One evangelical leader says that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is like the Italian captain whose cruise ship sank -- because the former House Speaker was sailing on his own personal love boat when he cheated on his first and second wives.

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council -- a hate group, according the the Southern Poverty Law Center -- reacted to the news on Thursday that Gingrich's second wife, Marianne, would be spilling secrets about her former marriage to ABC News.

"I think, especially in the evangelical community, they understand the issue of forgiveness," Perkins told CNN's Soledad O'Brien. "But that does not necessarily translate into endorsing for leadership."

"When you look at the captain of the Costa Concordia, the guy who abandoned his responsibility -- I mean, who's going to put him in charge of a cruise ship again? I'm not getting on that cruise ship."

Capt. Francesco Schettino told an inquest this week that he had only abandoned his sinking ship because he accidentally fell into a lifeboat.

In a video clip released by ABC News on Thursday, Marianne Gingrich claimed that she had also been abandoned because she would not agree to an "open marriage" after her husband began dating his soon-to-be third wife, Callista.

Perkins and about a hundred other Christian conservative leaders have thrown their weight behind Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

Watch this video from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Jan. 19, 2012.