Santorum doesn't recall 'black people' and 'welfare' comment, cites work with Michael Steele

Faced with questions over his statement Monday to an Iowa audience that he doesn’t want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money,” Rick Santorum walked back those comments on Tuesday, at least in a sense.

Santorum was asked about the comments during an appearance on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News. And while he didn’t deny making them, he did say he didn’t recall.

From Mediaite:

“I haven’t heard it; all I can say is that I don’t single out any group of people- that’s one thing I don’t do,” Santorum explained. “I don’t divide people by group and race and class,” he continued. Hannity noted that some media- even Mediaite!- weren’t entirely sure of what he said, perhaps to see if he would clarify, but Santorum responded again, flatly, “I condemn all forms of racism,” and citing work with Michael Steele and J.C. Watts.

It wasn’t immediately clear how his past association with Steele and Watts, respectively the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former member of Congress — both black Republicans — bears on his comments about African-Americans and welfare.

When he was initially asked about the comments, Santorum, who is surging in the polls ahead of tonight’s Iowa caucuses, speculated that he might have been responding to a question about the documentary film “Waiting for Superman,” which focuses on African-American children seeking entrance into charter schools.

Prior to the “other people’s money” statement, Santorum was criticizing President Barack Obama for, in his words, wanting more Americans to be on public assistance so they would be dependent on government.

WATCH: Rev. Al Sharpton discusses Santorum’s “make black people’s lives better” with welfare statement

[MSNBCMSN video=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640″ w=”592″ h=”346″ launch_id=”45850473^0^98674″ id=”msnbc6e8d04″]

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy