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Santorum backtracks on college criticism

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:34 AM EST, Sun March 4, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Santorum had called President Obama a snob for advocating higher education
  • Santorum says he agrees with Obama's call for some kind of higher education
  • To Santorum, the issue is providing options rather than pushing a four-year degree

Washington (CNN) -- Rick Santorum backtracked Sunday on his criticism of President Barack Obama's call for higher education, saying he agreed with providing options for high school graduates to continue in some form of additional schooling or training.

Santorum recently accused Obama of snobbery for advocating that all students attend college, saying not everyone would benefit from four years at what he called liberal-leaning university campuses.

However, when confronted by "Fox News Sunday" with Obama's past statements calling for different kinds of higher education options -- including community college or technical training programs -- Santorum said that made sense.

His motivation in criticizing Obama was to "focus not just on four-year college degrees," Santorum said. Asked why he thought Obama was only pushing a four-year program, Santorum said "maybe I was reading some things" that gave that impression.

"If it was an error, then I agree with the president" that offering students options is the right way to go, he said.

On Friday, Santorum called his accusation that Obama was a snob a "little over the top."

"It was a strong term, probably not the smartest thing but you know what I don't give prepared talking points speeches written by other people," Santorum said in an on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." "I got a little passionate there and I used a harsher word than I normally would but the point was government shouldn't be dictating to people what they do."

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