(CNN) - They may be future 2012 rivals, but former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is sticking up for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, sort of.
In an interview with National Review Online, Santorum said a candidate's personal history should not be the sole focus of a presidential campaign.
"He, like we all do, will have to account for our past decisions. People will take (his past) as a legitimate issue to consider, as to how it would affect his ability to do his job," Santorum said. "I am not saying that is not a legitimate question, but it's not an issue with respect to the positions he takes."
Gingrich, who has been married three times and admitted to past infidelities, has received criticism because of the discrepancy between his past and his socially conservative stances. In a recent interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Gingrich told David Brody he was "partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate."
"What I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn't trapped in situation ethics. I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them. I found that I felt compelled to seek God's forgiveness, not God's understanding, but God's forgiveness," he said.
Santorum said politicians who have made personal mistakes can still make values-based arguments.
"I don't think that's hypocritical," Santorum said. "For example, I smoked pot when I was in college. Does that mean that I can't talk about drug use? Does that mean that I can't talk about how that's a bad thing? Of course not."
The two potential presidential candidates have traveled extensively to early primary and caucus states and are both mulling bids, but have yet to make formal announcements.