NYT reporter: Santorum outburst was for cameras

(CBS News) -- When presidential hopeful Rick Santorum lost his cool with the press on Sunday, he was playing to the cameras to build support among conservative Republicans, the New York Times reporter who was on the other end of an outburst from the candidate said Monday.

"It is a very common tactic for Republican presidential candidates. Or even Democratic presidential candidates to try and use the media a foil here. We've seen Newt Gingrich do it throughout the campaign season. So he clearly knew the cameras were rolling here," Jeff Zeleny said in an interview with "CBS This Morning." (Watch the exclusive video of the exchange above.)

Santorum was campaigning in Wisconsin Sunday and called rival Mitt Romney "the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama."

When reporters rushed the candidate after his remarks to get a clarification of what he meant, Santorum lashed out, telling the press that he was referring the former Massachusetts governor's record on healthcare, which made him "uniquely disqualified" to run against President Obama.

Pressed by Zeleny on what he meant, Santorum lashed out and called it "bull(expletive)" to even ask for clarification because he frequently criticizes Romney for his role signing the healthcare legislation in Massachusetts that was later used as a blueprint for the national law passed in 2010.

Zeleny noted that Santorum recently had to walk back remarks that there was no difference between Romney and Mr. Obama.

"So he is very sensitive to these questions now. And I think we saw some animation here. It is one of the reasons his supporters like him because he does become animated like this when he is campaigning," Zeleny said.

Candidate page: Rick Santorum
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