Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Santorum defends "unemployment rate" comments

On Fox News Monday night, Rick Santorum tried to clarify his remark that he didn't care about the unemployment rate.

"What I said was that the unemployment rate -- it didn't matter what it was between now and election time, because the fundamental issue that's causing the unemployment, that's causing the economic distress in our country, is the fact that the government is imposing its will and mandating things on people and creating a yoke on top of businesses that makes it hard to employ.

So if you want to solve the unemployment problem, you have to solve the regulatory tax and government oppression problem. So one is the cause of the other. So it's not that unemployment isn't important, it's just you have to get to the foundational root cause of what is causing the unemployment."



Earlier in the day, Santorum had made the controversial comments at a rally in Illinois.

"We need a candidate who's going to be a fighter for freedom who's going to go out there and make that the central theme in this race, because it is the central theme in this race. I don't care what the unemployment rate's going to be. It doesn't matter to me. My campaign doesn't hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. There's something more foundational that's going on here."



Mitt Romney immediately pounced on the statement, which damagingly, reinforced the perception that Santorum isn't sufficiently focused on the economy.

"I'm concerned about the people who are out of work. One of the people who's running also for the Republican nomination today said that he doesn't care about the unemployment rate, that doesn't bother him. I do care about the unemployment rate. It does bother me. I want to get people back to work."