By Judy Kurtz - 03/28/12 11:21 PM EDT
While Rick Santorum has defended his use of profanity during a recent confrontation with a reporter, senators say they like to keep it clean in public.
A New York Times journalist, Jeff
When pressed about the comment on Sunday, the former Pennsylvania senator replied, “Quit distorting my words. It’s bulls--t.”
“It’s never appropriate for third-
graders or lawmakers to curse in public, but sometimes we make mistakes,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday.
Before predicting that Romney will be the Republican nominee, Graham admitted that he’s slipped up before and used coarse language in front of others: “Sometimes, in the heat of the campaign, when you think somebody’s basically cheap-shotting you, you know, things can come out of your mouth that probably would not be a good role model.”
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) seemed surprised by the news of Santorum’s reference to animal excrement: “That’s the last person I would expect that from.”
Inhofe added, “I just don’t use profanity, never have. I haven’t for 30 years.”
When we inquired about what happened three decades ago, Inhofe replied, “It has to do with Jesus.” He then pointed to a youthful-looking congressional aide who was sitting nearby and asked, “Do you know Jesus?” The aide nodded as the lawmaker darted off into his party’s policy lunch.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) didn’t mention any religious experiences in his decision to avoid using profanity, but did say, “I don’t like to curse ever, in my private life or in my public life.” Cardin then revealed, “My family thinks I’m a little strange about that.”
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) also says he considers swearing a no-no, saying, “I think the best approach to anything is to try to be polite and civil … I think it’s not just for interactions with reporters and personalities, this is a standard of conduct one should try to follow in dealing with everybody.”
An apology doesn’t seem in the works from the Santorum camp. In a Monday interview on “Fox and Friends,” Santorum said, “If you haven’t cursed out a New York Times reporter during the course of a campaign, you’re not really a real Republican.”
But Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) tells us she believes Santorum might have made a slight slip-up: “I think that lawmakers are human and occasionally they say things they regret later. I suspect this is an example of that.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who endorsed Romney earlier this week, offered another possible explanation: “Everybody needs a mulligan once in a while. Maybe he was having a bad day.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) contended on Fox News Channel a few weeks ago that he doesn’t use salty language “very often,” taking issue with how his vocabulary was portrayed in HBO’s movie “Game Change.”
The Arizona Republican said that when a swearword does sneak into a politician’s language, “I believe the best thing to do — in most cases it’s just ‘It is what it is’ … and let the American people draw their own conclusions.”