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Santorum on Newt's lobbying defense: 'It's different kinds of apples'

 

So was Newt Gingrich a lobbyist for Freddie Mac or just an advisor who spoke on their behalf? Rick Santorum says it's an apples-to-apples comparison.

"It is a difference, it's not apples and oranges," he said of Gingrich's defense that he was an advisor and "historian" rather than a fomal lobbyist for the group. "It's different kinds of apples. That's I think what the American public may see. And certainly I can assure that's what Barack Obama is going to see if he's the nominee of the party."

The former Pennsylvania senator was asked by reporters about Gingrich's work for the group after he touted his own signature of a 2006 letter pointing out the "risk" caused by housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Asked if he agreed with Gov. Mitt Romney's challenge that Gingrich should return the money he made for providing strategic advice to the company, Santorum dismissed the call as "gotcha politics."

"Newt was a private businessman who went out and engaged in a contract, and I'm sure he earned that money," Santorum said. "And if he earned the money I don't see any reason he should give it back. That's just gotcha politics. I'm not going to play that game."

But while Santorum sided with Gingrich on the repayment spat, he dinged the former Speaker for working for a government-affiliated housing giant that didn't align with the "conservative values"

"Look, I think the fact that he went out and lobbied for an organization that in my opinion was not consistent with the conservative values that we have ... I just wouldn't do it," he said.

Santorum, who is hoping that an intensive retail-heavy schedule will foster a last minute bounce in Iowa polls, weighed in on today's media firestorm over Mitt Romney's offer of a $10,000 bet over a health care claim by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

"I was a little taken aback by it. That would not be a number that I would throw out," he said, adding that Perry was correct in pointing out changes between the hardback and paperback publications of Romney's book. "As a father of seven children, nickels and dimes are easier to come by than $10,000," he joked.