Santorum Maddow interview: Presidential hopeful expresses regret for comparing gay sex to bestiality in 2003.

Santorum Says He Regrets Infamous “Man on Dog” Remark About Gays

Santorum Says He Regrets Infamous “Man on Dog” Remark About Gays

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July 23 2015 11:50 AM

Santorum Admits to Rachel Maddow That He Regrets Infamous “Man on Dog” Remark About Gays

Rick Santorum appears in Wisconsin during his 2012 presidential primary campaign.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Pennsylvania senator and 2016 presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that he regrets comparing gay sex to hot "man on dog" action, a comparison that ultimately led to the "Google problem" that has hounded him since. (Ha ha, "hound.")

Here, for your recollection and edification, is the original 2003 quote:

In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. [Marriage] is not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing.

During Wednesday's interview on MSNBC, Maddow and Santorum got around to the subject as he was trying to avoid saying whether he saw sexuality as a choice, claiming that "I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about these things, to be very honest with you." Maddow greeted that answer with visible disbelief: "You talk about gay rights all the time. That's the whole reason you were a nationally famous figure before you ever ran for president." She then challenged him directly over the "man on dog" remark, which Santorum made while equating a sodomy ban struck down by the Supreme Court with laws preventing pedophilia and bestiality. "Why did you say the word dog?" she asked.

Santorum, after first attributing the characterization to a 1986 Supreme Court opinion that makes no mention of dogs or any other animal, finally told Maddow, "Trust me, I wish I'd never said that."

It was a flippant comment made to a reporter who was not being particularly professional, in my opinion, in the way she was conducting her interview, but that's not an excuse for me. I take responsibility for what I said ... It was a flippant comment that should not have come out of my mouth. But the substance of what I said, which is what I've referred to, I stand by that. I wish I had not said it in the flippant term that I did and I know people were offended by it and I wish I hadn't said it.

Maddow also questioned Santorum about the role he envisioned for the Supreme Court after playing a video of him telling a cheering crowd that the Supreme Court doesn't "have the final say on everything—the people have the final say on everything." Asked whether he thought that, in spite of last month's Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, Congress could pass a national ban on same-sex marriage, Santorum replied that Congress was free to pass any law it cared to, regardless of previous Supreme Court rulings:

When I took my oath as a United States senator, what did I say? I would uphold the Constitution. And my feeling is, and I think it's, clearly, from our founding documents, that Congress has a right to say what's constitutional, the president has a right to say what's constitutional, and that's part of the dynamic that's called checks and balances.

Santorum's appearance on Maddow's show might seem incongruous, given what she described as their disagreement on "almost everything," but the liberal Maddow has previously called Santorum the most "effective" and "natural" communicator in the 2016 GOP field and criticized Fox's choice to freeze Santorum and other candidates out of the debate scheduled for Aug. 6 because of their low standings in national polls.

Santorum told Maddow that while he wasn't happy with Fox's idea for a consolation forum tacked on before the main debate, he'd accept a slot to appear in it, since he'd take any opportunity to get his message out: "I mean, I'm here. Are you kidding me?" He denied that not making the Fox top-10 debate would mean the end of his campaign, since there would be other chances later: "What happens in August stays in August." Dog days indeed.