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Christie: Santorum Satan comments are 'relevant' in campaign

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Wednesday that Rick Santorum's comments about Satan are relevant to the presidential race. 

"I think anything you say as a presidential candidate is relevant. It's by definition relevant; you're asking to be president of the United States," Christie, a supporter of Mitt Romney, said on ABC 's "Good Morning America." 

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"I think it is relevant what he says. I think people want to make an evaluation, a complete evaluation of anybody who asks to sit in the Oval Office, so I think it's relevant in that respect," Christie said. "Now, do I think it's the thing we should be talking about and emphasizing at the moment? No."

Santorum has defended the remarks from a 2008 speech at Ave Maria University in Florida. They received attention after the conservative Drudge Report website displayed a story about them prominently for much of Tuesday. The story said Santorum told students that "Satan has his sights on the United States of America." 

Mitt Romney seized on the remarks, arguing Santorum has not been vetted enough to be president. 

Polls show Santorum in a neck-and-neck battle in Michigan with Romney, the front-runner for much of the GOP primary season who has struggled to close the deal with conservative voters. A defeat in Michigan for Romney, whose father was governor of that state, would be a devastating loss. 

Santorum told reporters Tuesday at a rally in Phoenix that his comments "are not relevant to what is being discussed in America today," according to a report by ABC News. 

"If you want to dig up old speeches of me talking to a religious group, then go right ahead and do so, but I’m going to stay on message and I’m going to talk about things that Americans want to talk about: creating jobs, making our country safe and secure and, yeah, taking on the forces around this world that want to do harm to America," said Santorum. 

Christie told ABC News Wednesday morning that Santorum "wasn't right about" calling the speech irrelevant and said voters want to be able to assess the the totality of a presidential candidate.

The New Jersey governor said he believes voters are primarily focused on the economy and job creation.

"I think that the idea of the fighting against religion piece of this goes more to the 'ObamaCare' issue and the invasion of ObamaCare into maybe some religious-freedom issues. I think that's an interesting conversation and an important one to have," he said.

Christie, who declined to join the GOP race after much speculation and pressure last fall, endorsed Romney in October and has been a powerful campaign surrogate for the former Massachusetts governor during the primary season.

Santorum’s language on religion and values has coming under deeper scrutiny as he continues toward the top of the GOP presidential pack.