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Santorum dogged by donor's aspirin-as-birth-control remark

February 16, 2012|By Kim Geiger
(NBC )

Reporting from Washington — A wealthy backer of GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum left his interviewer scratching her head Thursday when he suggested that in the olden days, birth control was less expensive because women just squeezed an aspirin between their knees to prevent them from having sex.

Foster Friess, the retired mutual fund executive from Wyoming who has been basking in the spotlight recently thanks to his six-figure donations to a ‘super PAC’ backing Santorum, made the remark in an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

“This contraception thing, my gosh, it’s so inexpensive,” Friess said. “You know, back in my days, they’d use Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”

Mitchell didn’t know what to make of the comment. “Excuse me, I’m just trying to catch my breath from that,” she said before changing the subject.

The remark was about the last thing Santorum needed on a day that featured a renewed discussion of a 2006 interview in which he said he believed birth control was “harmful to women” and “harmful to our society” because it encouraged sex outside of marriage.

Friess is one of Santorum’s most generous backers. The $330,000 he gave last year to a Santorum super PAC accounted for half of the super PAC’s total proceeds. Friess has said he contributed at least $250,000 more in the last month.

Friess prefaced his remark Thursday by suggesting that the country was too focused on sex.

“I get such a chuckle when these things come up,” he said. “Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed. We have jihadist camps being set up in Latin America, which Rick has been warning about, and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex. I think it says something about our culture."

Oddly enough, Santorum is the candidate who has been so vocal about the topic, it earned him a special distinction known euphemistically as his “Google problem.”

kim.geiger@latimes.com Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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