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. mirrorlogic

    Did you read where Willard Mitt handed over cash to a struggling women - Okay let's put this in perspective. $60 from a person making $40,000 a year is .015 percent of their money. The lower end estimate of Willard Mitts salary is $194,000,000 (some estimate 250million). But using $194M === if you take .015 percent that means whereby a regular American hands over $60; Romney should give $291,000 – does that show how silly this shallow act really was?

    January 14, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  2. scottf

    I represent whack jobs of America and we are supporting Hump the wonder camel.

    January 14, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  3. anonymous

    A group of sanctimonious, self-righteous Pharisees want to decide which theocrat should be presidenct so that they can create their own theocracy here in America? No, thank you! That is NOT what my family fought for in all the wars of the last century and in this....

    January 14, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  4. Leigh1234567

    These dopes don't want to win the White House in November, do they? Do they really think theocratic police-state-for-Jesus candidate Santorum will win in a general??? HEY DUMMIES....NOPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 14, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  5. dave

    darn it all..im a right wing conservative and am glad to be one..but...we just could not come up with a candidate this time that is leadership material to beat Obama...yes the mormon issue is important to me as by definition it is a cult ..however that being said...there just is not a true leader out there.darn

    January 14, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  6. Greg

    Church, meet State. State, Church.

    Democracy FAIL.

    January 14, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  7. StupidReligion

    These damned evangelicals need to lose their Tax Free status for meddling in politics. It is clear they are flaunting the Law on this. Just do it and teach them a lesson.

    January 14, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  8. ClearAndPresentThinking

    Yawn! Nominate Rick S. and Obama will be a shoe-in for re-election. Actually, nominate any of the GOP incompetents and the result will be the same – four more years.

    January 14, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  9. Bozzz

    This decision was made on a Texas ranch. Doesn't that say it all? These people are so out of touch with reality. Santorum may fit their ideology, but he is totally unelectable. He is a danger to civilization.

    January 14, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  10. Johns

    That's too bad all tea trolls will be heading to Romney's camp!!

    January 14, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  11. Ja-Coffalotte

    Christian conservatives may as well pick their noses or something else

    January 14, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  12. CaptainDorkOfTheWeeniePatrol

    OK. We got the Christian conservatives riding a dead horse. That's good. The teabaggers are deflated. That's good.

    The wingnut Republicans have ticked off the Hispanics, Latinos, LBGT, pro-choice, the poor, the NAACP .....

    Romney is a shoe-in.

    @CNN when do we get the vote from the Muslim, Hindu, etc. conservative organzations?

    January 14, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  13. j.j santa monica

    what's funny is these so-called christians really believe they know what's right for everybody. yet they wear their hypocrisy on their feet. in plain sight. i'll bet there wasnt a pair of shoes in that meeting that cost less than a thou.

    January 14, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  14. J.V.Hodgson

    Very undemocratic. A group of christians from wherever these organisations exist, then send a delegate to vote on which candidate they will support. I would guess even some individual members of EACH of the groups may not support Santorum, possibly Gingrich or even Perry.
    Equally, so much for the farcial situation of religion and politics being separate. All the religious Pacs should pay taxes on thier income as should any individual church supporting the group.
    I keep my religion to myself and my political views, latter by saying independent; for which read no particular political affiliation. time to take religious dogma out of politics and its influence on who gets elected. Meaning practice to the full you particular faiths rules, tenets, interpretation of the commandments or any religious book and dogma....and stop trying to make you particular version of religion into laws, and demanding that a person can only be elected when they share your views.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    January 14, 2012 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  15. AK_steve

    God save us from those who say they speak in your name. They know not what they do.

    January 14, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  16. Allan

    Quick, what can we do to stop the Mormon?

    Oh brother, this bigoted behavior disguised as political sincerity is getting so old. Evangelicals who hate Mormons just need to repent and get back to living the gospel of love that Jesus taught. No, Jesus would not hate Mormons.

    January 14, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  17. Seattle Sue

    Hypocrites all.

    January 15, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  18. Reality

    Red-neck evangelicals backing two Catholics!! Wow, now that is an act of great desperation !!!

    January 15, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  19. Reality

    Re-d-neck evangelicals backing two Catholics!! Wow, now that is an act of great desperation !!!

    January 15, 2012 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  20. Woman In California

    This is one of the only smart things this group of self righeous hypocrits has done. Romney is no Christian (and yes, I said it). He is the DEVIL and once people REALLY find out more about the cult of his – he is going to start sinking.

    January 15, 2012 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  21. Tyler Durden

    I think Santorum sealed this deal when he stated that he does not want to help black people.

    January 15, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  22. David

    Christians Conservatives... Now that's an oxymoron..

    January 15, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  23. cn

    thank you, perkins, for proving the atheists right. see how the christians love each other so much.

    January 15, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  24. Reggie from LA

    Ughh! I am so agasp. So the winner should be the choice of the Evangilical Right, all other concerns and campaign platforms disregarded? What a system! Will that be enough? Will Romney and that "awful" Gingrich now sink like stones because of the church's influence? What about Norquist calling the shots? This will be interesting to watch in SC and so forth. What a bunch.

    January 15, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  25. Jack

    Santorum really? As a Christian conservative no one asked me my opinion and he would be my last choice. He is an embarrassment every time he opens his mouth. Let's remember that our Lord associated with sinners. In a Santorum Administration he would have no tolerance for anyone who didn't fit "his image". Not exactly what I would consider a good choice as a Christian presidential alternative.

    January 15, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
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