For no reason, Santorum ‘singled out blacks’

Over the weekend, Rick Santorum told an Iowa audience, “Diversity creates conflict. If we celebrate diversity, we create conflict.” It seemed like an odd thing for a presidential candidate to say.

The line does, however, help explain a bit about how the Republican presidential candidate thinks. (via Jamil Smith)

“Having that strong foundation of the faith and family allows America to be in a position where we can be more free,” Santorum says. “We can be free because we are good decent moral people.”

For Santorum that means cutting government regulation. Making Americans less dependent on government aid. Fewer people getting food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of federal assistance — especially one group.

“I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” Santorum begins. “I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families.”

Santorum did not elaborate on why he singled out blacks who rely on federal assistance. The voters here didn’t seem to care [emphasis added].

Why didn’t Ron Paul’s racist screed undermine his campaign in Iowa? This might have something to do with it.

As for Santorum, this is the sort of subtle racism — much like Newt Gingrich’s recent comments about low-income youth — that Republicans often don’t recognize as being racist. In Santorum’s mind, when he thinks of programs like food stamps, he automatically associates them with “black people’s lives.”

Why? Just because.

Also note the substance behind the policy position: Santorum thinks he’ll improve “black people’s lives” just as soon as he makes it harder for low-income families to eat and get medical care.

There’s a reason this guy lost re-election by 19 points in his home state.

Update: Tommy Christopher’s report goes into far more detail. Though several reporters who were on hand for the event, including correspondents for CBS and NPR, said Santorum referred specifically to “black people,” Christopher’s piece suggests otherwise.

Second Update: Here’s the video of Santorum’s comments. Listen and decide for yourself, but I think those journalists who reported the use of the phrase “black people” were hardly being unreasonable. I’ll concede it’s a judgment call, but it’s worth noting, for the sake of context, that when pressed for an explanation later, Santorum himself did not deny having used the phrase.