By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
Updated 8:40 a.m. ET
Rick Santorum said today he cursed at a New York Times
reporter because he felt he was being harassed about his comment that
Mitt Romney is the "worst Republican" to take on President Obama.
Santorum's exchange Sunday night with reporter Jeff Zeleny was captured on video,
and staffers in the Romney campaign immediately seized on it as an
example of the former Pennsylvania senator becoming "unhinged."
STORY: Santorum: Romney 'worst' Republican vs. Obama
this morning about the incident on Fox News, Santorum said he "had
enough of you know what" and called it a "harassing moment."
"If you haven't cursed out a New York Times reporter during the course of a campaign, you're not really a real Republican," Santorum said.
said he was talking about health care during a campaign event in
Wisconsin on Sunday night when he made the Romney-Obama remark. "Pick
any other Republican in the country, but he (Romney) is the worst
Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama," he said.
Zeleny asked Santorum to elaborate, the candidate said: "Quit
distorting my words. It's bulls---." Zeleny posted Santorum's quote on
his Twitter feed.
Santorum said on Fox & Friends
today that his point is that Romney is "uniquely disqualified to make
the argument against Obamacare" because of his authorship of a
Massachusetts health care law that is similar to the national one signed
by President Obama.
Santorum plans to be at the U.S. Supreme Court today as justices hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of the national health care law.
Zeleny said in a CBS News interview
this morning that it is a "very common" tactic for candidates in either
party to "use the media as a foil" and suggested Santorum knew the
cameras were rolling during their encounter.
The Romney campaign seized on the exchange Sunday, and tweeted out several comments using the hashtag #tantorum.
Santorum, meanwhile, issued a statement shortly after the incident saying he won't back down. The statement, reported by Politico,
accused the "liberal press" of being a "defender and enabler of
Romney's and Obama's liberal agendas." It also doubled as a fundraising
pitch and asked supporters for $30 donations -- which the Santorum
campaign says is the equivalent of a New York Times subscription.