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After Unemployment Flub, Santorum Admits He Sometimes Wishes for ‘Do-Over’

AFP/Getty Images(EAST PEORIA, Ill.) -- Hours after he said he doesn’t “care what the unemployment rate’s going to be,” Rick Santorum admitted to an Illinois crowd that he sometimes wishes he had the opportunity for a “do-over.”

“Issues are important in a campaign.  But over the next four years, who knows what issues the next president’s going to have to confront.  And you’re going to be voting for a person.  You’re going to be voting whether that person has the character, the integrity, the honesty, and the courage to be able to take on the challenges that this country faces.  And that’s what I’ve tried to do in this campaign,” Santorum said Monday night during a rally outside Davis Bros Restaurant.

“Now when you got out there and you don’t talk from a teleprompter, and you’re not, you know, reading notes that someone else gave you, occasionally you say something things, you wish you had a, you know, a do-over,” he said.  “But you know what, I think it’s important that you get a sense of how real the candidate is, mistakes and all.”

During a campaign stop in Moline earlier on Monday, Santorum argued that freedom formed the basis of his campaign, but as he tried to make his point, he slipped up and made the unemployment comment, which his main rival, Mitt Romney, quickly pounced on and used in a speech in Peoria.

Santorum later attempted to clarify his statement to reporters, saying he was concerned about unemployment rates but that his “candidacy doesn’t hinge” on them.

He steered clear of citing what he believes will be the most important issue in the 2012 election and instead pointed to a host of “big issues” in the race.

“This is an election about big things.  Sure, there are a lot of big issues -- the economy’s a big issue, unemployment’s a big issue.  Our national security and what’s going on with a nuclear Iran is a big issue,” he said.

Santorum, who is trailing Romney in the polls in Illinois, will spend its primary night (Tuesday) in Gettysburg, Pa.

Hogan Gidley, national communications director for Santorum, explained in a statement that the site was selected in honor of President Abraham Lincoln’s delivery of “his most poignant and passionate defense of freedom and the American spirit.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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