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January 02, 2012 12:40 PM For no reason, Santorum ‘singled out blacks’

By Steve Benen

Over the weekend, Rick Santorum told an Iowa audience, “Diversity creates conflict. If we celebrate diversity, we create conflict.” It seemed like an odd thing for a presidential candidate to say.

The line does, however, help explain a bit about how the Republican presidential candidate thinks. (via Jamil Smith)

“Having that strong foundation of the faith and family allows America to be in a position where we can be more free,” Santorum says. “We can be free because we are good decent moral people.”

For Santorum that means cutting government regulation. Making Americans less dependent on government aid. Fewer people getting food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of federal assistance — especially one group.

“I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” Santorum begins. “I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families.”

Santorum did not elaborate on why he singled out blacks who rely on federal assistance. The voters here didn’t seem to care [emphasis added].

Why didn’t Ron Paul’s racist screed undermine his campaign in Iowa? This might have something to do with it.

As for Santorum, this is the sort of subtle racism — much like Newt Gingrich’s recent comments about low-income youth — that Republicans often don’t recognize as being racist. In Santorum’s mind, when he thinks of programs like food stamps, he automatically associates them with “black people’s lives.”

Why? Just because.

Also note the substance behind the policy position: Santorum thinks he’ll improve “black people’s lives” just as soon as he makes it harder for low-income families to eat and get medical care.

There’s a reason this guy lost re-election by 19 points in his home state.

Update: Tommy Christopher’s report goes into far more detail. Though several reporters who were on hand for the event, including correspondents for CBS and NPR, said Santorum referred specifically to “black people,” Christopher’s piece suggests otherwise.

Second Update: Here’s the video of Santorum’s comments. Listen and decide for yourself, but I think those journalists who reported the use of the phrase “black people” were hardly being unreasonable. I’ll concede it’s a judgment call, but it’s worth noting, for the sake of context, that when pressed for an explanation later, Santorum himself did not deny having used the phrase.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

  • martin on January 02, 2012 12:51 PM:

    Why? Just because.

    Because of more than 40 years of the Republican "Southern Strategy" paying off.

  • MikeBoyScout on January 02, 2012 12:52 PM:

    There's a funny correlation between Iowa and food stamps.
    Wonder if any of the caucus going Republicans understand it.

    The candidates clearly do not.

  • c u n d gulag on January 02, 2012 12:56 PM:

    Icky-sticky Rickey should have left it at, "“I don’t want to make black people’s lives better."

    It would be shorter, and also have the benefit of being 100% accurate.

  • chi res on January 02, 2012 12:57 PM:

    Wait a minute...

    Romney doesn't like Brown people...

    Santorum doesn't like Black people...

    Is there a pattern here???

    Certainly not one that the MSM will report on!

  • Danp on January 02, 2012 12:58 PM:

    It's that theory of pure good and evil again. It's not what you do, but who you are. Santorum is not suggesting that black people (or poor people) will change. He's suggesting they don't deserve to be treated as humans. When he says "we" are good decent moral people, he's including pedophile priests, but not the Obama family. And what they do to prove their morality is irrelevant.

  • RSA on January 02, 2012 1:00 PM:

    “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” Santorum begins. “I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families.”

    Racism aside, what does Santorum offer in the way of opportunities? Well, there's tax cuts. Oh, and tax cuts. And don't forget more tax cuts. Come on, poor people! How much more opportunity do you want?

  • Rochester on January 02, 2012 1:01 PM:

    You missed his "because they're Islamists" comment on the Sunday shows yesterday, when he was whining about how we didn't support our good friend, the Egyptian Dictator.

    Seriously.

    The man represents the ugly side of religion, where only the chosen are saved, and the rest are just weighing him down.

  • xaxnar on January 02, 2012 1:11 PM:

    Thomas Edsall has a column in the Times today with a section that's relevant here.

    http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/the-distorted-view-from-capitol-hill/?ref=opinion

    "...In other words, in the entire country, for every poor black there are nearly two whites living under the poverty line. Nationally, according to the most recent census data, the 2010 poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites was 9.9 percent and for blacks 27.4 percent,

    Members of Congress are attuned to the economic conditions in their home districts and states, but living and working in Washington for much, if not most, of their time encourages the view that poverty is a black problem."

  • Riverdaughter on January 02, 2012 1:12 PM:

    Oh, Jeez, and I was just thinking of moving back to Penn Hills. What a jerk. The "black people" thing was bad enough. He had to go and throw faith in it as well. I can't take another year of religion, faith and god on steroids.

