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Santorum curses out NYT reporter

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 26, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Hume Zone" segment, tonight Rick Santorum easily won the Louisiana primary on Saturday, but afterward, he got a little testy with New York Times political reporter Jeff Zeleny.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF ZELENY, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: You said Mitt Romney was the worst Republican in the country. Is that true?

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What speech did you listen to?

ZELENY: Right here. You said he was the worst Republican.

SANTORUM: Stop lying. I said he was the worst Republican to run on the issue of Obama care. I've been staying it in every speech. Quit distorting our words. If I see it, it's bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Come on, man. What are you doing?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: And joining us now from Washington to react, the always dapper Brit Hume. Now, it looked to me - I've know Santorum for a long time and so do you. It looked to me like Santorum has had enough of not only the New York Times guy but I think of the liberal media in general bear baiting him. You know, come on.

Because Santorum is correct. He had contextualized the comment around Romney care in Massachusetts.

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: No. Not exactly, Bill.

O'REILLY: OK, you go.

HUME: What happened is that he was talking in broad terms about Obama care and relationship to Romney care.

And then he uttered a sentence in which he said, without mentioning Obama care or Romney care, that Romney would be the worst candidate of all the Republicans in the country to put up against Barack Obama. And he -- and that sentence, you know, either stood on its own or didn't depending on how you look at it.

So Jeff Zeleny asks him about it, and he short-hands the framing of the Santorum statement in the question by saying worst candidate -- worst Republican in America.

Now, I don't think it's wrong for a reporter to ask a question. And, Santorum, excuse me, could easily have said, "Look, that was in the context of Obama care. You've heard me say it a million times. And that's what I meant." End of story.

And I don't have any reason to think that Jeff Zeleny would have taken him at anything other but at his word. He's a reasonable guy.

Santorum, I think, probably, out of, you know, fatigue, which every candidate suffers, and some exasperation, reacted as he did. And he blurted out, you know -- he said that, you know, he sees this stuff and it's B.S. And that was the thing that's gotten all the attention.

O'REILLY: I think it's more to it than that. So I think that Santorum -- I agree with you that he was probably fatigued. He probably caught him at a bad moment because, you know, he didn't get -- Santorum didn't get a lot of traction on the big win in Louisiana. The press hardly covered it.

HUME: Well, there's a reason for that, too, Bill. He only gained five delegates.

O'REILLY: Right.

HUME: And the race against Romney didn't amount to very much. Despite the fact that it was a sizeable margin for Santorum.

O'REILLY: But you know that's frustrating to Santorum.

HUME: Of course.

O'REILLY: I mean, and so he's frustrating -- in a frustrating state. And he does believe, because he has said it before. He does believe that, in contraception, that in other areas, the press is taking this stuff out of context and portraying him as a zealot. All right?

So here, I think it was like it just mounts, mounts, and mounts. And -- I don't know Zeleny. You know him. You say he's a fair guy.

HUME: Yes.

O'REILLY: Seems fair? OK.

HUME: He's a reasonable guy.

O'REILLY: I will take your word for it?

HUME: And the other thing is the question.

O'REILLY: The question is legitimate, but he did -- he should have framed it differently.

HUME: Well, I know, look, very few reporters' questions -- and I've asked a few myself, one that got publicized, because I asked Clinton a question he didn't like. But most of the time, you ask --

O'REILLY: What was that? Just remind the audience.

HUME: You remember that. It was about Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nominated and I suggested that it had been a zigzag process he got mad and shut down -- you remember that. My feeling about that was I'm sorry he got mad but I was glad I asked the question respectfully.

I think Zeleny asked the question. And I don't think Zeleny had any intention of writing Santorum's remark out of -- out of its broader context, once assured by Santorum that that's what they meant in terms of Obama care vs. Romney care. But that's how it would have come out.

So I don't object to the question. Questions almost never get publicity. And if he didn't react as he did, this thing wouldn't have.

O'REILLY: Santorum doesn't like this guy. All right. Now, where does Santorum go from here? I mean, what's up?

HUME: Well, the next -- the next big event. Well, there are several, but the next big event, big test will probably be Wisconsin, which is going to be winner take all. A certain number of delegates. And this is the kind of state which Romney has been able to eke out wins over Santorum, and it's held Santorum back.

And if Santorum could pull off an upset it might give his campaign some --

O'REILLY: When is that?

HUME: It's a week from tomorrow.

O'REILLY: OK.

HUME: And there's also a primary in Maryland, where Santorum would not be expected to do well that day. One in the District of Columbia, where he's not even on the ballot. So Romney will get another batch of delegates. Probably win the night on delegates.

That's the problem Santorum has, Bill. He may win contests, as he did in Louisiana. But he --

O'REILLY: Gingrich doesn't have any money left. He told Mr. Neil Cavuto today he's staying around. But he's going to have to start paying people, out of his own pocket or stiff them.

HUME: Or just go where he can get on TV and travel around a little bit. Newt Gingrich seems to be at peace with the fact that he's not going to win. He'd like to help deny Romney the necessary votes to get to win on the first ballot. Which I think is a long shot. But he'd like to do that. He is going around going to zoos. He has a bigger platform.

O'REILLY: It costs admission. You have to pay commission to get to the zoo. He doesn't have any money. He and Callista going to fly coach all over the place?

HUME: Well, maybe. But he's got a bigger platform by staying in if he can afford to do it than he would if he dropped out. So he's staying in.

O'REILLY: It costs money to do this. You know that.

HUME: Travel is not that much.

O'REILLY: You know. He travels by private jet, Brit, come on.

All right. Brit Hume, everybody.

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