Former senator Rick Santorum on Monday night said that he “misspoke" when he uttered racist comments at a recent conference for conservative youth. “Just — just to be clear, what I was not saying is that Native American culture — I misspoke. I was saying — what I was talking about is, as you can see from the run-up, I was talking about the founding of our country,” said Santorum during an appearance on Chris Cuomo’s prime-time show on CNN.

The “misspeaking” occurred on April 23, when Santorum addressed the Standing Up For Faith & Freedom Conference of the Young America’s Foundation. “We came here and created a blank slate. We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” the former Pennsylvania senator said. Once video of the session made the rounds, obvious and righteous objections piled up, noting that the contributions of Native Americans are everywhere in contemporary American culture.

The tête-à-tête between Santorum and Cuomo was noteworthy because Santorum is an official, paid political analyst for the network. Even though his thoughts on Native American culture took place off the network’s air, they still reflect on his TV employer. When news of the comments first surfaced, however, CNN did not issue a statement, though Santorum, through a PR agent, said, “I had no intention of minimizing or in any way devaluing Native American culture.”

A week later, Santorum still couldn’t muster an apology. “I was not trying to dismiss Native Americans. In fact, I mentioned that because, yes, they were here, and they did have an impact, in fact, in this country. You’re right,” Santorum told Cuomo. “They have a huge impact, particularly in the West, and many other areas of the country, where they have a huge impact on American culture. I was talking about, and I misspoke in this respect, I was talking about the founding, and the principles embodied in the founding.” Santorum denied ever attempting to dismiss atrocities against Native Americans. “Far from it!” he said. “The way we treated Native Americans was horrific. It goes against every bone and everything I’ve ever fought for, as a leader, in the Congress.”

The two-time Republican presidential candidate’s effort to glorify the founding on one hand and denounce abuses of Native Americans on the other hand runs into an historical roadblock or two. Professor Michael Leroy Oberg recently wrote in The Post, “The same Declaration of Independence that affirmed that ‘all men are created equal’ and ‘endowed by their Creator’ with unalienable rights to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ also condemned the king for inciting slave rebellions and stirring up ‘the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.’ ”

Cuomo properly placed Santorum’s remarks in context, noting that they fit into a pattern in which Republicans have placed Native Americans, gay Americans and Black Americans into a group of “others.” Santorum: “I agree with you, there are people, who look at people as ‘other,’ look at people as ‘less than.’ ”

Cuomo quipped, “Yes, your party is led by one of them.” The debate went on and on, as Cuomo brought in another CNN commentator, Republican former congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, to discuss the direction of the Republican Party as it relates to race and inclusion. After Dent denounced the politics of nativism and nihilism, Santorum said, “Agree.”

The Santorum defense filled the handoff discussion between Cuomo and CNN host Don Lemon, who expressed incredulity that Santorum had not expressed regret and admitted his ignorance. “Did he think, did he actually think it was the good idea for him to come on television and try to whitewash the whitewash that he whitewashed?” said Lemon. “I mean, it was — it was horrible. It was horrible and insulting and I apologize to the viewers who were insulted.”

As we wrote last week, CNN would be a better news organization without Santorum and other contributors who say dumb things to CNN and non-CNN audiences alike. But at least the network has anchors who’ll provide no collegial deference whatsoever to a colleague’s foul rantings.

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