  • T-Rex on January 02, 2012 1:13 PM:

    When Rick Santorum was serving in Congress, he not only got a salary paid with taxpayer money but he got health care and other perks and benefits. That constitutes taking money from someone else to make his own life better. And don't tell me it's different because he earned it. The voters who kicked his sorry arse out of office didn't think so.

  • Ken on January 02, 2012 1:14 PM:

    @MikeBoyScout: There's a funny correlation between Iowa and DoE ethanol subsidies, too, but the candidates don't talk about that either. Well, except Ron Paul, which makes his support in Iowa all the more mysterious.

  • elmo on January 02, 2012 1:15 PM:

    I love how in the Ayn Rand conservative mind paying someone a fair living wage is giving them "somebody else's money" like Fort Knox is their personal piggy-bank...

  • Spiny Norman on January 02, 2012 1:28 PM:

    Point of order. Rick Santorum should not be confused with that frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the product of anal sex. I mention this because it's an awfully easy mistake to make.

  • CDW on January 02, 2012 1:35 PM:

    Subtle racism? I guess it's better than an public lynching.

  • rrk1 on January 02, 2012 1:39 PM:

    As for Santorum, this is the sort of subtle racism,,,

    This is subtle? I suppose Sanctimonious Santorum would have to put on black face and tap dance, or better yet, wear a white sheet and hood while addressing the assemblage. I guess then it wouldn't be considered 'subtle'.

  • tom on January 02, 2012 1:40 PM:

    @CDW - definitely. I didn't see anything subtle about it, unless you compare it to someone who isn't even trying to convince himself that he cares about non-whites.

  • RalfW on January 02, 2012 1:41 PM:

    I fail to see what is subtle about Santorum's racism.

  • dalloway on January 02, 2012 1:43 PM:

    Well, see, he said that because Ricky is vying for the nomination of the Rich Asshole Tea Party or RAT-P. And their membership, except for useful idiots like Herman Cain, is almost entirely white. Folks like Ricky are so far out of touch they believe RATs are enough to get them elected.

  • Jane Scott on January 02, 2012 1:49 PM:

    Is this racist?

    "Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class."

    http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/the-future-of-the-obama-coalition/

  • Mimikatz on January 02, 2012 1:51 PM:

    I am starting to be afraid that if Santorum does really well, he might end up as the VP candidate for Romney to shore up his cred with evangelicals. Plus Romney os shorten foreign policy experience or knowledge.

  • zandru on January 02, 2012 1:56 PM:

    "living and working in Washington for much, if not most, of their time encourages the view that poverty is a black problem." sez xaxnar

    There ARE a lot of black folks in The District, aren't there? That's why it doesn't have a voting representative in Congress, nor any Senators, even though its population (602K) exceeds that of Wyoming (568K) and is close to Vermont (603K) and North Dakota (675K).

    Seriously.

  • jjm on January 02, 2012 1:56 PM:

    That's all these GOP candidates have got: pitting whites against everyone else (including not just blacks, but brown people, Muslims, Jews -- except Israeli right wingers).

    Maybe it used to work when there was a large white majority who could be spooked by visions of hungry dark hordes after whatever their blue collar jobs -- but seriously, in this day and age???!! When images of people turned out of their homes, hordes of white homeless people in every city (some black, rarely Hispanic or Asian) are there for everyone to see?? When whites have seen all blue collar jobs sent off to the third world??

    Or maybe, like Ron Paul, they are certain that at some point the race war will begin with whites the ultimate winners???

    By the way, ThinkProgress has a wonderful chart of just exactly these GOP candidates are promising as their agenda for the 1%: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/01/02/395363/gop-economic-agenda-for-the-one-percent/

  • Cybrguy on January 02, 2012 2:11 PM:

    "When Rick Santorum was serving in Congress, he not only got a salary paid with taxpayer money but he got health care and other perks and benefits. That constitutes taking money from someone else to make his own life better. And don't tell me it's different because he earned it. The voters who kicked his sorry arse out of office didn't think so."

    TRex, you miss an important point. HE STILL GETS that taxpayer paid healthcare and will get a taxpayer paid pension, EVEN THO HIS VOTERS KICKED HIM OUT!!!

  • chi res on January 02, 2012 2:20 PM:

    Is this racist?

    "Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class."

    Are you asking if Thomas Edsall is being racist for writing that line?

    Not sure, maybe just a dog whistle to people like you. But since he doesn't quote anything like that from anyone from the Democratic Party or the Obama administration in the entire article, your implication that Democrats are being racist is completely off base.

    Also, your poor understanding of the word "racism" doesn't help. Even if you're assuming that Democrats are stereotyping working class whites and treating them indiscriminately as a group, it's still not racism.

