On Monday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose accused GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum of focusing too much on foreign policy and social issues, instead of the economy: "You talk about President Obama being an appeaser. You talk about [Obama] being soft on pornography and those kinds of things, rather than the bread and butter economic issues that you say are essential to who will win."
Earlier in the interview, Rose hinted at the left-leaning talking point that the Republican Party was waging a "war on women." He asked the former Pennsylvania senator, "Do you believe that there are particular issues of concern to women more than other voters?" [audio clips available here; video below the jump]
The CBS anchor's hyping of the pornography issue, which isn't even a major part of Santorum's campaign strategy, came towards the end of the segment. The Republican countered Rose's "particular issues of concern to women" issue by stating, in part, that "women are a diverse group, just like men are a diverse group. I think the idea of trying to buttonhole people into one particular group or, you know, philosophy is- has been tried. It just doesn't work."
The veteran journalist followed up by citing Santorum's website and playing up his "appeaser" accusation against the President and the pornography issue. The former senator answered that these were two issues among many, and went on the attack against his Republican opponent Mitt Romney:
ROSE: ...[W]hen you go to your website, you talk about President Obama being an appeaser. You talk about [Obama] being soft on pornography and those kinds of things, rather than the bread and butter economic issues that you say are essential to who will win- not only the nomination, but also the general election.
SANTORUM: Well, Charlie, I mean, on our website, we have a whole lot of issues. I mean, that's important for people to know what your position is on a whole variety of issues. People write in, they ask and reporters ask- and, you know, we're very transparent about what we believe. There isn't just one issue. I mean, Mitt Romney thinks that this election is going to be about, you know, who can best manage the nanny state of Washington. No, this election is about freedom. This election is about a fundamental change in Washington, D.C. This is about, you know, reducing and- the size of government, getting government out of people's lives, particularly when it comes to their health and energy and financial services and banking. And, you know, we've got- we have a government that's trying to take over different sectors of the economy, and Mitt Romney joined Barack Obama in a lot of those takeovers.
On Friday, CNN's Fredrick Whitfield did something similar on the Newsroom program. Whitfield asked Republican strategist Ana Navarro, "Should porn, pornography, even be an issue that Santorum or any other candidate at this point should be talking about?"
The anchor then cited a former colleague of Santorum with regard to the fight over the GOP presidential race: "At the same time, Senator McCain said recently, this is the dirtiest campaign that he's ever seen."
Rose has a record of playing up side issues in the Republican nomination fight. On January 17, 2012, the CBS anchor hinted Newt Gingrich should apologize for a supposedly racially-tinged comment. Two days later, he touted a headline from the New York Times that claimed that "[Mitt] Romney's riches are being seen as new hurdle." During a previous interview with Rose on February 17, Santorum pushed back against the journalist's interrogating about supporter Foster Friess's "bad off-color joke" about contraception.
Earlier in March, the CBS anchor wondered if Republicans had "gone far enough in condemning" Rush Limbaugh's controversial attack on pro-ObamaCare contraception mandate activist Sandra Fluke.
The full transcript of Charlie Rose's interview of Rick Santorum, which aired 12 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Monday's CBS This Morning, is available at MRC.org.