ThinkProgress filed this report from Des Moines, Iowa.
Unabashed social conservative former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) is quick to condemn homosexuality or abortion, but asked by ThinkProgress at Monday’s Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition presidential forum if Newt Gingrich had credibility to lead on “social” issues given his extramarital affairs and multiple marriages, Santorum refused to pass judgment on the former Speaker. “You have to talk to the Speaker about his issues,” he said, in an effort to dismiss the question:
VOLSKY: Do you think it’s a problem for somebody to be running for President and talking about family issues but having that kind of background?
SANTORUM: Look, I think people should be able to articulate the positions they feel are best for society and with the understanding that we all fall short of what we think is the best sometimes, so. I don’t want people who because they’ve felt they had a fault in their life feel you can’t stand up and say, this is what’s optimal, this is what’s best.
VOLSKY: But do you really feel he has credibility on those issues?
SANTORUM: I think that’s for people of Iowa and other places to decide, but I think it’s important that we all understand that just because you fall short of the mark doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stand and say this is what’s best. And even though I may not have lived up to it, this is what’s best, this is what’s good for society and I think that’s the case on a lot of fronts.
Santorum is far less generous to those with whom he disagrees, including President Bill Clinton. Asked whether he thought Clinton was morally fit to stay in office following his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Santorum — who voted to convict Clinton — told the Dallas Morning News in February of 1998, “I would say no, he’s not.”
“I think it’s a sign of decadence and decay. Which is a threat to the fabric of this country,” Santorum was quoted as saying in the Washington Post in January 1998.
ThinkProgress intern Kevin Donohoe contributed research to this post.