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CBS's Crawford: Mrs. Santorum's 'Frustration' With Media 'Understandable'

Jan Crawford spotlighted Karen Santorum's "frustrations with the media" on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, adding that it was "understandable. They've been mocked by some for how they grieved the loss of their infant son." Crawford also noted how Mrs. Santorum's "life...has been under a microscope. In nearly every story written about her, it's mentioned she lived with a doctor...[who] performed abortions."

The political correspondent landed the first Big Three network interview with the GOP candidate's wife. At the end of the segment, Crawford stated that "voters tell us...one thing they like about [Rick] Santorum- he means what he says, and he's real. And in that sense, he and his wife are very much alike." Anchor Gayle King later sang the praises of Karen Santorum: "[She] needs to do more interviews...because you come across really liking her."


The CBS journalist began her report by outlining how Mrs. Santorum is "very much her husband's partner and equal. She's a lawyer and a nurse, and she told me how they talk about policy and strategy, and she tells him when he slips up....in our wide-ranging conversation, she was warm, genuine, and she talked openly about their life, their marriage, and the challenges they've endured."

After spending the first part of the interview on her family's home life and the story of how she met her husband, Mrs. Santorum came to his defense against the accusation from the left that the former senator is waging a "war on women":

K. SANTORUM: He's been surrounded by strong women his whole life. He continues to be surrounded by strong women in his daily life, and...some of the best staffers he has ever had, from press secretary to scheduler...have all been women. He completely supports well-educated career women.

Crawford then moved to the sensitive topics of the death of the Santorums' son, Gabriel, and Mrs. Santorum's past life with an abortionist:

CRAWFORD (voice-over): Karen Santorum's frustrations with the media are clear and, in many ways, understandable. They've been mocked by some for how they grieved the loss of their infant son, Gabriel, 16 years ago. Born prematurely, he died shortly after he was born.

K. SANTORUM: We brought Gabriel home from the hospital to have a funeral Mass and to bury him And so, they twist it and they make it sound like it was some crazy thing. We brought him home from the hospital to introduce him to our kids and embrace him. It was for the funeral Mass and for the burial. And what is so sad for me, Jan, is that no one can tell me how to grieve, and I'm not going to tell anyone else how to grieve.

CRAWFORD: Even Karen Santorum's life nearly 30 years ago has been under a microscope. In nearly every story written about her, it's mentioned she lived with a doctor 40 years her senior who, as part of his practice, performed abortions.

K. SANTORUM: I went through a phase- it was a phase- when I was young and made some stupid decisions, and I did some stupid things, and I did go through a phase of life where I wasn't living the way I should have been. And for anyone out there who's listening, who's in the same phase- you know, it's- there is healing; there is change.

For the record, the two most prominent media voices who badmouthed the Santorums' reaction to Gabriel's death were Alan Colmes (who later apologized) and the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson.

The full transcript of Jan Crawford's interview of Karen Santorum, which aired at the top of the 8 am Eastern hour of Tuesday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: On this Super Tuesday, we'll have a revealing look at Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum through the eyes of his wife, Karen.

ERICA HILL: Political correspondent Jan Crawford is in Columbus,Ohio with a story that you will see only on 'CBS This Morning.' Jan, good morning.

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning. Karen Santorum is very much her husband's partner and equal. She's a lawyer and a nurse, and she told me how they talk about policy and strategy, and she tells him when he slips up. But she has really stayed behind the scenes. She rarely talks to the media. This was her first network television interview, and in our wide-ranging conversation, she was warm, genuine, and she talked openly about their life, their marriage, and the challenges they've endured.

[CBS News Graphic: "Standing By Her Man: Karen Santorum On Life With Rick"]

K. SANTORUM (from pre-recorded interview): When you walk through the door, he is not a senator, he's not a guy running for president. He's a husband and a father, and he immediately shifts gears. He's in the kitchen making a great meal.

CRAWFORD: What's his specialty?

K. SANTORUM: Oh, my goodness. Chicken marsala, pasta arabiata, pancakes for the kids.

CRAWFORD: But these days, Rick Santorum is at home on the campaign trail-

RICK SANTORUM, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (from campaign event): A month ago, they didn't know who we are, but they do now.

CRAWFORD: As a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president.

CRAWFORD (on-camera): Did you ever think I could be first lady?

K. SANTORUM: No, and I still don't even go there. I just take one day at a time and work hard and pray hard, and we'll see where this is going.

CRAWFORD (voice-over): They've come a long way since they met by chance 24 years ago in Pittsburgh, when then-Karen Garver was offered a job at the firm where Santorum worked. He was with a group of lawyers who took her to a recruiting dinner.

K. SANTORUM: It was honestly a love-at-first-sight kind of thing.

CRAWFORD (off-camera): Really?

K. SANTORUM: Oh, absolutely.

CRAWFORD: What was it?

K. SANTORUM: He was so funny. He was just very kind and friendly, and I went home that night and wrote in my diary, I met the guy I'm going to marry.

CRAWFORD (on-camera): Did you take the job offer?

