Santorum on Marianne Gingrich accusations: These are issues of character

posted at 7:10 pm on January 20, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Rick Santorum walked a fine line in his response to questions about Marianne Gingrich’s accusations against her ex-husband and Santorum’s GOP rival, Newt.

“Personal matters are personal matters, but they are matters that are — particularly when you are in public life as he was at the time and the people involved were also in a sense in public life — those issues are issues that people will look at,” Santorum responded.

“I believe in forgiveness, I’m called to believe in forgiveness,” he continued. “I do believe having some accountability to a higher calling other than self is a very, very important aspect and perspective that is important for leaders.

“To make the final comment, these are issues of character and these are issues that people will consider based upon the time, when, where, how all those thing will factor in and I’ll let people make that decision, I’m certainly not going to make it for them,” he said to a crowd of about 150 people.

That’s about as balanced an opinion as another candidate could give on the subject. Santorum neither denies the relevance of Gingrich’s past life nor does he suggest Gingrich’s past is absolutely predictive. Instead, he acknowledges that the mistakes Gingrich has made in the past are reflective of his past character while simultaneously acknowledging that true change in a person is possible.

Given Santorum’s scrupulous refusal to be sidetracked by Newt Gingrich’s distracting and undisciplined attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, his willingness to comment at all on the Marianne Gingrich episode does stand out, though. Perhaps his comments are yet another part of the differentiation process he says he began last night. Santorum is different than rival Mitt Romney in the consistency of his political past and different than rival Newt Gingrich in the consistency of his personal past. Surely that consistency should count for something.


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