CNN's Chris Cuomo corners Rick Santorum over Native American comments

CNN's Chris Cuomo corners Rick Santorum over Native American comments
Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
Senator Rick Santorum speaking at the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa.

Rick Santorum had to answer for his offensive remarks about Native Americans when he appeared on CNN and primetime host Chris Cuomo refused to let him live it down.

On Monday, May 3, Santorum was asked about his remarks as Cuomo noted that it "seemed like you were trying to erase diversity in the interest of some White Christian right."seemed like you were trying to erase diversity in the interest of some White Christian right."

The former lawmaker quickly interjected to defend himself.

No, no, no, no, no. Just to be clear, what I was not saying was that Native American culture–I misspoke. What I was talking about is, as you can see from the run-up, I was talking about the founding of our country. I had given a long talk about the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the ideas behind those, and that I was saying we sort of created that anew, if you will. And I was not trying to dismiss Native Americans. In fact, I mentioned them because, yes, they were here and did have an impact. You're right. They have a huge impact, particularly in the west and many other areas of the country, where they have a huge impact on American culture. I was talking about — and I misspoke in this respect — I was talking about the founding and the principles embodied in the founding. I would never — and people said I'm trying to dismiss what we did to the Native Americans, far from it. The way we treated Native Americans was horrific.

Santorum admitted that the country has a history of treading Indigenous People and Black Americans as lesser-than.

Not deterred, Cuomo pushed back reminding Santorum of the Republican Party's history of "beating up the little guy."

"You have done this with homosexuality – comparing it to bestiality – same-sex marriage, minorities," said Cuomo. "And it seems like this is party of your party now, that 'there's something wrong with these Black people, that's why bad trouble happens. There's something wrong with these gay people. There's something wrong with these people who want reproductive rights. They're not us. They're not us. We started this country.'"

Santorum responded, "All I can say is if you listened to what I said before your question, the beautiful thing about the imperfect people that put together our founding documents, they put together a pretty perfect saying, all men are created equal and endowed by a creator with rights. As I said before we get into trouble in this country, and I agree there are people who look at people as other, look at people as less than."

Santorum's interview with Cuomo comes after his speech at the Standing Up For Faith & Freedom Conference for the Young America's Foundation.

"We birthed a nation from nothing," Santorum said to the conservative youth organization during his speech. "I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans but candidly there isn't much Native American culture in American culture."

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