Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has defended his criticism of a 2008 comment by Republican potential nominee Rick Santorum, saying that what a presidential candidate says is fair game, no matter the context. Santorum's comments included the idea that Satan's influence is growing in the U.S.
- (Photo: Reuters/Chris Usher/CBS News/Handout)
"Listen, I think anything you say as a presidential candidate is relevant. It is by definition relevant. You're asking to be president of the United States," Christie, an avid supporter of GOP candidate Mitt Romney, told ABC's "Good Morning America."
Santorum, in his talk with a religious group of students at Ave Maria University in Florida, warned against the "spiritual war" Christians must fight.
"This is not a political war at all," Santorum told the youths. "This is a spiritual war. And the father of lies has his sights on what you would think the father of lies, Satan, would have his sights on - a good decent, powerful, influential country: the United States of America."
Christie's comments came in response to Rick Santorum, who said he would "defend everything" he said, but that whether Satan was attacking America was "not relevant" to voters when compared to the economic problems of today.
Christie criticized Santorum for his response to reporters about the speech. "I don't think [Santorum's] right about that. I think it is relevant what he says. I think people want to make an evaluation, a complete evaluation of anyone who asks to sit in the Oval Office," said the N.J. governor.
Santorum did respond to reporters at a rally Tuesday, however, refusing to compromise his beliefs.
Santorum has rebuked any suggestion that "if you're a person of faith, that's a disquilifier for a president." He added that if candidates were ineligible based on having religious beliefs, there would be "a very small pool of candidates who can run for president."
The Drudge Report, which brought up Santorum's 2008 speech, pasted only the religious-themed lines of the talk on their website. Despite the incomplete portrayal of Santorum's talk, the GOP candidate doesn't seem to take the attack too seriously.
"If they want to dig up old speeches of me talking to religious groups, they can go ahead and do so, but I'm going to stay on message and I'm going to talk about thing that Americans want to talk about," said the emboldened candidate.
"Creating jobs, making our country more secure, and yeah, taking on the forces around this world who want to do harm to America, and you bet I will take them on," Santorum told reporters.