CNN's Santorum rips Dems for rejecting Fox as debate host: 'What are they afraid of?'

CNN political commentator Rick Santorum blasted the Democratic National Committee (DNC) late Wednesday, asking why it made sense to reject Fox News as a debate host while praising "responsible journalists" at the rival network including Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.

"It sounds like the kind of thing that pleases, you know, the liberal part, or the left, you know, far-left part of the Democratic Party, and sort of makes them feel good," Santorum told CNN host Anderson Cooper. "But just in terms of, you know, trying to sway voters who could be reached, it seems shortsighted, no?”

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"There’s legit journalists over there," he continued. "There’s no question that there is an opinion side to Fox and you’re right, they very much cheer for Trump and put a spin out there, but there’s also a journalist side."

"And those are the folks that — in my presidential debates, those were the people who asked the questions, and let me assure you they were really tough questions. They were as tough as the ones I got on CNN," he added.

"So I just say to the Democratic Party, 'what are you afraid of?'" Santorum, a former GOP senator and presidential candidate, later asked. "You have a much bigger audience [on Fox News], you have an opportunity to make your case, why not make the case?"

The segment began with Cooper referencing a tweet from President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE, who threatened to boycott any debates hosted by "the fake news networks" in the general election.

"Democrats just blocked @FoxNews from holding a debate. Good, then I think I’ll do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates," Trump wrote to his nearly 60 million followers.

"There are plenty of people who watch Fox News, and there are responsible journalists who could ask questions," Cooper noted during the interview with former longtime Fox News pundit Kirsten Powers and Santorum.

"I mean, Chris Wallace is a tough interview, Bret Baier, I mean why — does this make sense to you that the DNC would do this?" asked Cooper of Powers, who is also a CNN contributor.

“I was trying to even remember the last time Fox News hosted a Democratic debate,” she said. “I really can’t even remember.”

During the last presidential election cycle, Fox News did host a town hall event in March 2016 for Democratic candidates Bernie SandersBernie SandersChamber of Commerce argues against Democratic proposals for financial transaction taxes Top Sanders adviser: 'He is a little bit angry' Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump's economic approval takes hit in battleground states: poll This is how Democrats will ensure Trump's re-election The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE, who were locked in a tight race at the time.

"This has been a long-running problem that Fox has had with the Democratic Party, that they have viewed them as not a legitimate news organization and they haven't wanted to do debates with them," Powers said. "I think everything that Democrats used to say about Fox, which I don't actually I agree with — I think it was conservative, you know, a conservative-leaning network, certainly. But not the propaganda that Democrats always said that it was."

The DNC announced on Wednesday afternoon that Fox News would not be permitted to host any of its 12 scheduled primary debates after The New Yorker on Tuesday reported on the network's close ties to Trump.

“Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates. Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates,” DNC Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE said in the statement.

The DNC's decision was applauded by many on the left on social media.

In response, Fox News Senior Vice President and Managing Editor Bill Sammon lauded the network's news division, including hosts Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, while adding having Democratic candidates appear on the network would help candidates reach key voters during the 2019-2020 election cycle.

“They’re the best debate team in the business and they offer candidates an important opportunity to make their case to the largest TV news audience in America, which includes many persuadable voters,” Sammon said in statement.

Several declared and presumptive Democratic presidential candidates have recently appeared on Fox News, including Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisChamber of Commerce argues against Democratic proposals for financial transaction taxes Warren proposes new restrictions, taxes on lobbying Five top 2020 Democrats haven't committed to MSNBC climate forum MORE (Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharFive top 2020 Democrats haven't committed to MSNBC climate forum Abrams helps launch initiative to train women activists, organizers The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE (Minn), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAt debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions Klobuchar, Buttigieg find themselves accidentally flying to debate together MORE (N.Y.) and Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard warns Trump: Acting like 'Saudi Arabia's b---- is not "America First"' This is how Democrats will ensure Trump's re-election Democrats debate in Houston: Who came out on top? MORE (Hawaii). Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Perez also sat down for interviews on the network last month.