  • Spiny Norman on January 02, 2012 2:35 PM:

    Hey there, Jane Scott. Nice job yankin' a quote out of context. So, are you malicious or merely stupid? Or are you both? I'm betting both.

  • Stewart on January 02, 2012 2:36 PM:

    Blacks makeup 12% of the population and almost 40% of the welfare rolls alone.

    It's a giant issue we need to face, and that percentage is ridiculously disproportionate.

    I thought Holder said we need to discuss race.


  • Godot on January 02, 2012 2:43 PM:

    I lived in Appalachia (Southeastern Ohio)for about 20 years. Very hard-working but poor people, by and large. Lots of folks received TANF, food stamps, Medicaid, SCHIPS, WIC coupons, and were regulars at food pantries. About a 15% unemployment rate the whole time I was there. Very high poverty rates. Not very many African-Americans. Perhaps Rick would like to develop a race-based, two-tiered approach to social welfare programs?

  • Anonymous on January 02, 2012 2:51 PM:

    “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” Santorum begins. “I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families.”

    As has been pointed out more times than can be counted. Poor people pay more taxes than rich people and working class pay much higher income taxes.

    So all aide to the poor, regardless of color, amounts to is give the poor a tiny bit of their own money back.

    And of course as He Who Can't be Googled knows all Blacks are poor and only Blacks are poor, so all Blacks are on welfare and no one other race is on welfare.

    Or he just an obsessive racist.

  • Rick Taylor on January 02, 2012 2:52 PM:

    This is obviously some new meaning of the word `subtle' of which I was not previously aware.

  • chi res on January 02, 2012 2:54 PM:

    It's a giant issue we need to face, and that percentage is ridiculously disproportionate.

    Great, Stewart. Does this mean that republicans are willing to discuss stronger fair housing and job discrimination laws? Shall we throw reparations for 400 years of slavery into the discussion? How about strengthening unions--a clear path to the middle-class for many African-American families--by approving card check? And don't forget the expansion of public sector jobs, another path to self-sufficiency for minority communities.

    Okay, now you start the discussion on those issues. Once we get going, I'm sure to come up with others.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on January 02, 2012 3:02 PM:

    Sigh... Racism... Boy, have we come a long way. Had Lil' Ricky (or any of his GOP ilk) made this comment about 15 or 20 years ago, I would have been thoroughly enraged. While I do think it's pretty sick-an'-effin'-evil to race bait in politics, especially to a possibly feeble-minded and ignorant base, I can't say that this kind of bull (especially from Ricky, of all people) upsets me. I just can't help thinking:

    Rick Santorum, you little butt-f@ck of a tampon, sit down and be quiet. Nobody outside of Iowa's 99 counties gives a rat's about what your little cracker ass thinks. You are only embarrassing yourself with this one. On to the next one...

  • Stewart on January 02, 2012 3:18 PM:

    Lovely how all of the compassionate left is so civil on these boards....

    Chi Res: yes, let's talk about race.

    I find it amazing that low income black folks can get up at 5 am to spend $200 on Jordans, yet it's institutional racism that they blame for everything else.

    Maybe if they put more of their effort and resources into improving their lives, there wouldn't be so many problems (and apologists).

  • chi res on January 02, 2012 3:24 PM:

    What's wrong, Stewart? Don't like any of the issues I raised above? Don't want to really discuss solutions?

    Or are you just here, as we all assumed, to spew your hateful racist shit?

    Go away, troll.

  • dalloway on January 02, 2012 3:36 PM:

    And Stewart, thanks for standing in solidarity with your racist brothers in the Republican party who did such a great job of flushing our economy down the toilet during the Bush years. Funny, that's not a crime to you, but being on welfare is.

  • LJL on January 02, 2012 3:50 PM:

    There is absolutely nothing subtle in Santorum's racism. He, like all the rest of his compatriots in Iowa, speak in a very clear code the conveys their racism clearly to everyone but the brain dead. This is because the GOP is nothing more than the KKK without sheets. Moderated Republicans oppose outright genocide whereas the more conservative ones are willing to try it.

  • Godot on January 02, 2012 4:21 PM:

    Oh,Stewart. Should you actually believe what you said, you are an unfortunate idiot. I hope (possibly against hope) that you were just foolin'. On the other hand, "Jordans" are so passe. Those d--n n----s!

  • gg63 on January 02, 2012 4:23 PM:

    Shorter Santorum:

    "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money, I just want them to STFU"

  • Tuffy on January 02, 2012 5:45 PM:

    The specter of Ronald Reagan's apocryphal young bucks buying T-bone steaks with food stamps and welfare queens driving Cadillacs they bought with welfare checks has dominated American politics for 30 years. Santorum is just saying what Republican voters are thinking.

