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Santorum Calls Own Vote in Favor of Medicare Drug Benefit a 'Mistake'

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In this Dec. 7, 2010, photo, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is interviewed by The Associated Press in Washington.AP

Possible presidential candidate Rick Santorum conceded Sunday that he made a "mistake" in voting for the Medicare prescription drug benefit back in 2003, as he tried to bolster his fiscal credentials. 

Santorum, a former Republican Pennsylvania senator, told "Fox News Sunday" that there were two things wrong with the bill creating the program, which is now estimated to cost about $60 billion a year, contributing to the country's out-of-control deficit. Santorum said Congress should not have made the program universal and should have found a mechanism with which to pay for it. 

"I would say that that was a mistake," Santorum said of his vote in favor of the entitlement. 

He noted that he was against making the program universal at the time, "but we lost." He said he voted for the program for reasons other than the drug benefit, like Medicare Advantage, but suggested he should have voted against the bill anyway. 

Santorum sought to explain his record on Medicare as he talked up a new plan by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would, over time, provide seniors with subsidized private insurance as opposed to Medicare checks sent directly to doctors. 

The former senator also said that, if he decides to run, his candidacy will be much stronger than his senatorial reelection run in 2006, when he was trounced by Democrat Bob Casey. Santorum suggested former President George W. Bush's low popularity was partially to blame and said a 2012 run would not look anything like his run in 2006. 

Santorum said he will make a decision on whether to run "in the next few weeks."