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. Fred

    Mr. Friess "joke" was in poor taste in the 70's and is in worse taste in 2012. As the father of two great girls I was a Republican but the religious right has hijacked the party so I am now a Dem. I want my daughters to vote, have access to good health care, be able to make decisions about their body's with out a bunch of men deciding for them. I believe in conservative values but not values that create two types of women; "GOOD Girls" they wear nice gingham dresses and white bonnets and "BAD" girls they wear heals micro minis and service the GOP party heads. Good girls barefoot and pregnant while bad girls get sent out of the country by their GOP sugar daddy's to get the abortion because HE doesn't want a child but won't wear a rain coat or let her have access to birth control. Turn the calender back 150 years and the GOP would be happy. Thank the good Lord for the current administration!!!

    February 17, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. Natfka

    It was a joke. My god people. Are we that uptight with something stuck up our rears that a joke that was not even funny makes headlines? Are we that backwards in this society that we ream someone for their poor sense of humor?

    February 17, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Demo Joseph

    P.S. I am catholic and I would like to see the men in my catholic church tell me when or if I can take birth control. I can and have made that decision on my own. LIKE all the catholic women in the pass who lied and did it anyway. I always admitted that I did. I feel a man that took money to live, travel all over the world and tell people who belived in God that he knew better then them how to run their home life is a joke. NO church paid my bills. A hard working man with a job paid our bills and that is just the beginning of what I think of the church telling me that I cannot protect myself from having children if I choose to do so. Get off your high horse. That is the reason you see an OVER FLOW CROWD in Joel Olsteen's church. He is not one of those who tell you "be humble, have 10 babies, the lord will see you thru," God helps those who help themselves. Their is no man in my catholic church helping the poor. They only come out and speak if it feathers their nest. They are all big fat cats who eat, drink and live merry lives on the hard earned money of poor peoples looking for a savior. Get real...... We are not fools anymore. You are the same men who allow men to abuse boys and girls and shift them from place to place to same YOURSELVES. Liars..

    February 17, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. Man DeLorean

    So Santorum is going to try to spin this into a criticism of Obama's churchgoing habits? How "Christian" of him. I understand that evangelicals are disappointed in the GOP field this year, but–beware of Rick Santorum. He's not one of you. Look behind his sound bites–read between his lines. There's more to this man than meets the eye. This is the man who is the father of a child with disabilities and has other family members with pre-existing medical conditions, yet is hell-bent on repealing even that most popular and least controversial aspect of health care reform. If he will throw his family and children under the bus for politics, what will he do to the rest of us? I'm telling you, this guy is Chancellor Palpatine–look close and you'll see his yellow eyes...

    February 17, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  5. Patti in Dallas

    I misquoted Clayon Williams, should be "weather is like rape...", not "politics."

    February 17, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. fbysea

    Everytime they insult someone with another thoughtless ignoramus remark, it's a "joke". This is ole' boys bathroom humor at best and this guy is a little old for it. Liberals have a great sense of humor. We're laughing our heads off during this Republican primary!

    February 17, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. More Human Than Human

    What really upsets _me_ is that this guy is basically telling the women of America to stop putting out. Just because he's too old to safely take Viagra and still get some, doesn't mean he has any right to deny me mine.

    Unless he's suggesting virile young men start exploring homosexuality as a means of release.... Wait a minute... ah-ha! It all makes sense now... the irrational homophobia, horrife fashon sense, drive to get men so frustrated they turn to other men for relief. Santorum's just the gay version of the Manchurian Candidate! The must have gotten to him that time he took a vacation in San Francisco years ago...

    February 17, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  8. Demo Joseph

    That is problem, "it's just a joke" NO it is NOT. IT IS has believe. "when they come for you" will someone be there to speak for you?

    February 17, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. pflatman

    It's not reflective of me or my record on this issue," Santorum said.

    Your record on this issue, you brainless twerp, is for women to procreate and stay at home. And not use any kind of birth control. No wonder the Republican party is so out of touch these days.

    February 17, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  10. carrie

    Saw the interview and I thought it was out of place and in poor taste , heard this joke many yrs ago , not funny then , not funny now ! Of course it is men who do this joke...go figure! his wife was upset with his remark.
    I personally thought it was a very childiish and immature answer to a very serious question, then when Mitchell ask the question again , He said he did not know Santorum had spolken out against contracepion. Good grief , just own up to his rxtreme convictions, you are bank rolling him!
    And the only reason the GOP are going back to pounding social issues , is to get their base on board Since the econmy is on the up turn and Obama is at a higher approval rating , they drudge up soical issies like obortion , gun control and now this stupid birth control thing! No teilling what is next .
    But no one is talking about this stupid Virginia law just passed by the GOP , and the personhood issue is next ...the GOP is not conserving anything just going backwards to the dark ages!

    February 17, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. David

    What's really funny (and sad) is how this story about a bad joke by a citizen that was quickly recanted and distanced from by the vulnerable parties is TRENDING higher than the fact that in the same week, a sitting representative referred to other representatives as "demons."

    Missed it? Just google, "Maxine Waters." It should be near the top.

    February 17, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. JeanneLH

    Oh so now you're saying that Obama IS a Christian...

