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. mike e

    I watched the south carolina evangelical bob jones III today..the nonsense that is eminating from his mouth
    regarding what god wants and how god is punishing the US for deviating from his word is astonishing to say
    the least....its as if we were living in the dark ages...the US economic downtown has nothing to do with god..
    and everything to do with financial manipulation by wall street and unbridled spending by both parties in
    congress...to attempt to portray this secular economic event one which has occurred from time to time
    throughout history to some devinity being upset is not only scary but is going to push away the crucial
    independents needed by republicans to win elections going forward..I am tired of the candidates in the republican
    party from pandering to the evangelical christian right in Iowa new hampshire and south carolina before they
    even get to a state which is more nearly representative of the country as a whole...time to change my registration
    from republican to no party....these are serious times that require serious solutions not religous zealotry

    January 15, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. tony

    We've had "Christian" Governments in the then known Western World from about 700 AD through to the 1600's. It was known as the "Dark Ages".

    January 15, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. arale norimaki

    Rick Santorum is the anti-gay, anti-abortion guy who is running on these social issues. Never mind health reform or jobs. Or anything important or non-discriminatory, for that matter.

    January 15, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. arale norimaki

    I don’t know how you feel, but I’m pretty sick of church people. You know what they ought to do with churches? Tax them! If holy people are so concerned with politics, government and public policy, let them pay the price of admission like everyone else.

    January 15, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  5. Mike from Calgary

    Great news for Romney! That makes it even better news for Obama!

    January 15, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. Justin

    He better do a lot of Tebowing. What a phoney.

    January 15, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. SafeJourney

    Santorium will NOT

    January 15, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  8. dreamer96

    These so called Christians are anything but Christians...they probably own stock in health insurance companies...so many without any insurance..and they don't care...those people that file a claim are doing it for the first time...trying to learn the process...where as the insurance companies do 1,000's every day, they know how to mess up a claim, delay the claim, stop payments for weeks...over a minor paperwork issue...then if they have to re-instate the claim..they don't pay for the weeks or months when it was held up...they could not care less...it's all about profit and keeping the cash flowing in...and minimize it flowing out on claims...

    January 15, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. Robert

    As a Christian im dissapointed that these church leaders would get behind a guy who has said he wants to goto war with Iran when they havent fired one shot at us,this bloodlust for war based on paranoia is not based in sound christian doctrine.Then to read farther down in the article that Newt Gingrich was there second consideration(a man who has had a affair on his dieing wife)
    These so called church leaders are not Christians but worldly men who use Christianity for convenience

    January 15, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. MaryM

    Wow, the Christian evangelicals telling their sheeple how to vote by endorcing a candidate. The IRS is watching all you churches.

    January 15, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  11. micromini

    WWJVF(who would Jesus vote for?)...not this guy!!!

    January 15, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  12. Judge

    I was gonna write something funny, but I cant. It actually hurts me to see how far conservative christians have fallen from the biblical ideal of Jesus, and im an atheist! I have lost faith in humanity today.

    January 15, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. MaryM

    MikeH, good comment. and so true

    January 15, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. MaryM

    AND the GOP/TP/Evangelical party is SPLIT.......lolololololol

    January 15, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. Bob

    Too late. The race is already decided. Just watch, South Carolina will also fall in line. This is a money game, folks, and it always has been. Santorum simply doesn't have the money. Gringrich at least has some monetary backing at this point. But that also doesn't matter, because Romney has the BIG money that matters. You want to know something else, President Obama has much more money than all of the Republicans candidates combined, and is raking in more every day.

    January 15, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. JOSE MEDINA

    Ho, ho, ho... Cardinal Santorum. You got the blessing now from the Vatican in a Texan ranch. The whole republican presidential field has been wiped out in Texas. It could have been better off to support Sarah Palin for president. Probably Sarah, as a political clown, is hardest to defeat than the "saint" Santorum or the mormon Romney. The candidate to nowhere is worst than the bridge to nowhere.
    I prefer to vote for Obama, who is also a good Christian and a president for the middle class. Those wealthy Christians and Texan Ranchers are just pushing the agenda of the rich and famous! I do no see any difference between religion-government in Iran, Irak, Vatican, Afganistan, etc.. and the new Christian fundamentalism in USA. The Christian-Conservatives are 25% only in this country. We, the rest 75%, are common people who still believe in the American Dream!!
    The Bush era and the Tea Party have taken this country in the wrong direction. For this reason, the Republican-Tea Party in the Congress does not cooperate with Obama at all. How many new jobs generated the Bush Administration with the last tax cut for the wealthy? On the contrary, the US lost millions of jobs with the tax cut + the financial speculation promoted by Christian-conservative!! In addition, the country lost more than 6-million properties, which are now in the real estate inventory of bankers, financial institutions and "vulture-investors" who are still watching the markets from the trees! Urfortunately, these Christians are redefining our traditional capitalism that made this country great in the past!!

    January 15, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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