On Sunday's Face the Nation, CBS's Bob Schieffer interrogated Rick Santorum over his offensive against President Obama, particularly over the Republican candidate's "theology" attack on the President's environmental policies. Schieffer seemed to channel a certain former MSNBC anchor when he asked, "I've got to ask you, what in the world were you talking about, sir?" [audio clips available here; video below the jump]
The anchor led his program with an outline of his criticism of Santorum, focusing on three recent comments from the GOP presidential candidate: "Did you hear what Rick Santorum said?...In one twenty-four-hour-period, he questioned the President's religious beliefs....said prenatal testing is really just the President's way to reduce costs in taking care of the disabled....and questioned the value of public schools....We'll ask him about all of it this morning..."
Just under a day later, on Monday's CBS This Morning, political correspondent Jan Crawford pointed out how both the media and the Obama campaign misconstrued the former Pennsylvania senator's remark:
CRAWFORD: Over the weekend, for the first time, the [Obama] campaign took direct aim at that new frontrunner, Santorum- hitting him hard for something he didn't really even say....many in the media reported that Santorum was somehow suggesting the President wasn't a Christian, and the Obama campaign, trying to typecast Santorum as an extremist, pounced.....On 'Face the Nation' Sunday, Santorum said he wasn't talking about Obama's religious faith, but his liberal ideology.
Once Santorum answered Schieffer's initial "sir" question, the veteran anchor pressed ahead and asked, "How does that translate into some sort of theology that the President's theology is not based on the Bible? I mean, that suggests that he's not a Christian." The Republican replied, in part, that he "wasn't suggesting that President's not a Christian," and attacked the Democrat's left-wing environmental policy as "an attempt...to centralize power and to give more power to the government." The CBS journalist, however, came back and claimed that the candidate's "use of the word 'theology,' perhaps...might lead some people to suggest that you were questioning the President's faith."
Later in the interview, Schieffer ripped Santorum's criticism of ObamaCare's mandate for prenatal testing: "Senator, do you not want any kind of prenatal testing? I mean, would we just turn our back on science that this is something that expectant mothers should not go through, that it's best not to know about these things ahead of time? I mean is that what you're saying here?"
When the former senator pointed out that some prenatal testing are "used for the purposes of identifying children who are disabled, and in most cases, end up as a result with abortions," the CBS host followed up by asking, "you're not saying that the cause of this, that the President looks down on disabled people, are you? You're not accusing him of that?" Santorum answered by spotlighting the President's own record from before 2008:
SANTORUM: Well, the President supported partial birth abortion, and partial birth abortion is a procedure used almost exclusively to kill children late in pregnancy when they've been found out to be disabled. The President voted for a provision that said that children born alive as a result of abortions late in pregnancy who were otherwise viable should be allowed to be killed by the doctor. I think the President has a very bad record on the issue of abortion and children who are disabled who are in the womb, and I think this simply is a continuation of that idea.
During the last part of the segment, Schieffer pursued Santorum over his attack on the current public education system. He condescendingly asked, "Are you saying that we shouldn't have public schools now? I mean I thought public schools were the foundation of American democracy." He also raised how "there are little communities where the people couldn't afford to have a public school, and that's why you have states involved in the schools."
Over a month earlier, Schieffer slammed another Republican presidential candidate- Mitt Romney- for the much-publicized "I liked to fire people" remark, and added, "I guess the only thing worse you could say...when people are out of work is that Herbert Hoover is my hero or something like that. It just boggles the mind." At that time, Crawford also pointed out that that Romney's sentence was being "taken completely out of context" by several of his GOP competitors.
The transcript of Bob Schieffer's questions to Rick Santorum on Sunday's Face The Nation, including some of Santorum's answers for context, and Schieffer's lede for the program, is available at MRC.org.