Philadelphia Daily News | 01/31/2006 | Rizzo's not joining Rick's ethnic battle: "Posted on Tue, Jan. 31, 2006
Rizzo's not joining Rick's ethnic battleRefuses to send letter blasting Sen. ReidBy CATHERINE LUCEYluceyc@phillynews.com 215-854-4172U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's efforts to demonize Sen. Harry Reid for making what his camp calls "anti-Italian-American" statements hit a bit of a snag in Philly last week when Santorum came up against another Italian-American Republican.
None other than City Councilman Frank Rizzo Jr.
The controversy began two weeks ago when Reid, D-Nev., Senate minority leader, interviewed on "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," said:
"Having Senator Santorum talk about reform is like having John Gotti talk about doing something about organized crime," Redi said.
Santorum quickly lashed out, accusing Reid of ethnic slurs and demanding an apology.
He even got his dad to write a letter to supporters condemning the remark.
And as they rallied support last week, Santorum's camp reached out to Rizzo.
The campaign gave him a pre-written statement filled with lines like:
"It is inexcusable to compare a prominent Italian-American like Senator Santorum to a criminal, murderous Mafioso."
They asked Rizzo to send it out in his name.
But Rizzo wouldn't sign off on it. He said that Reid had not actually compared Santorum to the late Gotti but that he had made a poor analogy.
"They were trying to suggest that Santorum was being compared with John Gotti. That's not what's said here," Rizzo said.
"I think he stepped over the line, but not that far."
So Rizzo released his own, milder statement. "Senator Reid suffered a failure of judgment in choosing an Italian-American crime figure for an analogy applied to an Italian-American political figure," it said.
He also asked Reid to retract the statement and apologize.
So far, Reid has not apologized.
The Democratic Sentatorial Campaign Committee, which had a statement on its Web site calling Santorum "the Godfather," has removed it.
Reid's spokeswoman, Rebecca Kirszner, said that Reid's comments were about K Street - which refers the culture of lobbying in Washington, D.C. - not to Santorum's background.
"Rick Santorum's association with the K Street Project has nothing to do with his ethnicity and everything to do with the culture of corruption that Republicans have brought to Washington," she said."