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CBS's Rose to Santorum: Why Are You Focused on Porn, Obama as 'Appeaser'?

Former Senator Rick Santorum, (R), Presidential Candidate; & Charlie Rose, CBS News Anchor | NewsBusters.orgOn Monday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose accused GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum of focusing too much on foreign policy and social issues, instead of the economy: "You talk about President Obama being an appeaser. You talk about [Obama] being soft on pornography and those kinds of things, rather than the bread and butter economic issues that you say are essential to who will win."

Earlier in the interview, Rose hinted at the left-leaning talking point that the Republican Party was waging a "war on women." He asked the former Pennsylvania senator, "Do you believe that there are particular issues of concern to women more than other voters?" [audio clips available here ]

The CBS anchor's hyping of the pornography issue, which isn't even a major part of Santorum's campaign strategy, came towards the end of the segment. The Republican countered Rose's "particular issues of concern to women" issue by stating, in part, that "women are a diverse group, just like men are a diverse group. I think the idea of trying to buttonhole people into one particular group or, you know, philosophy is- has been tried. It just doesn't work."


The veteran journalist followed up by citing Santorum's website and playing up his "appeaser" accusation against the President and the pornography issue. The former senator answered that these were two issues among many, and went on the attack against his Republican opponent Mitt Romney:

ROSE: ...[W]hen you go to your website, you talk about President Obama being an appeaser. You talk about [Obama] being soft on pornography and those kinds of things, rather than the bread and butter economic issues that you say are essential to who will win- not only the nomination, but also the general election.

SANTORUM: Well, Charlie, I mean, on our website, we have a whole lot of issues. I mean, that's important for people to know what your position is on a whole variety of issues. People write in, they ask and reporters ask- and, you know, we're very transparent about what we believe. There isn't just one issue. I mean, Mitt Romney thinks that this election is going to be about, you know, who can best manage the nanny state of Washington. No, this election is about freedom. This election is about a fundamental change in Washington, D.C. This is about, you know, reducing and- the size of government, getting government out of people's lives, particularly when it comes to their health and energy and financial services and banking. And, you know, we've got- we have a government that's trying to take over different sectors of the economy, and Mitt Romney joined Barack Obama in a lot of those takeovers.

On Friday, CNN's Fredrick Whitfield did something similar on the Newsroom program. Whitfield asked Republican strategist Ana Navarro, "Should porn, pornography, even be an issue that Santorum or any other candidate at this point should be talking about?"

The anchor then cited a former colleague of Santorum with regard to the fight over the GOP presidential race: "At the same time, Senator McCain said recently, this is the dirtiest campaign that he's ever seen."

Rose has a record of playing up side issues in the Republican nomination fight. On January 17, 2012, the CBS anchor hinted Newt Gingrich should apologize for a supposedly racially-tinged comment. Two days later, he touted a headline from the New York Times that claimed that "[Mitt] Romney's riches are being seen as new hurdle." During a previous interview with Rose on February 17, Santorum pushed back against the journalist's interrogating about supporter Foster Friess's "bad off-color joke" about contraception.

Earlier in March, the CBS anchor wondered if Republicans had "gone far enough in condemning" Rush Limbaugh's controversial attack on pro-ObamaCare contraception mandate activist Sandra Fluke.

The full transcript of Charlie Rose's interview of Rick Santorum, which aired 12 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Monday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: With us now in Rockford, Illinois, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum- Senator, good morning.

RICK SANTORUM, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning, Charlie.

[CBS News Graphic: "GOP Fight: Santorum On Key Illinois Race"]

ROSE: What is your path to the nomination?

SANTORUM: Well, we're just going to-

ROSE: Tell me how you're going to win enough delegates to win this nomination.

SANTORUM: Yeah. I think, you know, we just go out and compete in every single state. That's what we've been doing. We'll compete here. We feel like- obviously this is- as mentioned in the report by [Jan Crawford]- that this is a two-person race here in Illinois. We'll pick up a substantial number of delegates here. We hope to win here. I mean, this is a tough state, but- and we're being outspent about ten to one- but, you know, we've got a great grassroots effort, and we feel very confident that we're going to be competitive here.

[CBS News Graphic: "Delegate Count: Romney, 493; Santorum, 218; Gingrich, 120; Paul, 42"]

We've got Louisiana coming up on Saturday. We spent yesterday in Louisiana. We think we can win there- and just keep going on and try to win. And you know, if the other people stay in the race, it's going to be hard for anyone to get to that magic number, but if- you know, we believe that we get to the convention, Charlie, that the convention will nominate a conservative. They will not nominate the establishment moderate candidate, you know, from Massachusetts.

[CBS News Graphic: "The Gallup Poll; GOP Nomination For President: Among Republican Voters: Romney, 36%; Santorum, 28%; Gingrich, 12%; Paul, 11%; Margin of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]

ROSE: There are those who are arguing- or noticing that- they're taking notice of the fact that you declined to answer this question. If you could not see your way to enough delegates, and it looked like it would not be a brokered convention, you have said you'll decline to say you would drop out.

