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NAACP Slams Santorum for Remarks About Blacks NAACP Slams Santorum for Remarks About Blacks

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

NAACP Slams Santorum for Remarks About Blacks

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum(Chet Susslin)

January 4, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is quickly becoming familiar with the front-runner scrutiny machine: A day after this break-out performance in Iowa’s Republican caucuses, he came under fire from the country’s leading civil rights organization for comments singling out blacks as people whose lives he would improve without using “somebody else’s money.”

In response to a voters’ question, Santorum on Monday was discussing the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled when he commented, “That’s what the bottom line is. So 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 and provide for themselves and their families.”

 

In a statement Wednesday, the NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said, “Senator Santorum’s targeting of African Americans is inaccurate and outrageous, and lifts up old race-based stereotypes about public assistance. He conflates welfare recipients with African Americans, though federal benefits are in fact determined by income level. In Iowa for example, only nine percent of food stamp recipients are black, while eighty-four percent of recipients are white.”

Hilary Shelton, the organization’s Washington Bureau director and senior vice president for policy, said, “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. 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 dollars a day.”

Santorum said Wednesday that he didn’t use the word “black” in his comments, although it may have sounded to others like he did. In an appearance on CNN, he said, “I’ve looked at that quote (on videotape). ... I’m pretty confident that I didn't say black. (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 also said in another interview Wednesday that he tends to use the term African-American instead of black.

Santorum made his original comments to a crowd in Sioux City, Iowa on Monday, after he was asked by an audience member at a campaign event, “How do we get off this crazy train? We’ve got so much foreign influence in this country now. …Where do we go from here?”

In a lengthy answer, Santorum talked about reviving U.S. manufacturing and then pivoted to the government-dependency theme.

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