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. dave

    The joke is based on the attitude that in the good old days good women did not like sex and they only had sex after marriage as a way to have children - also that sef-control is the woman's job

    February 17, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. Saul

    The Tea/Republicans should apologize to America for being what they are: anti-women, anti-minority, anti-poor, anti-progress. In a word, un-American!

    February 17, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. Martoon

    Much ado about nothing. First, Santorum didn't say it, a donor did. Second, the aspirin joke is a self-effacing commentary about the age of the donor. Back then, abstinence was the only accepted form of birth control and keeping your knees together was a woman's euphemism for it. Effective? No. But representative of a less promiscuous generation.

    February 17, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. HeadAche

    In other news: Rick Santorum distances himself from his billionaire money cow for medieval jokes that nobody gets, except maybe the guy in the dungeon while he turns the wheel on the rack one more turn.
    Rick Santorum distances himself from extremist preacher Rev Dozier, the one who "knows" that god wants to vomit at the thought of homosexuality (but he, Dozier, loves the souls of gays -after they roasted on the stake).

    Have we heard any comment from the GOP / TP/ Family Values crowd? Oh, no my brethren. We don't criticize our own...

    (I do remember the handwringing in that same crowd when they slung mud at Pres. Obama for knowing another extremist preacher. Oh my, that was so bad...)

    February 17, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. MisterPL

    If you really think keeping a women's knees together will prevent her from getting pregnant then you're obviously only coming from one angle.

    February 17, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    We can all make jokes in private about thigns like this, but people whoa re public figures or those who are bankrolling them need to be a little more careful about this. I remember a candidate for Governor in Texas about 20 years ago who said one day, in front of reporters, " Rape is like the weather: if you can't do anything about it, just lie back and enjoy it." I'm sure he thought it was funny, but was it appropriate? No. Neither was this comment by a older man who should be wiser than he has let on. If this is who Santorum has been comfortable taking money from, does that speak positively about hsi judgement? He's supposed to unite this country, not fracture it.

    February 17, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Jack

    Yeah. This was the kind of joke I heard back in the 50s and 60s in bars. Women just need to control themselves (not us manly men, of course). Keep those legs together. No sex before marriage. And, BTW, those were not the good old days. Women got no respect, especially if they tried to become something other than a secretary or nurse. And all those sexist jokes around the office. Let's not even go there.

    February 17, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Carl Loeber

    The man was right .. but maybe he didn't mean it ..

    Cowards in politics .. have to apologize for every truthful remark ..

    was it an incorrect statement ? did women fifty years ago abstain more ? of course they did ..

    February 17, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  9. pntherpaw86

    Santorum must be desperate if he's bringing up Jeremiah Wright again!

    February 17, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Stop with the "gotcha" nonsense. That went the way of the dodo and Sarah Palin (who is a dodo). Just because you cant keep from saying something stupid whenever a camera is around doesnt mean someone "gotcha." Maybe this guy should worry less about women keeping their legs together and more about keeping is own lips together.

    February 17, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Mo

    The remarks from Santorum would have been fine until he decided to use it as a club against Obama and his former minister. These politicians can't help themselves, it is always "yea, but look what the other guy did!" Childish.

    February 17, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. Sanctimonius

    Core Republican Values: Its super to see that the leading candidate for the republican nomination for president is a misogynist.

    February 17, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. BobInIrvine

    Santorum bringing up Jeremiah Wright again shows just how desperate these GOP candidates are, and how low they will sink to beat Obama.

    February 17, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. ML Maize

    Mr. Friess, I am not "confused" by your tasteless words nor did I take your meaning as a "modern-day approach." The very fact that you used these phrases in your non-apology apology just underscores what type of person you are.

    February 17, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. Riptim

    Its cut and dry, the clowns riding in the clown car are toast. Obama will win four more years, what we have to do is get rid of the clowns in the congress who think just like the clowns running for president. Despite the party of NO Obama has turned the economy around in three years.

    February 17, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. MG

    This man is a total idiot. And last night he kept saying that Santorum did not say that he believes that states should be able to make the sale of contraceptives illegal. I have personally heard Santorum say that repeatedly. He might be interested in finding out more about the man he is supporting financially. They are both idiots. They are from the Dark Ages and make me want to puke.

    February 17, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. Connie W

    Okay, I've read through all the comments on here out of curiousity. I'm disgusted by how many people are blaming the beliefs of birth control on a polical party. Really???? I'm a republican and personally I am offended by any man telling a woman what to do with her body. How many unwanted/unplanned children have the anti-abortion folks adopted? If you aren't prepared to be a parent why wouldn't you prevent becoming one in the first place??? This is one of the oldest arguments around and it will never be resolved, but PLEEEEEEASE, don't blame my polical views on my moral beliefs.

    February 17, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. peveka

    I wasn't offeneded by the joke - just attributed that to the fact that he's an old guy. What I was offended by was Santorum's response - distancing himself from his supporter and then trying to blame the media. Doesn't show much integrity or loyalty if you ask me!

    February 17, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. Larry, Curly, or Moe for GOP Nomination

    So an asprin between the knees as a means of feminine birth control! Virginia wanting the forced internal probing (via ultrasound) of women's genitals prior to abortion! Sounds very Taliban to me. Maybe the GOP would like to introduce virginity tests (some religious groups in America practice that). How about legislation to help men share the shame. Let's have the scanning of bare male genitals and maybe the surgical removal of the male scrotum for men who get their ladies pregnant without taking due responsibility? That would be one up on the Taliban.

    February 17, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. David

    ".... Besides, it is a fact, if a woman holds an aspirin or a quarter between her knees, she won't get pregnant."

    This above is the really funny part since it shows how REPUBLICANS think about sex, purely missionary position. It is quite easy to get pregnant with an aspirin between your legs in a whole lot of positions, including the obvious doggy one but that is apparently inconceivable and/or sinful to righteous Rick Santorum and his crowd. Retro indeed...

    February 17, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. tim

    That's how Foster Friess' first wife, Wilma Flintstone used to handle it.

    February 17, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  22. JLN

    For those men out there sitting at the table on the birth control hearing and Mr. Friess. Some women need birth control to alleviate ovarian cysts, fibroid tumors and endometriosis. Most men can't seem to understand this until they see a woman blackout or dry heave when "that time of the month" rolls around. This would probably explain why I can get Viagra for $5 but have to pay $85 for my birth control.

    February 17, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  23. peacetoyou

    Let's face it, the Republican party are still in the Dark Ages!

    February 17, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  24. SuZieCoyote

    The Republicans are doing a masterful job of alienating women voters. So much fun to watch.

    February 17, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  25. MN Mom

    Even as a "joke" it is incredibly insulting to women. This is where the GOP is at now - backward and constantly demeaning women, minorities, and the poor.

    February 17, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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