  • white19yrOldmale on January 02, 2012 6:21 PM:

    Honestly, from just this post I agree with Santorum. First point, I agree celebrating diversity strenghtens stereotypes, leading to racism. Not saying peoples ethnicities don't matter or that they shouldn't be proud, but I see no reason why they should be celebrated more than mine. And by saying you're "African"-American or "Hispanic"-American or "Asian"-American, you're essentially saying you're a different TYPE of American. What's wrong with just being American? A black person in France doesn't call themselves African-French. And trust me people in Africa don't consider you African. The color of one's skin is nothing more than a physical attribute, anyone who says different is racist.

    Second point, about less government aid. No brainer agree, federal government can't cut taxes and then give out more to the people, Der! Plus too many people rely on government aid, the American dream is about achieving things on your own. Doesn't count if the government had to give you money.

    Third point, why did he reference blacks when talking about food stamps? Because the majority of people getting them are black. It's like referencing Canadiens when talking about hockey. Should he still not have said that? Sure, definitely have to watch what you say, but people also have to grow some thick skin and not get so damn offended about every little thing. Definitely a big problem in this country these days if you ask me.

    Final notes; let me just say I'm only going off what was said in this little article, I know nothing about Santorum the man so maybe he is racist, but based on what was said here I say no. Racism will not die in this country until we quit seeing each as people of different colors and just see each other as Americans. Celebrating and demanding diversity simply highlights these differences that don't really exist. Someone who calls themself african-american or hispanic-american is no different than me. They're americans. Their culture is american, the language they speak is english, and the flag they salute is red, white and blue. Same as me, so until that changes, to me you're a fellow American and will be treated as such. I can also guarantee a great majority of "white" people would agree with me. Are there racists out there? Oh ya. But there's also murderers and pedophiles and rapists. We live in a country of over 300 million people, there's going to be a few nutjobs out there.

    Still think there's racism everywhere, go search google for the cnn article on the black kid who hung a confederate flag in his dorm room.

  • donald supeve on January 02, 2012 6:21 PM:

    Is this racist?

    Andrea Mitchell: Iowa Is "Too White, Too Evangelical, Too Rural"

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/01/02/andrea_mitchell_iowa_is_too_white_too_evangelical_too_rural.html

  • Tech on January 02, 2012 6:25 PM:

    Does Santorum realize that there are more whites on public assistance than Blacks? Or is he just as dumb as the rest of the GOP field of candidates?

  • chi res on January 02, 2012 6:46 PM:

    Is this racist? Andrea Mitchell: Iowa Is "Too White, Too Evangelical, Too Rural"

    (Did somebody leave the rock up? These people just keep crawling out!)

    Here's a little context for Mitchell's quote:

    "The rap on Iowa: It doesn't represent the rest of the country, too white, too evangelical, too rural."

    She was stating what is called "fact" (you may not have heard of these things in right-wing land). Iowa does indeed have higher percentages of white people, evangelicals, and rural areas than the rest of the country.

    And really, if that's the best you can do to try to show "liberal racism" you should hang it up, donald.

  • Anonymous on January 02, 2012 6:49 PM:

    Hi Santorum, Why don't you get your facts corrected before you open you mouth stating the black people are the one's receiving food stamps...I know who you are pleaasing in Iowa.
    Have you seen the breakdown of people who are on Food Stamps?
    Here it is:
    The racial breakdown of food stamp recipients is as follows:
    41% white
    36% African-American
    18% Hispanic
    3% Asian
    2% Native American
    1% unknown race or ethnicity

  • Joe Friday on January 02, 2012 6:53 PM:

    Nevertheless, I would love to see the former Pennsylvania Senator (while living in Virginia) win the Iowa caucus. It would push all of the Republican candidates even further to the Right and expose even more of their ugliness for all to see.

  • chi res on January 02, 2012 6:53 PM:

    Hey, little cracker boy!

    This-- the majority of people getting [food stamps] are black --is NOT TRUE.

    IN FACT, the majority of people getting food stamps are- wait for it - WHITE.

    Kinda fucks up that whole "we're better than they are" thing you had goin' for ya, doesn't it?

    But I bet you can still beat up puppies when you want, can't you?

