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By Joy-Ann Reid

Responding to criticism over his statement that he doesn’t “want to make black people’s lives better with other people’s money,” Rick Santorum said that far from holding negative views about African-Americans, he worked closely with black former congressman J.C. Watts and former RNC chairman Michael Steele, and was a champion of black colleges when he was a United States Senator.

RELATED: Are GOP Debates Out Of Control

It was the kind of statement that caused many black Americans to shake their heads. But for Santorum’s supporters, it was a genuine statement by a man who practiced real outreach to African-Americans in his home state.

After a stint in the House from 1991 to 1995, Santorum served in the Senate from 1995 until he was defeated for re-election (by 18 points) by Bob Casey Jr. in 2006. According to Santorum, during his Senate tenure he “used to bring all the historically black colleges into Washington, DC to try to help them, because they get very little federal money through the bureaucracy, and so I help to try to introduce them to people in the Department of Education so they could have more resources.”

For more on Santorum’s record working on black causes (or lack thereof), go to TheGrio.

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