NAACP blasts Santorum for targeting blacks in entitlement reform

Former Senator Rick Santorum Picture courtesy Gage Skidmore via Flickr

The NAACP on Wednesday blasted Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum for recently singling out blacks for receiving federal benefits, calling his remarks "inaccurate and outrageous."

At a campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa on Sunday, Santorum was talking about entitlement reform when he said, "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money."

NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement Wednesday that "Santorum's targeting of African Americans is inaccurate and outrageous, and lifts up old race-based stereotypes about public assistance."

Jealous pointed out that federal benefits are determined by income level, not race. In Iowa, for instance, 9 percent of food stamp recipients are black and 84 percent are white. Overall, 91 percent of Iowa residents are white, and nearly 3 percent are black.

When CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley asked Santorum about his remarks, he said he could not recall the context of the comments and stressed that he wants to make life better for Americans regardless of race.

"Let me just say that no matter what, I want to make every lives [sic] better - I don't want anybody - and if you look at what I've been saying, I've been pretty clear about my concern for dependency in this country and concern for people not being more dependent on our government, whatever their race or ethnicity is," he said.

On CNN Wednesday, Santorum said he reviewed the context in which he made his remarks and said, "I'm pretty confident that I didn't say 'black.'" The GOP contender said he "was starting to say one word, and I sort of came up with another word and moved on and it sounded like black."

(Watch Santorum make the remarks in the video above)

Santorum's campaign gained new momentum Tuesday night after he virtually tied with Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses.

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