Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says that if he’s president, he won’t make black people’s lives better…with welfare.

The conservative former Pennsylvania Senator was stumping for vote in Iowa on the eve of that state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses Monday, when he made the remark to supporters.

TheGrio: Rick Santorum uses race to slam ‘divider-in-chief’ Barack Obama

According to Raw Story:

After suggesting that an expansion of Medicare is really just a plot to make voters more “dependent” on Washington, Santorum added: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money.”

“I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families,” he added. “The best way to do that is to get the manufacturing sector of the economy rolling.”

The quote was captured by CBS News cameras. Santorum accused President Barack Obama of wanting more people to be on welfare, so they would be more dependent on the government. It wasn’t clear why he singled out black Americans, as there was only one African-American in the room as he spoke. And Iowa’s black population is about 2.9 percent, according to the U.S. Census.

Santorum also overlooked the fact that the majority of welfare recipients are not black, and the majority of black people’s lives are not “made better” via welfare.

African-Americans do suffer higher than average rates of poverty and unemployment, however, though they continue to collect less than a quarter of total “welfare” benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called “food stamps,”) and housing assistance. Whites receive 34 percent of those benefits, African-Americans 22 percent, and Hispanics 17 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, a 2009 study found that 1 in 8 Americans, and 1 in 4 children — of all races — received food assistance, in the wake of the 2007 recession. And the study found that 28 percent of blacks, 15 percent of Hispanics, and 8 percent of whites, received food assistance that year.

This isn’t the first time Santorum has brought up race during the campaign. This week, he accused Obama of dividing the country by race, and suggested it was outrageous for a black man, like Obama, to not be pro-life.

Asked about the comment on Monday, Santorum said he hadn’t seen the context of the quote, but noted that he had been talking about the movie, ”’Waiting for Superman,’ which was about black children.”

“So I don’t know of it was a response because I was talking after talking about that,” Santorum said, according to NBC News’ Andrew Rafferty.

“Let me just say I want to make everyone’s lives better,” Santorum said. “Again I dont know what the context was but what I’ve said and what I always believe is that everybody in America should not be dependent on these programs.”

Santorum is seeing his poll numbers surge ahead of the caucuses, due in large part to support from evangelical voters.

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