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Santorum Hits Back at Report Claiming He Suggested Palin Skipped CPAC for Financial Reasons

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In this Jan. 25, 2011, file photo, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP)

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, on Wednesday dismissed as "garbage" a newspaper report that claimed he suggested potential opponent Sarah Palin refused an invitation to a conservative conference because she wasn't getting paid for the appearance.

The conservative Republican also raised the ire of observers who wondered if he is sexist for suggesting that Palin may want to focus on motherhood over her career. 

"All I said was -- she is VERY busy. PERIOD," Santorum tweeted after the Politico report quoted his appearance on a radio show. "Reporter trying to create something out of nothing."

Santorum went "On The Record" with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren Wednesday and again said he "just assumed that she was busy."

"If CPAC were in Anchorage, I wouldn't go, I have responsibilities, too," he said.

But listeners can be the judge as Santorum's Tuesday comments were made during a live online radio interview with conservative commentator S.E. Cupp.

"I have a feeling she has some demands on her time. And a lot of them have financial benefits attached to them. So I'm sure that she's doing what's best for her and her family," Santorum said about Palin's notable absence from CPAC, the annual conference beginning Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Asked whether he would have turned down the invitation, Santorum said "no," and explained why.

"I don't live in Alaska. And I'm not the mother to all these kids," Santorum, who is the father of seven. said. Palin has five children. "And I don't have other responsibilities, like she has, other opportunities that she has. Other business opportunities that may be in conflict with what she's been asked to do."

When asked about the Santorum's remarks on "Hannity" Wednesday night, Palin said the senator seemed "uniformed as to why I can't make it to another political speech."

"Just because I'm a mom that does not mean that I didn't want to be there," Palin told Hannity, responding to Santorum's accusation that she's skipping CPAC to earn money and support her kids. "I'm the proud mother of five. My kids don't hold me back from attending a conference."

She added, “I will not call him the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal. I'll let his wife call him that instead."

Both Palin and Santorum are contributors to Fox News.

Conservative radio host Tammy Bruce, who is close to Palin's team, excoriated Santorum for his comments.

"Make note: The 'All she wants is money' & attacks on her motherhood are the new line against Palin," she tweeted. "It's patronizing crap, nothing less."

Palin is known to get six figures for her speaking engagements, which has netted her millions of dollars since she resigned as governor of Alaska. Palin has not attended the last three CPAC meetings.

Santorum drew fire last month for questioning why President Obama, the nation's first black president, is denying civil rights to fetuses by supporting abortion rights. He told the Chrisitan Broadcasting Network that for decades, slavery allowed blacks to be treated like property. He said fetuses are denied the right to life because they are considered property.