Rick Santorum Blasted by NAACP for Racial Remarks [VIDEO]

on January 05 2012 9:44 AM
Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum has come under fire from the NAACP for conflating welfare recipients with African-Americans. Reuters

It's been less than 48 hours since Rick Santorum came within a hair of winning the Iowa caucuses, but already he has come under fire for a racially charged remark that he made on Sunday.

At an 11th-hour campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa, Santorum said, in the context of calling for entitlement reform, I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.

On Thursday, the NAACP blasted Santorum for implying that most welfare recipients are black, noting that in Iowa, where Santorum spoke, 84 percent of food stamp recipients are actually white and only 9 percent are black.

NAACP: Santorum's Comments Are Outrageous

Santorum's targeting of African-Americans is inaccurate and outrageous, and lifts up old race-based stereotypes about public assistance, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said. He conflates welfare recipients with African-Americans, though federal benefits are in fact determined by income level.

The NAACP, which does not endorse or oppose political candidates but counters misleading, ignorant or inflammatory comments, added in its statement that such comments can have lasting repercussions.

This kind of statement is harmful because it places blame on struggling Americans due to race rather than the institutional, economic and political forces that cause high unemployment and poverty, said Hilary Shelton, the group's Washington bureau director and senior vice president for advocacy and policy. It is misleading for Senator Santorum to imply that Iowans or Americans of any race would prefer to live on government subsidies, which average only $133.79 a month, or about $4.50 a day.

When first questioned about his remarks on CBS News, Santorum told Scott Pelley that his support for entitlement reform had nothing to do with race.

Let me just say that no matter what, I want to make every life better, he said. I don't want anybody -- and if you look at what I've been saying, I've been pretty clear about my concern for dependency in this country and concern for people not being more dependent on our government, whatever their race or ethnicity is.

In a subsequent interview with CNN, Santorum backtracked further, claiming he had not actually said black at all.

After reviewing the footage, I'm pretty confident that I didn't say 'black,' he said. I was starting to say one word, and I sort of came up with another word and moved on, and it sounded like 'black.'

Santorum did stumble slightly over his words just before the line in question, but the word black seemed clear. Watch the video below. What do you think?

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