJ

    You can't say anything these days without offending some group. It's pathetic!

    February 17, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  19. EngageGrayMatter

    Wow....so an old codger made an off color joke and NOW (pun intended) everyone has their panties in a bunch. Here's the thing. If women DID put an aspirin between their knees so as not to let it fall, we would see a significant decline in the birth rate of unwed mothers (who by the way, wouldn't be mothers then) and most from those who live in poverty or are under-educated. Hell using an aspirin might actually help them get out of poverty ya think? ....Single mothers as a demograophic are among individuals with the highest rates in poverty and those without a high school diploma. And even more so among the black and latino communities. Sorry if that offends, but it is the truth. Tell me I lie...

    February 17, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  20. Bill C

    FS. You are absolutely right. A joke about putting an asprin between your knees is on par with the genocide of unborn babies. This shows, yet again, that liberals have no sense of humor.

    February 17, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  21. cf

    He admits it was a stupid thing to say, but then plays the "gotcha media" card. Pick one.

    February 17, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. EveryOne Stop Whining ! ! !

    EveryOne Stop Whining ! ! ! The aspirin joke was an comment from the original Dear Abby column if not before that. The late great Ann Landers and or Dear Abby used that line or joke to remind all people that if a woman could keep her legs closed the less chance of getting pregnant. But that was also to remind men and boys they shouldn't be trying to take advantage of women. Is birth control a right or a privelege? Should the government be involved in birth control except in case of a rape or an emergency? Making condoms and birth control available so easily only encourages the behavior.
    Another old thought, "If you aren't old enough or have the courage to walk in and buy your own birth control or have a way to support a child on your own then maybe you shouldn't be having intercourse." It was a start.
    If a non-government organization wants to receive and fund this that would be one thing. There should be enough wealthy entertainers, sports or business and political people squacking about this subject that instead of donating to such things as Media Matters or MoveOn then real people could fund this cause if they truly cared and can help.
    Was it a lame attempt at humor, yes, but let's get past that, I am sure none of you has a friend who says something inappropriate at the wrong time.
    But everyone please stop the whining and name calling and calmly talk about the solution.

    February 17, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. Courser

    I remember when abortion was illegal and I remember when The Pill became widely available. Granted, I was a kid, but I remember well. The aspirin 'joke' was something my grandmother might have said. I'm appalled that an old white dude would invoke it in the 21st century. Seriously?

    Make no mistake, the GOP wants women to be firmly under their thumb. What about the millions of people who aren't Catholic. The vast masses who are faithful to their religion and use birth control to keep their family to a size they can afford to support. What about the millions of women who use birth control pills to help control serious health issues like migraines (It's not just a headache, folks), ovarian cysts or uterine fibroids?

    I can't wait for someone in the GOP say that their members who have self-destructed by having affairs wouldn't have strayed if women would just keep their legs shut. Because, as everyone knows, women have been evil temptresses since Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden. Please.

    God help us all if one of these goons gets into the White House.

    Obama-Biden in 2012

    February 17, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  24. Rick Perry

    wow, I found that funny. it means, contraception is keeping your legs shut and practicing abstinence.. how can anyone see it as offensive?????!

    February 17, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  25. Patti in Dallas

    Paternalistic/Chauvinistic condescending misogyny from an outspoken old rich white guy funding another rich white guy allegedly "seriously" running for President of the United States is not "funny"....it's pathetic and ugly.

    Reminds me of Clayton Williams' famously pathetic & ugly act of political suicide when he ran against Ann Richards for Texas Governor...his flippant "politics is like rape, relax & enjoy it" misogyny. If he thought he stood a chance against Ann before that, his chauvinistic mockery of a serious women's issue simply & irrevocably sealed his trampling in the voting booth.

    Keep it up, Ricky. I hope we hear more from the "true" Santorum and his sugar daddy Friess on issues women take very seriously.

    February 17, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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