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. Tim

    Some of you seem really ignorant of tax laws and endorsing of candidates.
    Individuals, including pastors, can endorse any candidate they wish. They can even get together and do it. 501c organizations, which includes many churches (but not all churches) cannot do this and expect to keep their tax exempt status. The churches these pastors are part of did not endorse Santorum, so there is no tax code violation.
    Please learn how this restriction works before posting your silly, knee jerk comments.

    January 14, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  2. bryjon

    Anyone but a Mormon, right guys? Obama will win.

    January 14, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. krgguy

    Santorum? Really? LMFAO. My turd would have a better chance of winning against him..!

    January 14, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  4. buckup

    Now that the Republican Party of God has spoken, I know how to think.

    January 14, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  5. phil

    Gosh, I wonder if they all wore peaked white conical hats? My guess is yes. Disgusting!

    January 14, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  6. Cindy

    Santorum is a better fit for them. But he is too mean for me. Woman's rights will go backward 50 years. I was laughing and laughing at them voting for Romney because when Romney ran against Kennedy he promised to be the most gay-rights senator in congress. Gingrich is starting to look better. He is the smartest and lives a modest life. But I think I will still vote for Obama. Better first lady.

    January 14, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  7. tew

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Rick Santorum by evidence of his words does not have a positive opinion of "Black People" He beleive through his words that Blacks would rather get free money than work and he wants to give them opportunity rather that free monies. This is why he surged in Iowa and this is why he will surge in SC and FL because the bible belt is where bigotry runs rampant.

    January 14, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  8. mandarax

    What is up with Christians? How can their ideals and values be so ... so ... unchristian? Their politics are like "opposite world."

    January 14, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  9. Sandra

    Okay after all th CNN Hype of this meeting. will this meeting change any thing . Romney will win the nomination. And the tea party has no relevance except being mention on CNN. teaparty could not influence the nominaton too bad

    January 14, 2012 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  10. JohnNJ

    What a bunch of low IQ hipocrites. Santorum is so far from being of Presidential quality that it brings back images of Dan Quayle not to mention the iconic Palin.
    Santorum even questions the right of privacy: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything… It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution..."

    January 14, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  11. Can we move on?

    Conservative Christians as a group have a great deal of faith in things that have no proof of actually being possible. Because of this mind set, they are backing a candidate that has no possibility of becoming president. None. If this guy becomes president, I guarantee that will be the same day Moses will reappear and part the reflecting pond at the Washington Monument. I guarantee it. Have faith, my conservative brothers and sisters. Have faith! On a note more based in reality, Christian Conservatives who refuse to vote for Romney because he "isn't really Christian" will guarantee Obama's re-election.

    January 14, 2012 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  12. Sandy

    Bet he can't say the same for Ron Paul!

    January 14, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  13. Liz the First

    All the more reason not to elect Santorum. 'Christian conservative' is an oxymoron. what passes for Christianity today is the exact opposite of what Jesus actually taught. Jesus was aa liberal! every position conservatives hold He preached against. He came to teach us to love one another and take care of each other. the conservative philosophy is 'i've got mine, the hell with you!' real Christians are liberals!!!

    January 14, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    If I wanted to live in a theocracy, I would move to Iran. Hopefully, enough other voters feel the same way to make short work of Rick Santorum.

    January 14, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  15. Killdeer

    Sorry, extreme right wing evangelical B/S will not get another shrub into the W/H

    January 14, 2012 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  16. Matt

    To all the Obama fans, I submit that maybe, just maybe, there's a third option to an Obama style big government and the Christian Taliban government that Santorum wants. These right wing groups like the FRC may get a lot of news coverage, but will ultimately have little effect on who the nominee is.

    January 14, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  17. Portland tony

    Who are these people. I must be leading a sheltered life. The FAMILY research council, the focus on the FAMILY group?, the American FAMILY association etc...Are these nonprofits, lobbyist, NGO's, religious organizations,or maybe all of the above? So some 120 or so of these people speak for all Christians who call themselves born again evangelicals. Very odd and self assuming of them!

    January 14, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  18. glorydays

    Thanks, now I know who not to vote for.

    January 14, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  19. IndTexas

    The should be required to pay taxes like the rest of Americans. Then they can voice their opinion!

    January 14, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  20. m

    Just what we need a Jim Jones in the White House.

    January 14, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  21. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    So of course, this is just worth THEIR votes, as the congregations are not obligated to vote the same way. Or are they intending to follow them into the voting booth?

    January 14, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  22. Squigman

    Just more proof that there's no place for a pulpit, in a voting booth

    January 14, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  23. Tom

    This is irrelevant. There is no way a religious cook is gona win the presidency let alone the republican nomination.

    January 14, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  24. Thrilla

    Typical of the evangelicals...frighteningly predictable as well. I have to ask again: just exactly what is it that distinguishes the extreme evangelicals in this country from the Taliban or any other like institution?

    January 14, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  25. Bunni's Bunni

    I think it's sad this Evangelical group would back Gringrich before they would back Romney. Seriously, Gringrich hasn't got a moral fiber in him, but God forbid we have a Morman as president. **GASP** Don't get me wrong, I'm not voting for any of these candidates in the next election. I just find it amusing.

    January 14, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
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