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Rick Santorum: Newt Gingrich's Past Infidelity 'Not An Issue' With Respect To Positions He Takes

Rick Santorum Newt Gingrich

First Posted: 03/11/11 11:06 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:40 PM ET

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum addressed the admitted infidelity of potential presidential rival former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in an interview with the National Review published online on Friday.

Santorum suggested that while he believes Gingrich will have to "account for [his] past decisions," the indiscretions are "not an issue" with regard to where he stands on matters of policy.

"There is a difference between legitimate issues of character -- someone's behavior -- and the issue of whether someone who has done something wrong in their life, now because of those mistakes, can't talk about what is the right thing to do," he explained in the interview. According to the potential White House contender, it's not "hypocritical" for politicians who have had messy experiences in their personal lives to communicate values-based messages.

After noting that everyone makes mistakes, Santorum offered an anecdote from his own life to convey his point. "I smoked pot when I was in college," he reasoned. "Does that mean that I can't talk about drug use? Does that mean that I can't talk about how that's a bad thing? Of course not."

He added that because he knew his behavior was wrong at the time and still looks back on it through the same lens, he doesn't believe it should be considered hypocritical. According to Santorum, one can learn from such experiences. "...just because I failed, that does not mean that I shouldn't be able to talk about it," he said.

The twice-divorced Gingrich, who is currently married to his third wife Callista, spoke out about his personal life in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody earlier this week. The former House Speaker who resigned in disgrace more than a decade ago said that right now he is in "a great marriage" and that over time he's "learned an immense amount."

Here's an excerpt of what Gingrich had to say about his past during the exchange:

There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate. And what I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn't trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them. I found that I felt compelled to seek God's forgiveness. Not God's understanding, but God's forgiveness. I do believe in a forgiving God. And I think most people, deep down in their hearts hope there's a forgiving God.

Last week, Gingrich filed paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service to launch "Newt Explore 2012." While he has yet to submit records to the Federal Election Commission, the formation of the political organization came as only one of numerous recent signs that the big name Republican is testing the waters for a possible presidential campaign in 2012.

Here's a clip of what Gingrich had to say about his past earlier this week:

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Filed by Elyse Siegel  |