Rick Santorum on ‘Open Marriage’ Allegations Against Newt Gingrich: ‘These are Issues of Character’

Jan 20, 2012 4:20pm

LEXINGTON, S.C. — Addressing a question today about Marianne Gingrich’s allegations that her former husband, Newt, wanted an “open marriage,” Rick Santorum said ”these are issues of character” but declined to push his rival for further explanation.

“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 told a crowd of 150 people.

Santorum made the comments at a townhall-style event at the Hudson Smokehouse here in Lexington. He was posed the question on open marriage by a very colorful senior citizen and veteran, who praised the former senator, saying he has “the fortitude and guts to take on that issue.”

Santorum, who, just Thursday was crowned the winner of the Iowa caucus, said it would’ve helped his campaign to have that news come out earlier, but added that he’s a “giant killer.”

“Maybe the people of South Carolina look at this and say, wait a minute, this guy can win, this guy knocked off the giant and stopped the inevitable Romney. That’s the kind of person we need, someone who’s a giant killer,” Santorum said. “The votes were counted and we won.”

He said Romney’s campaign, not the candidate himself, was being “a little cute” about the “virtual tie” response to the Iowa results. Romney’s campaign put out a statement Thursday morning calling the results a “virtual tie,” a phrase that did not sit well with Santorum’s campaign.

Santorum has also been the subject of negative robo-calls in South Carolina but he pledged not to do the same.

“If I’m going to say something about somebody, I’m not going to hide behind a robo-call.  I’m going to go out there and lay it out,” Santorum said. “I’m not going to go on this stealth campaign where nobody knows what you really say.”

Gingrich has called on Santorum to drop out of race. The two are battling each other for the conservative and evangelical vote. But Santorum today expressed optimism about the primary Saturday.

“He [Gingrich] was spending money here and he said from the very beginning that South Carolina was where he was going to plant his flag and try to do his best, and we said we were going to take it one at a time, and we did,” he said. “And we won Iowa, and we beat Gingrich and Perry in New Hampshire, and I’m sure that’s the reason that Rick got out of the race. And so we feel like we’ve accomplished more than anyone thought we could coming into South Carolina, and we hope to have a respectable showing here and we might surprise a few people tomorrow.”

Santorum’s wife, Karen, also spoke at the townhall-style event, telling attendees that the family prays together every day and that “sacred scripture helps sustain us.”

“If God is calling you to do something he will give you the grace and the strength to do what you need to do,” Karen Santorum said to applause. “I have that confidence going into that he will give us the grace and fortitude to persevere and do whatever it is he is calling us to do.”

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