Santorum donor Friess apologizes for 'aspirin joke'

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Friess, referencing an old joke about closed knees when discussing the controversy over mandatory access to contraception, told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Thursday, "back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. ... The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn't that costly."

Friess, the major donor supporting the pro-Santorum Red White and Blue Fund super-PAC, quickly became a talking point in both the ongoing contraception debate and in criticism of Santorum. 

Friess sought to clarify the statement in a tweet and a blog post on Friday.

"I can understand how I confused people with the way I worded the joke and their taking offense is very understandable. To all those who took my joke as [a] 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," he wrote. "To those who applauded my comments and remembered the joke, thanks for your encouragement. To those who thought I was callously encouraging that as a prescription for today, I kindly ask your forgiveness."

He also turned his statement into a talking point for Santorum, who had distanced himself from what he called "a stupid joke." 

"[Santorum] 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," Friess wrote in his post.

Santorum press secretary Alice Stewart clarified for CNN on Friday morning that as a Catholic, Santorum "personally is opposed to [contraception], but he does not let government get in the way of women having access to that."

According to The Associated Press, Santorum said the joke was "in bad taste."

— This post was updated at 9:36 a.m.

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