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. Chris ( 08034637824 ).

    There should be seperation between church and state. I think this guys should know that; i dont have a vote anyway.

    January 15, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  2. Can't Believe It!

    The Evangelicals must be desperate to keep a Mormon out of the White House......they are endorsing a Catholic!

    January 15, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  3. Marie MD

    Excuse me, but should these churches be allowed non tax status? It's good to know that these so called "christians" hate everything that doesn't follow their ridiculous rules!
    They are the 25%-30% of the country. saint daddy, hater of women's and gay rights, among so many other crazy ideas hasn't got a prayer (pun intended).

    January 15, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  4. Seamus

    Regardless of how stupid this is, why didn't they organize behind a candidate 9 months ago? Its kind of late

    January 15, 2012 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  5. Ritt Money

    This guy's ideas are a couple thousand years old.

    January 15, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  6. Michelle

    @Kris...i was just about to say the same thing...at least now we know who NEVER to vote for...

    January 15, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  7. don in albuquerque

    God save me from those who want to SAVE me

    January 15, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  8. Pedron

    Why vote for Democrat Romney ?I urge my fellow conservatives to defect en-mass and register as democrats and paint the elephant blue!! go go mitts

    January 15, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  9. Ex-GOP Con

    Kinda ironic that these so-called Christians are against a Predsident who has worked hard to help the poor and needy of this country. Yet they sit atop their tax-exempt status.

    January 15, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  10. TJeff1776

    Somewhat AMAZING. The Rev. Dr. Oliver Greene, a coast to coast radio commentator once said "politics and government has no place in religion and religion has no place in politics and government. Otherwise, we will will end back up combining Church and State, and we surely don't want that."
    Perhaps SIN has finally been overcome and our preachers have plenty of time on their hands AND church funds to
    spend on politics !!!! IF SO, why do they seem to forever have their hands out.

    January 15, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  11. 3vix6

    I agree with one of the previous posts. If churches are deciding their political agenda and getting into politics, especially backing a candidate, it's time to tax them.

    January 15, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  12. Joe Smith

    Conservative Christians should never vote for a Mormon if they are true to their beliefs. Mormonism is a cult that takes the Lord's name in vain, and of course a cult that thinks all REAL Christians are heretics because they don;t believe that a petty con man from upstate New York found real scriptures that proved Jesus was in North America and that Indians are actually a lost tribe of Jews.

    January 15, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  13. Scott

    Wow, that's almost 100 votes. Look out Obama! Santorum has support of .008 % of the country...

    And these "religious leaders", are they like real leaders? Or leaders of like a small church? They do realize that when you run for president, you need more support than just a few hundred crazies, right?

    January 15, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  14. gg

    so they want to replace a christian that is in the white house now–with a mormon cult worshipper

    January 15, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  15. Steve Corbin

    For all of 2010 I heard the pundits and the Repblican Party say anyone could run and beat the President.
    So we republicans get a slate of really bad candidates. Now all we are hearing is "who can beat the president, who is electable"? The Republican establishment wants more than anything to win the whitehouse and they are counting on the voters to give up their right to vote for the candidate that reflects and vote for the party candidate. I will not vote for the one I think "MIGHT" win. I AM VOTING FOR DR. RON PAUL BECAUSE HE RELECTS MY VIEWS AND for over 20 years has been CONSISTENT on his beliefs.

    January 15, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  16. sensible

    Of course they like Santorum. It sounds like sanitarium!

    January 15, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  17. Inrealityhere

    Mark 12:17
    "And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's... "
    Christians have a responsibility to be involved in government. Everyone who votes has there own master be it Christ, Bhudda, Allah, Satan, self...or whatever, and their decisions will be according to what they believe so please quit the "separation" banter.

    January 15, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  18. SCAtheist

    They didn't select Tebow? I guess that was a sign that god has withdrawn his blessing.

    January 15, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  19. 21k

    yes! religious wars will be good for bizness!

    January 15, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  20. 21k

    by the way, they forgot to mention that these religious businessmen will be deducting the cost of this trip from their federal tax returns. even though the religious exemption their businesses get prohibits involvement in elections. gee, wasn't it the 5th commandment that said thou shalt not lie? eh, figures, xtians.

    January 15, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  21. GI Joe

    I'm still voting for "that one".

    He isn't dictating that we all be one religion.

    January 15, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. Jack518

    Congratulations, Mr. Romney.

    January 15, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. sleuth51

    CNN should write a story on the comments to this report. I couldn't find one comment that defended these lunatics.

    January 15, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. USA#1

    Inrealityhere: So you don't adhere to the Constitution? The banter will continue. Silence is not an option.

    January 15, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  25. NH Grandma

    Wow...when people are voting for who's more "Christian" or even "Conservative", one has to feel bad for the USA. Nothing like heading in the wrong direction (backwards). Wise up, people! God and politics are not good partners.

    January 15, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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