K. SANTORUM: Yes, I did. (laughs) It was because of him.

CRAWFORD (voice-over): They married in 1990, the year Rick Santorum was first elected to Congress. Less than two years later, Elizabeth, the first of their eight children was born.

K. SANTORUM: I knew, once I had kids, I wanted to be a mom at home.

CRAWFORD: The Santorums are devout Catholics. Rick Santorum's strongly conservative views on social issues- he's anti-abortion, and is morally opposed to birth control- have led critics to question his views on women.

K. SANTORUM: Number one, he is- he's been surrounded by strong women his whole life. He continues to be surrounded by strong women in his daily life, and the best- some of the best staffers he has ever had, from press secretary to scheduler, and- you know, the issues people- have all been women. He completely supports well-educated career women. If I wanted to work full time as a lawyer, he would have been 100 percent behind me.

CRAWFORD (on-camera): One hundred percent? Even with the children?

K. SANTORUM: One hundred percent- absolutely. If I told him tomorrow, Rick, you know what? I want to go out and work full time, he would have been 100 percent behind me.

CRAWFORD (voice-over): Karen Santorum's frustrations with the media are clear and, in many ways, understandable. They've been mocked by some for how they grieved the loss of their infant son, Gabriel, 16 years ago. Born prematurely, he died shortly after he was born.

K. SANTORUM: We brought Gabriel home from the hospital to have a funeral Mass and to bury him. And so, they twist it and they make it sound like it was some crazy thing. We brought him home from the hospital to introduce him to our kids and embrace him. It was for the funeral Mass and for the burial. And what is so sad for me, Jan, is that no one can tell me how to grieve, and I'm not going to tell anyone else how to grieve.

CRAWFORD: Even Karen Santorum's life nearly 30 years ago has been under a microscope. In nearly every story written about her, it's mentioned she lived with a doctor 40 years her senior who, as part of his practice, performed abortions.

K. SANTORUM: I went through a phase- it was a phase- when I was young and made some stupid decisions, and I did some stupid things, and I did go through a phase of life where I wasn't living the way I should have been. And for anyone out there who's listening, who's in the same phase- you know, it's- there is healing; there is change.

CRAWFORD: Santorum said that time made her realize what was important to her.

K. SANTORUM: I just feel very strongly about faith and family, and I very- I also feel very strongly about life- the life issue. And now that we have a special-needs little girl, I feel especially stronger about, you know, the dignity and value of every person from the moment of conception until death.

CRAWFORD: Their daughter Bella was born with a rare genetic disorder. Along with the death of her son, Karen Santorum said learning Bella's diagnosis was the most difficult time in her life.

K. SANTORUM: It was always one of us was at the hospital, one of us was at home with the kids, and then, we would switch. And I- I just- he was amazing, bringing me coffee, bringing me breakfast- you know, helping with the kids and helping out at home.

CRAWFORD: The demands of their family life and children was one reason Karen Santorum initially didn't want her husband to run for president. Another was the loss of privacy.

K. SANTORUM: I wouldn't even talk about it for a while. And so, eventually, Rick said, I'm just going to ask you, just pray about it and- so I decided to pray about it. It took us about a year to make the decision. We talked a lot about it; we prayed a lot about it; and, in the end, despite my resistance, I honestly believe that this is the path God wants us on.

CRAWFORD (live): Now, Karen Santorum told me she believes her husband also brings one quality the other candidates lack- and that's courage, that he will fight for what he believes in, as he fought for their family. And you know, voters tell us that's one thing they like about [Rick] Santorum- he mean what he says, and he's real. And in that sense, he and his wife are very much alike.

HILL: So, Jan, obviously, the campaign is putting her out there now to talk a little bit more, but how involved is she on a day-to-day basis on the campaign trail?

CRAWFORD: Well, we don't see her nearly as much as we do the other candidates' wives, like Mitt Romney's wife Ann, for example. She's almost at every rally, speaking at every rally. Karen Santorum has stayed behind the scenes, and we talked about that in our interview. She said they talk on the phone. She tells him when she thinks he, maybe, goes too far- the other day, for example, when he called President Obama a 'snob'. She had something to say about that. So she is behind the scenes, but we have been seeing her lately at some of these rallies. She says though, obviously, the demands of her life, her children- that makes their- them very different than the other candidates, whose children are grown, or, in Newt Gingrich and his wife's case, do not have children.

HILL: Jan, thank you.

GAYLE KING: I'm thinking Karen Santorum needs to do more interviews- I want to see her more out there front and center, because you come across really liking her- really liking her. I think you get to see an insight into her and into him.

ROSE: It helps to understand him better-

KING: Right- that's right

ROSE: Because of the way she talks about, not only him, but their own lifestyle.

HILL: And it is interesting, as you both point out, that this is really one of the first times we've really heard from her, and that they- especially when things were tough earlier on in the campaign- interesting that we wouldn't have heard more from her at that time.

KING: I'm glad she came to us. Say what you will about Rick Santorum- he's always consistent, and you look at Karen Santorum- very interesting. Go Jan Crawford!

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.