Christian conservative leaders vote to support Santorum
January 14th, 2012
12:50 PM ET
2 years ago

Christian conservative leaders vote to support Santorum

(CNN) - A meeting of Christian conservative leaders resulted in the group backing GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins announced Saturday.

The group heard pitches from surrogates for Republican candidates on Friday, and voted to support Santorum after voting on Saturday.

"After three rounds of balloting this morning, and vigorous and passionate discussion, there emerged a strong consensus around Rick Santorum as the preferred candidate for this group," Perkins said on a conference call Saturday.

The group of conservative leaders was meeting at a Texas ranch to discuss the 2012 race, although ahead of the meeting it appeared unlikely the gathering would come to an agreement on backing a particular candidate.

Well-known evangelicals flocked to the event, including Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Perkins, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference president Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer. Members of the media were barred from attending.

Perkins expressed surprise the group was able to come to a consensus, but said what resulted would be a stronger chance of beating President Barack Obama.

"I will have to admit what I did not think was possible appears to be possible," Perkins said.

Representatives winnowed the field to two candidates: Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The final balloting gave 85 votes to Santorum and 29 to Gingrich.

One of the requirements for attending the meeting was a willingness to support the candidate that emerged as the winner. At least one attendee, American Family Association founder Don Wildmon, has publically endorsed Gingrich.

"There is a hope and expectation that those that are represented here, and their constituencies, that it will have an impact," Perkins said.

The individual organizations represented at the meeting will not coordinate in their efforts to back Santorum, Perkins said.

"It will manifest itself in many different ways," he said.

Perkins said discussion of frontrunner Mitt Romney's Mormon religion did not play a significant role in the weekend's discussion, and that the Romney team sent a surrogate to speak to the conservative leaders.

"This was not a bash-Mitt Romney weekend, it was focused on the positive," Perkins said. "It's not news that there is not strong support among conservatives for Mitt Romney, and that was reflected here."

Perkins dismissed concerns that the meeting happened too late the GOP race to have an impact, with Romney already having won the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. A CNN/ORC International poll released Friday showed Romney's lead growing over the rest of the field.

"The race is far from being decided," Perkins said. "South Carolina [which votes next Saturday] is a state that is more reflective of conservative voters. So this is good time to see movement toward a particular candidate for conservatives."

In a statement Saturday, Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond said the announcement was only an indication of who evangelical voters did not want in office.

"Conservative evangelical leaders spoke very clearly today that Mitt Romney will not be the nominee," Hammond said. "It is encouraging for the Republican Party to have two choices in Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. It is also encouraging that public opinion polls show South Carolina conservatives consolidating their support behind Newt Gingrich just a week before the all important First in the South Primary."


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum
soundoff (266 Responses)
  1. cbiagi1963

    Two word: Game On!

    January 14, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. s

    Gee what happened to separation between church and state

    January 14, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. diridi

    I do not know why these idiots are making a big deal, Romney is going to be front runner. but Obama wins any way.....because these votes, and other votes will fall to Obama. Sure.....No one right mind will back Romney...

    January 14, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. CCCDaughter

    That would be my dream! Rick Santorum running as the GOP frontrunner. Go ahead! Make my day!

    January 14, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. TimD

    Now I'll definately back Romney!

    January 14, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. tc

    i didnt really think christians could back romney

    January 14, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. vic , nashville ,tn

    Rick Perry please step side ,Iowa recount Rick Santorum will win now we can stop Mitt Romney

    January 14, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. Dingo Kidney

    Why is it that not one Christian knows what it means to be Christian?

    January 14, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. Dingo Kidney

    I was unaware that Jesus promoted bigotry and hate. If he were here today he'd want nothing to do with people like this and the morons who push the agenda of discrimination and hate.

    January 14, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. CarolO

    Who cares? Not everyone is running for Pastor-in-Chief as Santorum is.

    January 14, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Stoneoak

    It is time to start taxing churches as they have clearly decided their is no wall between church and state.

    January 14, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. jack mccullars

    who attended the meeting? where can we find the full results of the vote?

    January 14, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. steve

    you still wont win santorum--taking a dead baby home with you is way over the line of what regular peoiple-what happened to the law in state of penn that would allow such a morbid action

    January 14, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. Wise1Speak

    No surprise there.

    January 14, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  15. mike

    Stop the presses.

    January 14, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  16. Mary Angeline

    I'd like to thank this group for endorsing Santorum...it guarantees Obama a victory. Santorum may be their "cup of tea," but unfortunately for them, the rest of the country feels this guy's religious beliefs would be reflected way too much in all his decisions. Truthfully, I was raised as a Catholic (parochial schools, Mass every Sunday, novenas, etc.), and I never knew anyone quite as extreme as this guy. Rommey has more of a chance of beating Obama, so I thank this group for their support of Santorum!!

    January 14, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Dave Harris

    Santorum is the current holier-than-thou candidate, who is always a fixture of Republican presidential campaigns. Fortunately, they never win.

    January 14, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. Nothing new here

    Well, Republicans, just plan on having Obama as YOUR president for the next 4 years.

    January 14, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. Mk54

    Obama has got to be lovin' it

    January 14, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  20. dreamer96

    Yeah back a horse that will never get enough national voters to win....his views offend to many voters on the national level.

    January 14, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. tom

    "This was not a bash-Mitt Romney weekend, it was focused on the positive," Perkins said

    funny stuff.

    January 14, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. BISHOP

    Christian conservatives gave us George Bush,
    Their judgement is skewed at times.

    January 14, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. NJBob

    These conservative Christian organizations just forfeited their tax-exempt status.

    January 14, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. Kris

    This is good. Now I know at least one guys I don't have to vote for. Thank you Christian "conservative" leaders...

    January 14, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. Shannon

    The Republican Reprsenative from Kansas calls himself a "christian" too. He just sent out a e-mail prayer, hoping for the death of our President. There is nothing Christian about anyone on the right. Hate filled bigots, racists and fear mongers now make up the Republican party. You all should hang your heads in shame.

    January 14, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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