Christian conservative leaders vote to support Santorum
January 14th, 2012
12:50 PM ET
3 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. thes33k3r

    Bring it on. I'd love to see Santorum and these evangelical theocrats get humiliated in November.

    January 15, 2012 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  2. evensteven

    It's so silly that in a country which supposedly was founded on the idea of "religious tolerance" that we have religion playing such a role in people's choice of candidates. A person's religious affiliation should have nothing to do with their candidacy—but rather whether or not their values support the nation as a whole. Most religions teach to do good works and love your fellow man. Unfortunately here in America, we don't always have a lot of love for those of differing religious views . . .

    Tolerance is needed badly in our country . . .

    January 15, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  3. Ghetto Bro

    Gee – just what you want for a President. Somebody who talks to his imaginary friend in the sky and wants to govern from a 2000 year old book of fables, lies and made up stories. Yep, sounds good to me. (NOT!!)

    January 15, 2012 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  4. Lenny Pincus

    Rick Santorum, who recently said America was perfect from the start because all men were equal as children of God. A historical clod like this doesn't belong in a bad, backwater school with this kind of horse manure, much less running for the presidency. It proves Christianists care nothing about the Truth. In fact, they seem to hate it.

    January 15, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  5. mfx3

    Well, I guess this just demonstrates how irrelevant Christian conservatives are to the GOP these days.

    January 15, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  6. Julesman

    It's really disturbing sitting on the other side of the pond watching\listening to the rise of christian extremism in the US. Hope you guys manage to elect someone who is tainted with the odor of religious fervour...

    January 15, 2012 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  7. Denker

    Christian fundamentalists as all religious fundamentalists further prove that fact that there is no deity. A god would not put up with their lies.

    January 15, 2012 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  8. andrew

    A liberal democrats dream come true: Rick Santorum is the republican nominee for president. Santorum is a pre-Vatican II ultra conservative catholic who believes that government should outlaw the sale of contraceptives. Over 90/95 % of Catholics today use or have used contraceptives in family planning. A solid majority of Catholics are liberal on social and economic issues. Two of the most liberal states in the union (Mass and R.I.) are heavily catholic states. Santorum is so far out of the mainstream that LBJ's defeat of Goldwater in 1964 will look like a close election compared to the beat down Obama will give this extremist.

    January 15, 2012 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  9. jimw

    Santorum is as close to a fascist as this country has seen in a long time, but how is it that conservative evangelical can support a candidate and their church remains tax-exempt. Our Constitution does not guarantee freedom of religion, it was the wish of the founding fathers to guarantee freedom from religion, there would be no state religion. Too many fundamentalists and conservatives would like to see radical Christianity as the religion of the country, along with making English the official language. We're heading for the type of religious oppression from which our country's founders fled Europe.

    January 15, 2012 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  10. trent1280

    I believe this meeting was flawed in the eyes of the Lord.

    Where was Rev Ted Haggard? Prof Rev George Rekers? Bishop Eddie Long?

    They were in constant and highly visible attendance at most such events such a little while ago. Why were they not in Texas, providing REAL leadership? They hold powerful views that have always been supported by such elite Christians as those who have endorsed Rick Santorum.

    The Family Research Council and Focus on the Family have long welcomed and endorsed the views of the well-known anti-gay activist Prof Rev George Rekers. Why was George Rekers not invited to this meeting?

    Something is wrong here. Very, very wrong.

    January 15, 2012 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  11. S.

    Believe me, these guys don't speak for anyone but themselves. BTW, this isn't a church/state issue.

    January 15, 2012 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  12. Bes

    Are they all crazies, they got locked away down there... in their dungeon of despair.

    January 15, 2012 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  13. Chris B

    Ah crap. There's Santorum all over the headlines tonight.

    January 15, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  14. Denker

    Scrotum can shove it!

    January 15, 2012 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  15. Joanna Crombie

    As an evangelical Christian it sickens me that other Christians would promote pro-death candidates. Both Santorum and Gingrich claim to be pro-life yet want to aggressively seek out and kill in never-ending wars. Of course, Romney is just as bad in this area and Obama and Huntsman are too. Perhaps if Christians actually considered doing what Jesus would do and did it, we'd be taken more seriously. Love, not war, is the answer.

    January 15, 2012 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  16. Thomas

    If Christian conservative leaders could only spend as much time demonstrating how to use a condom .

    Then again it's against there Union rights.

    January 15, 2012 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  17. skytag

    Any adult with an imaginary friend is a danger to society.

    January 15, 2012 04:50 am at 4:50 am |
  18. Patricksday

    The American "Christian" Taliban are getting behind a Catholic of all people. Desperate Times call for Desperate Measures for their desire to back to the dark ages of witch hunts and burnings at the stake. Good Times.

    January 15, 2012 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  19. Weasley

    NJBob got it right. If the Christian conservatives can't stay out of politics then it's time we start taxing them.

    Family Research Council - TAX EXEMPT STATUS REVOKED
    .

    January 15, 2012 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  20. john

    I think it's pretty clear: romney is the only one of the GOP candidates who stands a fighting chance against obama.

    January 15, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  21. mark

    These people would do well to pick a candidate that could actually win. Santorum is NOT that candidate. They would do even better if they would follow Jesus' teachings and stay out of politics altogether.

    January 15, 2012 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  22. Dennis B.

    What happened to the idea of separation of church and state? These holier than thou self rightous people would like to impose a theocracy upon the US similiar to what Iran is.

    January 15, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  23. xRedfoxx

    I don't care what group endorses what politician. I can think for myself and will vote for the person that best reflects my conservative beliefs. For this Chiristain who has also been a life-long republican, I'm choosing Congressman Ron Paul.

    January 15, 2012 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  24. joe smith

    santorum is in this to take votes away from Ron Paul..but the people have been blinded by the media..

    January 15, 2012 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  25. petena

    Christain conservative leaders? Please don't call yourselves Christains. You offend me.

    January 15, 2012 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
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