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. tim

    Take the focus OFF THE CANDIDATES was the instruction from the Chairman of the National Republican Party. Get people thinking about birth control or anything but real issues.

    February 17, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. Kimo

    The very sad joke is that the Catholic church maintains their irresponsible ban on contraception in this age of overpopulation, aids and other STIs. If their were anything clear cut in the bible against contraception then the fundamentalists would be all over it but not even they find anything wrong with it. The ban is something unique to the Catholic church and it is time they reexamined their stand. It is absurd to make a stand against abortion but then not allow the very means of preventing them. Of course, little boys can't get pregnant so the priest have nothing to worry about.

    February 17, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. Legalize Industrial Hemp

    It is inconceivable that Santorum is against any form of birth control. What is a married woman to do? Keep her knees together? I thought the Bible wanted women to submit to their husband's sexual urges? Are they supposed to have 20 children, or just stick to oral gratification? Isn't oral sex a sin too? Just curious.

    February 17, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. Jean Sartre, Milwaukee, WI

    Please Mr. Sanatorium, go back to your cave and take your billionaire Super-PAC double with you...

    February 17, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. Bob

    The sad reality is this is how these guys really view women's health and women's rights. You can bet if someone wanted to take their viagra away these old white guys would be the first people in line at the protest. When my parents were young there were all sorts of bad jokes about African Americans, Jews, and any other person who wasn't a white male. I guess this means anyone can go on national television and spew all sorts of ignorance as long as they say it is all just a joke from their youth when someone calls them on it.

    February 17, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  6. Donnie

    I cannot believe you people and how prudish and uptight you all are and have to be P.C. on everything. The joke was simple put an asprin between your legs means simply keeping your legs closed. You all, including the media and these fringe groups make a major issue out of it. It was a joke plain and simple and those that took offense seriously get a life.

    February 17, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. JL

    "It was a bad joke, it was a stupid joke. It's not reflective of me or my record on this issue,"
    I'm going to have to disagree with Santorum here. It's a pretty good joke. Funny both because of the visual it creates and that it is true. Keeping your legs together is the safest and only 100% sure way to avoid pregnancy. If I were running for Pres, I would have stood by the comment. Might even make it my campaign slogan 🙂

    February 17, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. Anthony... proud tax payer

    Dear women,
    Your votes are welcomed and appreciated.
    Sincerely, the Democratic Party.

    So far the Republicans have alienated Minorities, any other Religion besides the Christian-Catholic, Women, Seniors, Teachers and and anyone in a Union.

    You'd have to be living in a fantasy land if you think whats left is going to carry you through the general election.

    February 17, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. Truthman

    Making birth control a religious liberty issue stinks. If the clergy (and those they represent) based their "ethics" on Scripture rather than on their own traditions and anthropomorphic disregard for Scripture, it would be one thing. But please don't drag truth into the mud by invoking the Almighty. And we Christians wonder why Christianity (as a religion) is becoming increasingly viewed as irrelevant and out of touch. Its about time that Christians reject the commercialized expression of religion in favor of the authentic and relevant truth of God's Word as revealed in Holy Scripture.

    February 17, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  10. Wilder

    Republicans have the finest minds...of the thirteenth century.

    February 17, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. upstateny

    OMG people. READ the article. It was a joke based upon HIS younger days. When I was younger, people thought you could get pregnant in a swimming pool without having sex, thinking that sperm could somehow survie the chlorine, seep in to your bathing suit and make his all the way up to fertilize the egg. We are older, more educated about the stupid "myths". Lighten up people...you are the problem with the world. Overeacting, drawing your own conclusions and feeling offended. If you don't like what he said..don't listen. If you don't think the intended joke was funny...don't laugh, move on and grow up.

    February 17, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  12. rs

    You know the problem with you all saying this is "just a joke" is this:
    It isn't much of a joke today if you need a "wayback" machine to get it;
    It isn't a joke when the candidate supported by the joker wants to outlaw contraceptives;
    It isn't a joke to say abstinence is the only way;
    It isn't a joke if you remember that WITHOUT contraceptives,we will have more unwanted babies and greater poverty;
    It isn't a joke when it comes from an ancient white rich guy- who can well afford to support birth control in health insurance.