  • rta on January 02, 2012 6:55 PM:

    Hi white19yrOldmale and Santorum, Why don't you get your facts corrected before you open you mouth stating the black people are the one's receiving food stamps...I know who you are pleaasing in Iowa. You only know what you hear, start checking your facts...
    Have you seen the breakdown of people who are on Food Stamps?
    Here it is:
    The racial breakdown of food stamp recipients is as follows:
    41% white
    36% African-American
    18% Hispanic
    3% Asian
    2% Native American
    1% unknown race or ethnicity

  • MuddyLee on January 02, 2012 7:10 PM:

    I believe that the SOUTHERN repubs are basically racist - I live in SC - I know a lot of these people. If affirmative action policies could be more focused on LOW INCOME people, and not on race/ethnicity, then the repubs MIGHT quit trying to play the race card (directly or indirectly) so much. But it's amazing how the actual percentages of people on food stamps, welfare, earned income tax credit don't seem to matter to conservatives: to them "poor" equals "black". You would think that NUMBERS would matter more to conservatives than they do - but what they really love is anecdotal "welfare cadillac" stories.

  • Joe Friday on January 02, 2012 7:32 PM:

    THIS JUST IN:

    According to the research department at CBS News, of the people in Iowa on Food Stamps:

    * 9% are Black

    * 84% are White

  • chi res on January 02, 2012 8:28 PM:

    but what they really love is anecdotal "welfare cadillac" stories

    But what they really love is to make up anecdotal "welfare cadillac" stories.

    There. Fixed it for ya.

  • g on January 02, 2012 8:39 PM:

    Amazing - the trolls are out! And this post wasn't even about Ron Paul!

    Fascinating Stewart seems to have access to data about shoe-buying habits and personal income. You care to cite some studies, bud?

    And Jane provides a perfect example of wingnut logic and thought process - she can't distinguish the difference between a journalist's paraphrased conjecture and a direct quote.

  • donna on January 02, 2012 8:48 PM:

    chi res, switch the races around in your comment and realize what an ANTI-WHITE racist you are.

    And you have the temerity to call somebody a "little cracker boy". Racist!

    Can you imagine complaining about a state being too black, or too mexican, or too whatever? But call it too white and that's fine with the anti-white progressives.

  • Sean Scallon on January 02, 2012 9:50 PM:

    "Why didn’t Ron Paul’s racist screed undermine his campaign in Iowa"

    Because Ron Paul has never said in public or written anything like this. Period.

  • chi res on January 03, 2012 12:04 AM:

    realize what an ANTI-WHITE racist you are

    You have proven your ignorance of the meaning of the word "racism".

    Racism is the use of race by one group of people (the dominant/most powerful race) to distinguish and subjegate another group of people. Since "white" is the dominant race in America, there cannot be, by definition, "anti-white racism".

    But then, a cracker like youself prob'ly don't got 'nuff book learnin' to know sech stuff.

    Can you imagine complaining about a state being too black

    Um, not really. But I can certainly imagine you walking through my neighborhood and complaining (as you piss your pants in fear) about it being too black.

  • chi res on January 03, 2012 12:08 AM:

    Ron Paul has never said in public or written anything like this

    Right. Those newsletters just had his name all over them, as did the fundraising letter, but golly gee, he din'nt know nothin' 'bout no newsletter or nothin' like that at all, I swear, really, no, I mean, REALLY, NOTHING!

  • BigGuy on January 03, 2012 12:26 AM:

    Picture a dog that has lost a leg. Democrats will help that dog by giving it an artificial leg so it�ll have four legs to stand on.

    Republican�s will help the dog by chopping off another leg. If a second leg is chopped off, diagonal to the first, the dog will have two legs to stand on; those legs may get strong.

    Just as the dog with only two legs to stand on gains greater strength in the legs that remain, so the GOP argues that the poor, the unemployed�, the deaf, dumb, blind and crippled, with far fewer benefits from the government will develop their own resources and be better able to stand forth in American society.

    The GOP is not heartless. They will not pay taxes to help you out, or your dog, but they will have you in their prayers.�

  • daniel rotter on January 03, 2012 2:07 AM:

    Even if you believe Mitchell's "too white" comment was racist, SHE, UNLIKE SANTORUM, IS NOT A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.

  • Stony99 on January 03, 2012 10:13 AM:

    Rick Santorum just figuratively stepped in a giant pile of ....... wait for it ......... a giant pile of Rick Santorum! (Pun intended!)

  • Marcia Dietrich on January 03, 2012 12:43 PM:

    Huntsman is one of them. His daddy made millions by being connected with Dow Chemical Company and Bain the same Bain that Romney is in bed with. Daddy also is reponsible for giving us plastic egg cartons, plastic hamburger containers, and god knows what else he has concocted. Don't be fooled by Huntsman's charm and good looks and foreign language credentials. After his term as governor he left with the same bad record on jobs and economy that Romney did. They are like non identical twins.

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