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Karen Santorum: Rick Santorum Would 'Do Nothing' About Birth Control If Elected

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WASHINGTON -- Karen Santorum said Monday that her husband, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, would "do nothing" on the issue of birth control if he were elected president, telling CNN's Piers Morgan, "Women have nothing to fear when it comes to contraceptives."

In a rare one-on-one interview, Santorum defended her husband against criticism from both Democrats and leading Republicans that his ultra-conservative positions on women's issues -- he opposes legalized abortion and is morally opposed to contraception -- put him out of step with women voters.

The Santorums are both devout Catholics, but Karen said that when it comes to contraception, her husband would not bring his personal religious beliefs into the White House "Not in that area -- no, absolutely not," she said. "I think women have nothing to fear when it comes to contraceptives. He will do nothing on that issue. I think the issue was when I said about the religious freedom issue, and not allowing the government to be intrusive in our lives and force us to do something against our conscience," she said.

Mrs. Santorum was referring to failed legislation her husband supported, known as the Blunt Amendment, which would have have made it legal for religious institutions, including Catholic schools and hospitals, to deny insurance coverage to their employees for birth control on moral grounds. The bill failed in the Senate.

Karen Santorum attempted to frame her husband's beliefs about contraception as purely personal, and she blamed the media -- rather than Rick Santorum's outspoken support of the Blunt amendment -- for giving the appearance that those views extend beyond his personal morality to his political platform.

"The unfortunate thing is when Rick was asked the question, he said, 'These are my personal beliefs,' and the press kept asking him the issue about it again and again," she said. "It's not an issue about contraception," she said of the amendment. "It's an issue about personal freedoms."

Karen Santorum, a lawyer and a neonatal nurse, told Morgan her husband completely supports women, and blamed the media for raising the question of whether he is "anti-women."

He "has been 100 percent supportive of me and my dreams and my career," said the stay-at-home mom. "It was my decision to stay home and be a mom at home, and some day when I go back to work, Rick will be 100 percent behind me, so it makes me sad that the media tries to do that to him. They try to make it look like he is something he's not."

There were lighter moments in the interview. Morgan showed shirtless photos of Rick Santorum taken last week in Puerto Rico. "Oh, you don't have to show it," Karen joked of the photo, which shows Santorum slightly heavier than he was this time a year ago. "I'm working on it, Piers," she joked. "I said [to my husband], 'You need to start taking more steps and fewer elevators.'"

The eight-minute interview was noticeably free of the tough personal questions Morgan is best known for, instead staying focused on the campaign. It aired on the eve of the Illinois Republican primary, following a week marked by organizational problems and media gaffes for Rick Santorum, who trailed front-runner Mitt Romney by approximately 8.5 percentage points in polls of likely Illinois Republican primary voters Monday.

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