    February 17, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. The ugly truth

    Based on the 2010 census in Ohio, the Columbus Dispatch said: "In Franklin County, where the overall child-poverty rate rose to nearly 26 percent last year, households headed by single women with children were more than five times as likely to be poor. About 8 percent of married couples with children lived in poverty; nearly 44 percent of single mothers did."
    So, all the liberals think the only answer is a prescription to birth control or an abortion pill? What ever happened to personal responsibility? If you're not ready to be responsible for children, don't have sex. Archaic thinking? Only because media and liberals have said it is. The only thing that's 100% is to abstain. If I don't want a speeding ticket, I can buy a radar detector or not speed. The latter is safer. Is this logic wrong? But I know it's "politically incorrect" to actually ask people who are not ready to be responsible to actually be responsible. It got Bill Cosby in bad terms, but I agreed with him.

    February 17, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. Andrew

    Isn't it funny how this issue seems to only surface around election time? How else is the Republican party going to get the religious zealots to the polls to vote straight R? Single issue voters are the most easily controlled group of voters. In 1930's the Knottsies used a single issue to grab power and drive their country into the ground, can you guess what that issue was?

    February 17, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  15. Jill

    Once again an old man in a suit is making stupid cracks about serious issues; just like all the white guys in suits in the Congress and Catholic Church. Gee, I wonder if the Catholic church allows Viagra? It's funny how they can support men who want to go to bed with women, but tell women to use an aspirin between their legs when there's any hint of a woman wanting to sleep with a man. Why not preach abstinence to men too? Talk about a double standard.

    February 17, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. Post Americans

    The Grand Old White Party is hanging itself and giving the POTUS Four More Years

    February 17, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  17. Bryan

    Just a joke some of you state? It was just a stupid joke, but it was about a serious topic. Rick Santorum believes their should a be a ban on birth control devices – pills, and other. He states, on the record, he believes they are "harmful" to women. This is no joke – it's his actual stance on the topic. So clearly, all we need to do is tell women to avoid fornication (thought this word betetr fit the times these people live in) and they won't? The point is not that is was an obvious joke – the point is that this campaign believes it to be the proper practice. He claims Amerioa is obsessed with sex – I turn the tables – the only campaing routinely talking about sex and how you should handle it is Rick Santorum – he wants to police your bedroom!

    February 17, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. NVa Native

    How much does Viagra – that is a recreational or pleasure drug – cost compared to the cost of "pill" that actually is effective in addressing many women’s medical issues other than just birth control?
    Both are covered by insurance companies, but the cost or purpose of recreational drug Viagra doesn’t seem to bother the neo-cons?
    And using the pill results in so many fewer abortions which the righists “claim” is one of their core issues.
    It’s easy to identify who the social & religious bigots are.

    February 17, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. Willy4

    That joke has to be 50 years old – it wasn't that funny then or now. That being said, why would anyone waste their time writing an article about it or getting worked up about it. Lighten up folks and worry about the important things...

    February 17, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  20. The ugly truth

    Jill, the Catholic Church does preach that for men too. Did you just make that comment without any basis or research?

    February 17, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. John Stonesypher

    Here's a thought – maybe Santorum and Friess could both hold an aspirin between their lips so we don't have to listen to their awful drivel.

    February 17, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. Scott Wallace

    I guess soon we won't be allowed to tell jokes at all anymore for fear of offending someone somewhere. Jeez. Lighten up people and grow a spine. No wonder the world is so FUBARed.

    February 17, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  23. Rhonda

    Wow! Toughen up world...what a bunch of wimps we've all become that we can't even laugh at a joke. I think its pathetic that he apologized... And incidentally I am a woman!

    February 17, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. inobetter

    Ho hum...Some people...

    February 17, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. callmecrazy

    So his response is to bring up Rev. Wright? Wow. Deflect much? Typical republican tactic.

    February 17, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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