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. Go Evangel Leaders!!!!!

    Mitt Romney has no core. That's what it takes to be a "corporate welfare raider". So, now Romney is asking the Evangel Communitie­s to drop their core values just to win an election. This will backfire on them and will leave a stain on them for years to come. I would rather loose on what I believe, than try to win on what's not there

    January 14, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. TennFred

    I had a very conservative gentleman angrily tell me a few years ago that America gets the President it deserves (referring to Obama and America's obvious fall from grace). I replied to him then that I had to agree that at times we become so preoccupied with one or two issues that we tend to not see the big picture or the potential bad outcomes from our actions.
    That in my opinion is what is happening here. Conservatives are so focused on defeating President Obama and ensuring that their guy is a Christian that they are wiling to put our nation at risk. I just hope we are able to protect ourselves from these myopic zealots and don't get the President THEY deserve.

    January 14, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    They're evangelical. That's reason enough to not pay them any attention or take anything they say with a grain of salt.

    January 14, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  4. surfninja

    Rick Santorum doesn't worship Bible Jesus. He worships Vulture Jesus – and Vulture Jesus says it's okay to rob from the poor, elderly, and sick – and give it all to the rich – Amen.

    January 14, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  5. mike from iowa

    religion is a mental disease. christians are nothing like christ, they are hypocritical, prejudiced and against freedom and liberty. just like their muslim brothers. conservative christians would run the country like the taliban, given the chance.

    January 14, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  6. mike from iowa

    religion is a mental disease

    January 14, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  7. Boston Guy

    To be a Christian means to be "Christ Like" and if you promote hate then you are no Christian. These people would rather see gay men and women exterminated than see the poor and homeless feed and have shelter.

    January 14, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  8. mike from iowa

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

    January 14, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  9. LegendRx

    True Christian should be expected to support and vote for their fellow christian brethren, especially when his opponent is a Mormon . . . Lets see how that work out for ya. Teehee

    January 14, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. bill486

    Not one mention of what criteria Santorum meets to win their support; just "we need to beat Barack Obama & get back in power."

    This is why Barack Obama will get a second term; none of his challengers actually have a plan for the economy, jobs, health care, foreign policy, alternative energy, education, etc.--THEY JUST WANT TO BE BACK IN POWER-–NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!!!!!

    R.I.P. GOP & good riddance!!!!!!!

    January 14, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  11. Eye of Newt

    I hope the conservative "christian" freaks do some real damage to Mr. Romney. It should provide some fulfilling entertainment, and hopefully, it will end up helping Mr. Obama.

    January 14, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  12. MikeH

    The Reptilican party is for Romney, the RepubliKlan party is for Perry, the Rectumican party is for Gingrinch, and the ReligiCon party is for Santorum. Is that a fair assessment?

    Whichever of these right-wing mental defectives goes on to campaign in the the main election, Obama's biggest challenge during his Presidential campaign will be trying to keep a straight face.

    January 14, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  13. goodlife

    gingrich is now very mad at church leaders to have endorsed santorum. newt will soon call for hauling the church leaders to congress for not honoring church and state separation, and their tax exemption revoked for taking a political position publicly with the full intent of influencing the political process.

    January 14, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  14. skarphace

    "Christian Conservatives", or those Evangelists that want America's civil laws to be based on "God's Law", are in a lose-lose situation this political season.

    They cannot back Obama, even though he is a Christian, because he is a "Socialist", or so they believe.
    They cannot back Romney or Huntsman, because both are Mormon.
    They cannot back Paul because he is socially moderate.
    They could back Gingrich, but he has past moral baggage.
    They could back Perry, but he keeps messing up in speeches and debates.
    So they will back Santorum, even though he has less chance than any of the above in a general election.

    In the end, they will have to choose between voting for a moderate Mormon and staying home which will help Obama. Either way, they will not be happy in 2013.

    January 14, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  15. Jack V

    How boring & predictable!

    January 14, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  16. Dee

    I just don't understand how Christians can call themselves conservatives, not the message Jesus preached. These people are so full of hate and self righteousness it is sickening.

    January 14, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  17. Nytw

    These alleged Christian Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves. Their support of a Rick rum is disgusting. He will give our freedom and liberties away to the pope. How can any Christian support someone who worships ta man instead of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    January 14, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  18. petemg

    I hope because of this that Obama does not get reelected. I know it is their right, but spread votes too much and we might as well give it to Obama.

    January 14, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  19. Bama Girl for Obama

    This Christian is supporting President Obama!

    January 14, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  20. bubba

    of course bigot christians pick this mad man. sick religion, sick person.

    January 14, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  21. A Better Christian than Them !

    I think I'll get one of my priest friends to exercise the demons out of Rick Santorum !! He supports 'family' values ? Oh, yeah annul every gay marriage and doesn't give a damn about their children or families ? I am a better man, Christian and Catholic than him as a gay educated native Texan, Democrat of course ! than this nasty hateful evil stupid Santorum could ever be. Obama is a better man (person) than ANY Republican clown could ever be and cares MORE for All Americans (and human beings) than any of these wacko GOP presidential wannabees !!!

    January 14, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    If he is a Christian, then why is he against the poor, the middle-class, the elderly, the sick and needy and blue collar workers? -- You know, like the people that Jesus chose to be His disciples.

    January 14, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  23. A Better Christian than Them !

    I meant exorcise !!

    January 14, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  24. Maryabb

    A most unfortunate decision.

    January 14, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  25. lewtwo

    This was a gathering of the most Radical Right Wing extremest available ... where was Rush ??

    When Romney gets nominated the GOP is will see a Southern Baptist Tea Party revolt.

    January 14, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
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