CNN's Jake Tapper schools Rick Santorum after he shamed media for 'overreacting' when Trump calls himself 'nationalist'
Rick Santorum and CNN's Jake Tapper (Photo: Screen capture)

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) claimed President Donald Trump was a "genius" to call himself a nationalist during a Texas rally and that it was only to toy with the media. CNN's Jake Tapper wasn't so keen on the bizarre excuse.


"And he says he's never heard the term 'white nationalist' before, which is hard to believe because it has been at the center of such discussion."

"If he is baiting the left and even the media into a fight, his definition of nationalism is one that is easy to defend," Tapper said. "'I support -- protecting American workers and I support the U.S. Not having to pay for everybody else's defense.' But the word itself has a troubled history."

Santorum called it part of "the brilliance of Donald Trump."

"He goes out and he throws a controversial subject out there," the former Senator said. "The media head explodes and attack him, and say, he's a racist, and he's all these things, which, of course, then he just says, 'Here's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about trade. I'm talking about things that the vast majority of Americans sort of think he's doing a pretty good job with.' And so he has done it again. He has got everybody out there saying, 'Oh, we're really talking about white nationalists.' And this is a code word and a dog whistle, and he seems reasonable in what he's saying, and here's the media again picking on Donald Trump, trying to make a story where there isn't a story and the president walks away and sort of takes another victory lap around the media that overreacts."

Tapper paused, noting they don't "overreact on his show," which Santorum said he didn't mean Tapper so much as the media in general.

"I haven't called him a racist, but certainly it is significant, a moment of political significant canals for the president of the United States to call himself a nationalist," Tapper explained.

Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen said that it's obvious Trump lacks the education on so many issues, including what "nationalists" and "globalists" actually are.

"So, I think, 'Do I give him the benefit of the doubt?'" Rosen wondered. "Does he really not know the history of the word and how it's been used from Hitler to Europe today? I mean, that's really where people go. And I find it sad that instead of just saying, wow, I would never want people to feel that way. If people misunderstood that word, what I meant was, I care about our economy and I'm going to work on trade to help the American people. But he doesn't do that. He doesn't actually ever express concern for people's misunderstanding."

In that regard, she said that she agrees somewhat with Santorum because Trump wants to whip people up.

The most interesting moment, however, came when Tapper asked Santorum if he would call himself a nationalist. Santorum refused.

Watch the video below: