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Real Talk: Rick Santorum, Keep Your Foot Out of Your Mouth

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Rick Santorum
Republican presidential candidate and former two-term U.S. Senator, Rick Santorum has been in a big ol’ boiling pot of hot water with African-American voters lately.
 
Last Sunday, Santorum offered some controversial commentary at a campaign event in Iowa. “I don’t want to make Black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” Santorum told the crowd. “I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”
 
As you can guess, he was quickly labeled a “racist.” NAACP President Benjamin Jealous denounced the comments as "outrageous," and even Fox News host Bill O'Reilly had to admit the comments were problematic, especially as, "most of the people, as you know, on welfare are white people."
 
Since that interview, Santorum has claimed that he was not, in fact, speaking about African-Americans at all, and never said the word "Black." Instead, Santorum said it may have sounded as if he said, “Black,” when what he actually said was, “blah.”
 
Huh?
 
In “Why Santorum's Comment Isn't Racist” on The Root, David Swerdlick defended Santorum, or at least the sentiment of his initial statement. “Santorum tried -- and awkwardly failed -- to articulate a position that you hear all the time from Black conservatives: that government assistance hurts African-Americans over the long term,” wrote Swerdlick. “The problem for Santorum is that it doesn't sound as if he truly understands that message.”
 
He added, “If all he can muster is a claim that what he really meant to say was ‘blah’ -- not Black -- it won't make him look bigoted. It'll just make him look like a coward.”
 
Santorum stepped in it again on Saturday at a New Hampshire event when he called President Obama a “snob” in an effort to attract blue-collar workers without degrees. He added, “We are leaving so many children behind because they're not ready to go to college -- they don't want to go to college, they don't need to go to college.”
 
The diss is a reaction to President Obama’s stated effort for the U.S. to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
 
I don’t understand attacking a goal of getting people educated, especially when so many folk go in debt to get degrees, and/or work two jobs to keep themselves or their children in school so they can live a more lucrative life. And it’s not like Obama never said he would force people to go to college. How does a man like Santorum, one with -- count ‘em --  two advanced degrees (MBA and law) stand up in front of a room and say that?
 
I get that everyone doesn’t like all of President Obama’s policies and goals. And in any campaign, I expect that people will attack issues they don’t agree with. Welfare is a touchy subject that affects all colors of Americans, and is an issue that needs further addressing. But increasing education? What’s there to argue about with that?
 
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk
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