Newt Gingrich often says he is best equipped among the Republican candidates to debate President Barack Obama. His newest reason: Rick Santorum is too gaffe-prone, he said Tuesday, pointing to the former Pennsylvania senator's recent statement about unemployment.

"Can you imagine a Barack Obama dealing with somebody who says he doesn't care about the unemployment rate?" Gingrich said during a campaign appearance in Ruston, La. "And I know Santorum probably didn't mean to say it. But it's what he said."

While campaigning in Illinois on Monday, Santorum said that "the issue in this race is not the economy" and, later, "I don't care what the unemployment rate is going to be." He later clarified those remarks and said he wished he had a "do-over."

His comments were in reference to his broader platform on small government, but as Gingrich said, seem ready-made for an attack ad soundbite.

"I will use my words carefully here so I don't commit a Santorum," he joked.

Gingrich said that Mitt Romney has made similar mistakes, including a January statement that he likes "being able to fire people."

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