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. mk1

    I would like to know why all these religious figures are still receiving tax exempt status for their supposed churches and organizations. For them to become involved in politics and endorse a candidate should automatically remove any tax exempt status they have. I am so tired of holier than though religious nut jobs trying to tell people who to vote for and get away tax free. Makes me sick.

    January 14, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Steve Corbin

    It seems cnn didn't like my prior post. You loved to report on old racist newsletters from the 1990's how about this?

    According to an OLDER edition of "the Nation" Four years ago, Perkins addressed the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), America's premier white supremacist organization, the successor to the White Citizens Councils, which battled integration in the South. In 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana. The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke.

    So why not ask Santorum about his endorsement from Tony Perkins? Let's hear about this !

    January 14, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  3. Independent Voters

    Why would Christian conservatives would vote for a racist candidate

    January 14, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  4. madmaninthemiddle

    If you support Obama, this is good news. If I'm an Obama strategist, I'm praying this gives Santorum a win in SC. Then everyone except Romney, Paul and Santorum drop out, and Romney has to spend money, stay to the right longer, and endure more criticism, all of which hurt him in the general.

    January 14, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. ConservativessSUCK

    Taliban style politics is coming to America. Good, god fearing christians are going to tell you and your wife what you can do, when you can do it and how. Just like the phuucking taliban.

    January 14, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. John/kc

    Santorum wants all forms of birth control to be outlawed. Will he help raise your 10 to 15 kids that each family would have?
    Time to start taxing churches!

    January 14, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. Steve Corbin

    At least one of these Christian conservative leaders is head of a group that was labled "a hate group" by the splc.

    January 14, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    Can we collect back taxes on churches for 200 years? debt gone.

    January 14, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  9. carlossuave

    Pro abortion
    Thanks for Obama care Rick... thanks to your endorsement we got Pro-Abotion Arlen Specter. I will not vote for you. The last thing this country needs is another puppet for the Military industrial complex and special interest groups who profit from wars off the backs of the poor and working class .. Thanks but no thanks

    January 14, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  10. pnwjim

    And the good people of the Chamber of Commieurist say don't you two boys[nwet and rick] saying the truth about our leader of $crew the middle class KING WILLARD.

    January 14, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. Ambrose Smith

    Good! And when Romney wins the nomination you can all stay home and cry in your sweet tea. You won't want to vote for a cultist RINO or the person you consider to be a Muslim Kenyan. Stay home on election day. It will only help Obama!

    January 14, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. MWM

    Santorum for POTUS(Pastor of the US).

    January 14, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. Kiki

    Nothing Jesus loved like hyocrites and earmarks.

    January 14, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. ScFan

    Santorum has big mouth for a guy who just lost 2 states in a row...keep trying!

    January 14, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. carlossuave

    Not sure how war-mongering Santorum appeals to Christians, instead of peace-maker Ron Paul. Not sure if evangelicals are talking about the same Jesus.

    January 14, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. hypatia

    The IRS should be coming for them

    January 14, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. horseyone62

    Wow!
    Do all "Christian Conservatives" sleep and play with dead babies too? Nothing conservative about that, it's more like cutting edge...with extremely SICK overtones.
    Have fun with this Republicans; knew these weirdos would eventually bite the hand that fed!!

    January 14, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. metacog

    Hmm, "Christian leaders" who are tax-exempt flying in private jets to an exclusive "conference"...

    January 14, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. clarke

    Is this the only reason they would vote for him. Let freedom ring.

    January 14, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. Ed Zachary

    Makes me embarrassed to be a Christian. These guys don't represent the majority of Christians in this country. Go back to your pulpits and stop trying to impose your extreme values on everyone.

    January 14, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  21. willie floyd

    IMO he won't carry another state except maybe some of the coal mine areas or in that general region.

    I wanted to post a comment on Pres. Obama downsizing govt. but comments were closed. We all need to get on our telephones and call any Rep. possible and let them know their time is limited if they continue to oppose the pres. on everything. I have held for 20 mins. getting through to Boehners' ofc.-but it's worth it!!

    January 14, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  22. politics as usual

    I think it is unfortunate that Santorum chose to speak about being his bringing his deceased baby home. It was obviously a sacred experience for his family and now people are making jokes about it. Maybe people will better understand now why Romney doesn't talk about aspects of the Mormon religion which are sacred to him. Personally, I admire any man who truly lives his religion, which both Romney and Santorum seem to do. Can't we just keep the focus on turning our country around?

    January 14, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  23. Johnson

    Funny, Christians don't vote democrat right? It baffles me to see the phrase "Christian Conservative. How can you be a Christian and vote for a racist? Are these phoney Christians? America can be a joke when it wants to be.

    January 14, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  24. PTBarnumboy

    One small step for theocracy one giant step for Romney.

    January 14, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. Harry Baxter

    If Jesus came to earth and announced that he was a Democrat (which is highly likely), the Christian conservatives would back someone else. As a Roman Catholic, I'm offended by what Sanctimoniusum believes, and would try to impose on other people, Catholic or otherwise.

    January 14, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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