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. Cumberland Man

    "Christian Conservatives"? Now there's an oxymoron if ever there was one! If Jesus was anything, he was a raving liberal. Read the Gospels you jerks!

    January 15, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  2. TJeff1776

    JOE SMITH....states "Mormonism is a cult". I suppose thats true IF all denominations can be listed as such. In reality that statement is COMPLETELY FALSE. The very name of the Mormon Church is printed in granite if front of ALL their buildings "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". I have attended the Mormon Church for the past thirty years, They end EVERY prayer in the the name of "Jesus Christ". At EVERY meeting minute by minute is NOTHING but quotes and teachings of Jesus Christ from the New and Old Testiments. Yes, they have a Book of Mormon BUT thats also filled with teachings of Jesus Christ. FOR ANYONE to list Mormons as non-Christians is the very height of STUPIDITY and ONLY means they know nothing about them EXCEPT what they hear from competing preachers.

    January 15, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  3. John N Florida

    So now we have the opinion of the American Taliban. These are the people who would gladly replace Democracy with Theocracy. Senator Santorum said that JFK's separation speech made him vomit re; his allegiance to the Catholic Church would not influence his actions and agenda as President.
    These Theocrats may be qualified American citizens as far as qualifying to run. Their agenda is to replace the Constitution with Christian Biblical government.

    January 15, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. Just make it up

    wow, three rounds heh? Did they think they were selecting a pope? With all that voting it came down to the "Focus on the Family" group to put Newt in the top 2??? Yeah ... these people are real thinkers... I think someone spiked their Kool Aid.

    January 15, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. Just make it up

    TJeff, we know very well that you speak of and quote Jesus... the problem is that you speak of him as just another prophet... and Joseph Smith still the one you all follow. If you can get the Mormon Church to come out and say that Jesus is the savior and Joseph Smith is not, then your comment would have some validity. PS... Jesus didn't speak in the Old Testement.. you might want to get a new Bible if he does in yours.

    January 15, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. Answerman28

    What an embarrassing, pathetic spectacle of lies and egos. Anyone who’s honestly believes they are connected to a supernatural being that is responsible for us being here and also has influence in our daily lives and destinies, regardless of what religion they subscribe to should not be allowed to run for office, vote or have any influence on laws that rational people have to live by period. They also should never be allowed to have any say about how to manage natural resources or anything concerning our planets well being. Best answer? Sterilize. Religious tolerance is not the answer, It’s time to learn from history and drop the fairytales.

    January 15, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. dreamer96

    Mitt Romney is so nice helping a desperate woman by giving her $50-$60 bucks.. Mitt Romney told her to give her address and phone number to his staff, and he would give her an offer for her house 40 cents on the dollar at today's home value...better then she would get after the bank forecloses on her....he would take the cash out of the offer as an advance payment...nice guy..

    January 15, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. jmsbois

    Please explain: Why don't these "churches" pay taxes?

    January 15, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. judith

    Santorum is so extreme in his views he could never be elected President. I agree with the poster above as well. If these churches are so very political, why are they not required to pay taxes. The are obviously no longer primarily religious organizations–they are arms of the Republican Party.

    January 15, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  10. sensible

    ....best chance to beat Obama? He only got about 20% of the republican vote in Iowa....some chance!!

    January 15, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Praise the Lord and pass the ballot box.

    January 15, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. Jamie

    Christian conservatives are dumb as a box of rocks.

    January 15, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. joey

    Santorum apparently believes in "an entitlement culture" when it comes for former politicians. After Tuesday night's virtual tie in the Iowa caucus, the Pennsylvanian spoke eloquently about his immigrant grandfather working for decades in the Pennsylvania coal fields and his massive hands; the grandson probably won't have that problem. Losing an election in 2006 allowed Santorum to become a poster child for how ex-pols quickly and easily cash in in America, as a lawyer-rainmaker and joining a "think tank" (that for a time was called America's Enemies) and as an analyst for the Fox News Channel and as a board member for Universal Health Services, an ethically challenged company where executives had supported his Senate campaigns. The New York Times' Gail Collins noted that Santorum had earned $970,000 in 2010 despite seeming sort of unemployed.