    February 17, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. NVa Native

    It was not funny.
    It was not a joke.
    It was an insult.
    And most importantly it was the truth!
    That is how the GOP and their followers see women. They don't want the American people to see this, but every once in a while the truth of the GOP comes out.
    And Santanorum, Freiss, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, and the rest of the baggers are who and what they are without thier disguise.

    February 17, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Taran

    When I was in my late teens, I remember my mom having the talk with my sisters. She said when our grandmother talked to her about birth control, grandma hander her a quarter. Our mom said, "How is a quarter supposed to help with birth control?" Grandma said, " Hold it between your knees and you cannot get pregnant." We laughed our behinds off. It was not the big deal liberals are making this old guys joke out to be. Besides, it is a fact, if a woman holds an aspirin or a quarter between her knees, she won't get pregnant.

    February 17, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. svann

    It was a joke, and not a new one either. On the real issue though, imo contraception is not something that should be insured. Insurance is supposed to cover unexpected expenses, not commodities. Should insurance cover the excedrin I use too? Bandaids? Soap? No. You might think you get it free if insurance covers it, but you are paying more in the premiums. You dont save money you lose money. Even if your employer pays for insurance it still comes out of the budget which reduces your chance for raises. You lose. The insurance company wins.

    February 17, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. Taran

    make that "handed" her a quarter. I hate it when I fat-finger keys.

    February 17, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. Barbara Norman

    Well. . .the cavemen have re-appeared. Let's all stand back and let them have their say. Nothing more will be needed
    because men AND women have hearts and they can also reason. These 17th and 18th and 19th century guys are less and less relevant. Thank heaven for that! A "sense of humor" is irrelevant here–this is serious stuff and our daughters and granddaughters will thank us for standing up to this attack on basic human rights.

    There's nothing funny about it.

    February 17, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. Lisa P

    The "joke" would have been a lot more funny if it didn't line up so nicely with the conservative political and patriarchal religious agenda of placing all the responsibility for pregnancy or prevention of pregnancy on the woman and then trying to limit her options. Funny that Mr. Freiss had no "jokes" about young men refraining from having sex - that's another 100% effective method.

    As for Rev. Wright, the Republican propagandists combed through 20 years of his sermons to find one short phrase that they have played over and over again in an attempt to fool people into thinking that those few words somehow represent the whole of Rev. Wright's thoughts and deeds and also of his entire congregation's thoughts and deeds. Absolute nonsense. It is like suggesting that opposition to contraception is the only thing that defines the Catholic Church, and that therefore all Catholics oppose birth control... conveniently forgetting that the majority of Catholics have used contraceptives at one time or another.

    Mr. Fleiss said on national TV the very same thing that the Catholic bishops and religious right have been harping on for decades and that Republican politicians have been running on and trying to turn into law in Congress and statehouses across the country for at least the last ten years. The difference is that those laws are not "jokes" and Mr. Fleiss has been way more open about his agenda than the politicians like Santorum who are now trying to back away from him, at least as far as the general public (vs. Republican primary voters) are concerned.

    February 17, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. DK

    What people should really take notice of is when Santorum called contraception 'murder'.

    February 17, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. brooklynguy27

    He said very simply and clearly he's not responsible for someone's comments, just like President Obama was defended that he isn't responsible for Rev. Wright 's controversial comments. The gotcha politics he is referring to is taking something and making it into something it is not..."Gotcha!" This 'joke' made wasn't a sexist reference to the modern day woman, like here's what you should do and here's what I think about it. It was reference to what was done before birth control ..ask any man or woman of that era, that's what they did back then ...it was common and not many of us would be old enough to recall it. As much as Santorum advocates for abstinence, that it is the safest and most preventive measure against unwanted and teen pregnancies, he still has continued to vote for funding of contraceptives -unlike a lot of his Republican rivals. Despite his strong personal beliefs, he is still realistic and respectful of others' choices and ethics. That's why he keeps saying refer to his record, and look how he votes. Enough already, can we really just examine in the coming election what the candidates really stand for?

    February 17, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. max


    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 |
    Good to know men has no blame in your world. It takes two. What's even more repulsive is that our tax dollars go to cover Viagra for these old f@rt$....you are no doubt one of them!!!

    February 17, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. once upon a horse

    I wonder if the people defending this as "just a joke" would have found it funny had Obama said it. I kinda think that they WOULDN'T and not only that people like Santorum and Romney would have attacked him for it. And as for the term "gotcha politics" that only happens when you are asked a question and give an answer that you REALLY didn't want the public to hear. But Santorum says so many stupid things that gotcha questions would not be effective with him.

    February 17, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. svann

    Jokes are always less funny when the other side tells them.

    February 17, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  24. Larry in Houston

    @Demo Joseph !! WoW !! You are Spot ON my Friend !! (In your first post) that's why I don't give 20 bucks a week anymore to the Church – a dollar a week is just enough to pay for the wafer & the sip of wine – because you never know when your hearing a sermon from a pedophile or not – You know, if it comes up in one of the 'other' Catholic Churches somewhere in this country – they Just pretty much sweep it under the rug, like thay always do. I mean, it's on the news for a week or so, but it's not heard about after that.

    February 17, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  25. ian

    heheh, i guess miss frees' mama didnt practice his recommended method of birth control....too bad!

    February 17, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
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