SANTORUM: Well, what I've said is that I think it's going to be very difficult, as this goes on, for anybody to get to the- to that magic number. And what I'm going to do is continue to work hard to make sure that there's a conservative who's the nominee of this party. We cannot win this election- we have proven in the past- when we nominate moderates- when we nominate, you know, Tweedledum versus Tweedledee- we don't win elections. We win elections when there are clear contrasts and bold choices, and that's what we're going to do in this election. That's why we believe that, ultimately, we will be the nominee.

[CBS News Graphic: "GOP Fight: Santorum On Brokered Convention"]

ROSE: What do you think the chances of a brokered convention are?

SANTORUM: I don't know. I think, obviously, they're increasing with Congressman [Newt] Gingrich staying in the race and Congressman [Ron] Paul staying in the race. We see in these caucuses that each of them- and even some of the primaries- they pull delegates. Our delegate calculation has Governor [Mitt] Romney far below 50%, and we think that there's a lot of primaries coming up, including Pennsylvania, my home state, where we can make some very big delegate- Texas is going to be another great state for us. You know, we feel very good that we're going to continue to win and do well. You know, the people in this country will have an opportunity to get a conservative against Barack Obama. That's what I think most Republicans would like to see.

[CBS News Graphic: "CBS News/New York Times Poll: Expected To Win Nomination; Among Republican Primary Voters: Romney, 73%; Santorum, 10%; Gingrich, 4%; Paul, #%; Margin of Error: +/- 3 Pts."]    

ROSE: Do you believe that there are particular issues of concern to women more than other voters?

SANTORUM: Oh, I think women are a diverse group, just like men are a diverse group. I think the idea of trying to buttonhole people into one particular group or, you know, philosophy is- has been tried. It just doesn't work. I mean, the bottom line is, you know, we- when I was in Pennsylvania, we did very well- very similar among men and women- the same thing in this election. You know, some states, we win women; in other states, you know, we lose, and it's- it really has to do with what your principles and your core is, and I have a core. I'm someone who has really strong convictions about the limited role of government, about the importance of having a strong defense- you know, lowering taxes and getting regulation down; and that's a sharp contrast with Mitt Romney, who is for RomneyCare, the blueprint for ObamaCare- advocated for RomneyCare, advocated for government mandates at the federal level. This is someone who is- who doesn't have a core. He's been on both sides of almost every single issue in the past ten years.

[CBS News Graphic: "GOP Fight: Santorum On 'Nasty' Race For Nomination"]

ROSE: But when you go to your website, you talk about President Obama being an appeaser. You talk about [Obama] being soft on pornography and those kinds of things, rather than the bread and butter economic issues that you say are essential to who will win- not only the nomination, but also the general election.

[CBS News Graphic: "CBS News/New York Times Poll: Most Important Problem; Among Republican Primary Voters; Economy & Jobs, 48%; Moral/Family Values, 9%; Debt/Deficit, 6%; Margin of Error: +/- 6 Pts."]

SANTORUM: Well, Charlie, I mean, on our website, we are a whole lot of issues. I mean, that's important for people to know what your position is on a whole variety of issues. People write in, they ask and reporters ask- and, you know, we're very transparent about what we believe. There isn't just one issue. I mean, Mitt Romney thinks that this election is going to be about, you know, who can best manage the nanny state of Washington. No, this election is about freedom. This election is about a fundamental change in Washington, D.C. This is about, you know, reducing and- the size of government, getting government out of people's lives, particularly when it comes to their health and energy and financial services and banking. And, you know, we've got- we have a government that's trying to take over different sectors of the economy, and Mitt Romney joined Barack Obama in a lot of those takeovers.

ROSE: At the same time, Senator McCain said recently, this is the dirtiest campaign that he's ever seen.

SANTORUM: Yeah, he should tell the guy that's- that he's supporting to stop spending tens and tens of millions of dollars running negative ads. It's not Rick Santorum who's been running all the negative ads- or even Newt Gingrich. It's Mitt Romney who has, systematically, just gone out there and run a negative campaign- has had no positive vision for this country, and spends billionaire dollars to tear down every single opponent that's in his path.

ROSE: If Newt Gingrich stays in the race, does it likely ensure- ensure- that Mitt Romney will get the nomination?

SANTORUM: Oh, I don't know how that all plays out. I mean, we're just going to take it a state at a time. We feel confident that- you know, look, we've won ten states. We've- and we've done so, really, against all the odds, and we've done it because we've had the best message; we have the best messenger; and I think, ultimately, that's what's going to be successful- not just in this primary, but in the general.

ROSE: Senator Santorum, thank you- hope you'll come back. See you soon.

SANTORUM: Thank you, Charlie- you bet.

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