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Santorum backer Foster Friess apologizes for contraception comment

Santorum backer Foster Friess on MSNBC.
MSNBC
Santorum backer Foster Friess on MSNBC.
MSNBC

Foster Friess, a major donor to the super PAC backing Rick Santorum, has apologized for a joke about contraception that prompted outrage from women's groups.

"Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives," Friess said on MSNBC on Thursday, adding: "The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn't that costly."

The implication was that women held the aspirin between their legs, which left them unable to open them.

In a statement on his website, Friess said the "joke bombed," writing that "many didn't recognize it as a joke but thought it was my prescription for today's birth control practices."

"In fact, the only positive comments I got were from folks who remembered it from 50 years back," he continued. "Birth control pills weren't yet available, so everyone laughed at the silliness on how an aspirin could become a birth control pill."

Though Friess' statement is dated today, February 17, it appears to have been written last night.

"After listening to the segment tonight, I can understand how I confused people with the way I worded the joke and their taking offense is very understandable," he writes. "To all those who took my joke as modern day approach I deeply apologize and seek your forgiveness. My wife constantly tells me I need new material--she understood the joke but didn't like it anyway--so I will keep that old one in the past where it belongs."

Appearing Friday on "CBS This Morning,"Santorum called Friess' joke "stupid," but added that he's "not responsible" for comments by supporters.

"I'm not responsible for any comment that anybody who supports me makes and my record stands for itself," he said.

Santorum said the comment does not reflect his record on contraception and said questions about Friess' comments reflect "gotcha politics that you get from the media."

In his written apology, Friess' went on to write that Santourm "publicly stated he would not ban contraception; he has said if he were a member of a state legislature which introduced such a bill, he would vote against it; and he has incurred the wrath of his more conservative friends for voting to fund contraception to fight AIDS in Africa."

Santorum has been criticized this week for comments suggesting he opposes contraception, including a 2006 statement that he is "not a believer in birth control."

"I think it's harmful to women; I think it's harmful to society," Santorum said. In a different interview - this one from October - he said contraception is "not okay" and vowed to "get rid of any idea that you have to have abortion coverage or contraceptive coverage."

In an interview on Fox News last night, Santorum addressed his own views on contraception, saying he did not think it should be a government issue.

"Not everything...that I disagree with morally should the government be involved in," he told Fox's Greta Van Susteren. "It's something that people have a right to do in this country. And it certainly will be safe to do so under the Santorum presidency."

Friess wrote in his apology note that women "appreciate [Santorum's] clear stance on contraception which they favor."

"His strong personal convictions on the subject are well-known and he has never attempted to turn his personal preference into public policy unlike the stand President Obama has taken in forcing Catholic institutions to embrace his world view," wrote Friess.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Friess gave the Red, White and Blue Fund, a pro-Santorum super PAC, $331,000 in 2011. The super PAC raised $764,000 overall. Friess' 2012 support for Santorum is not yet known.

"To those who applauded my comments and remembered the joke, thanks for your encouragement," Friess concluded his apology. "To those who thought I was callously encouraging that as a prescription for today, I kindly ask your forgiveness."