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RNC chairman: 'Santorum's right' about unemployment rate

"I think that Rick Santorum's right. I mean, this election is about big things. It's about liberty and freedom," said Priebus on CNN's "Starting Point."

Santorum made controversial remarks about the jobless rate on Monday at a rally in Illinois, a day ahead of that state's GOP primary.

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"I don't care what the unemployment rate's going to be. It doesn't matter to me. My campaign doesn't hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. There's something more foundational that's going on here," he said.

After rival Mitt Romney pounced on the remarks, Santorum tried to explain his statement in an interview with Fox News Monday night, saying that the unemployment rate was "didn't matter" because of larger underlying issues dragging down the economy.

"What I said was that the unemployment rate — it didn't matter what it was between now and election time, because the fundamental issue that's causing the unemployment, that's causing the economic distress in our country, is the fact that the government is imposing its will and mandating things on people and creating a yoke on top of businesses that makes it hard to employ," Santorum said on Fox News.

Priebus tried to shift the focus away from the Republican hopeful's gaffe to President Obama's healthcare legislation, slamming the law for what he said is a failure to decrease health costs or increase access to medical care.

"We've got the two-year anniversary of 'ObamaCare' that's coming," he said. "ObamaCare isn't what everyone thought it would be and in fact it's the opposite and it isn't working and it isn't improving anything."

The RNC has been hitting Obama hard on the issue, airing a new TV ad in six battleground states, a week before the Supreme Court hears arguments on his signature domestic legislation. 

Priebus told CNN that the presidential election is going to be about "not only what the Department of Labor says the unemployment rate," but also healthcare, the debt and deficit and the recently released GOP budget plan.

"Those are the big issues that this campaign will be about," he added. "Some of these things come and go, but I think they can be explained pretty easily when they're taken one at a time."