    January 15, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. joey

    Santorum isn't above big government-funded boondoggles - when they're linked to his allies and campaign contributors. Consider the type of project that the Tea Party loves to hate, a $750 million energy plant in Schuylkill County, Pa., that was to convert coal to liquids but needed massive subsidies. Santorum boasted of his rule in securing an $100 million federal loan for the project - which had hired Pennsylvania's top Republican Party power broker of the 2000s, Bob Asher, as a lobbyist and paid him at least $900,000. Despite Santorum's efforts, the plant has not been built.

    January 15, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  15. nik green

    "Christian Conservative"? Thats a stretch... like "Communist Entrepreneur". Only in America!

    January 15, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. joey

    Santorum has frequently insisted that his political values are guided by his religious values, and that John F. Kennedy's famous 1960 speech describing a separtion between the two had done "much harm" in America. But despite inviting such scrutiny, there's been little discussion of Santorum's ties to ultra-conservative movements within the Roman Catholic Church Santorum's comments about JFK were made in Rome in 2002 when he spoke at a 100th birthday event for Jose Maria Escrivade Balaguer, founder of the secretive group within the church known as Opus Dei. Although Santorum says he is not a member of Opus Dei - which has been criticized by some for alleged cult-like qualities and ties to ultra-conservative regimes around the world - he did receive written permission to attend the ultra-conservative St. Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, Va., where Mass is still conducted in Latin and a long-time priest and many parishioners are members of Opus Dei, mingling with political conservatives like Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and former FBI director Louis Freeh.

    January 15, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. joey

    The defender of family values was also slavish in his devotion to a large American corporate behemoth, Wal-Mart: In the wake of the report about Santorum's travel in the Wal-Mart corporate jet, I counted the many ways that Santorum had done the bidding of the world's largest retailer in the Senate, including battling to limit any increases in the minimum wage and seeking to make changes in overtime rules that woulld benefit the company and hurt its blue-collar workforce, tort reform to limit lawsuits against what is said to be the world's most-sued company, and changes in charitable giving laws and of course eliminating the estate tax that would benefit the billionaire heirs of Sam Walton.

    January 15, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  18. joey

    Santorum had no problem with big government if it was supporting his campaign contributors in Big Pharma.It's little wonder that Santorum ultimately supported Medicare Part D, a prescription drug plan for the elderly that has added hundreds of billions of dollars to the federal deficit and was drafted in such a way to best help pharmaceutical companies maximize profits from all the unbridled spending. When Santorum was defeated for a third term in 2006, an internal memo at the drug giant GlaxoSmithKline said his departure from Washington "creates a big hole that we need to fill.

    January 15, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. joey

    Washington's lobbyist culture - Santorum was soaking in it. The ex-Pennsylvania senator spent much of his final years in government trying to downplay and defend his involvement in the so-called "K Street Project," an effort created by GOP uber-lobbyist and tax-cutting fanatic Grover Norquist and future felon and House majority whip Tom DeLay. By all accounts, Santorum was the Senate's "point man" on the K Street Project and he met with Norquist - at least occasionally and perhaps frequently - to discuss the effort to sure that Republicans were landing well-paying jobs in lobbying firms that were seeking to then access and influence other Republicans.

    January 15, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. joey

    Santorum didn’t seem to be against government waste when it came to his family. During his years in the Senate, Santorum raised his family in northern Virginia and rarely if ever seemed to use the small house that he claimed as his legal residence, in a blue-collar Pittsburgh suburb called Penn Hills. So Pennsylvania voters were shocked when they found out the Penn Hills School District had paid out $72,000 for the home cyberschooling of five of Santorum’s kids, hundreds of miles away in a different state. The cash=strapped district was unsuccessful in its efforts to get any of its money back from Santorum.

    January 15, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. hypatia

    Let the dead baby jokes begin.

    January 15, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. joey

    “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.” – Santorum, night of the Iowa caucuses

    "I didn't say black people. I started to say word and kind of went 'bleurgh' and mixed my thoughts. I started to say one word and came up with a different word and moved on." – Santorum, the next day

    January 15, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. The Left Wing

    I think this comes too late and Santorum isn't likely to stop Romney now. It should, however, drag things out a little longer. As an American I'd like to see the Republican Party get its act back together so general elections actually have candidates from both major parties that are sensible people. In my opinion, the only sensible Republican candidate this year is Huntsman. I couldn't vote for him vs. Obama, but at least he isn't off the deep end. Since there is almost no chance Huntsman will be nominated, I have to view the election from my partisan point of view as a liberal. From that point of view, the evangelicals backing Santorum is great news. Why? Because this will further weaken the Republican candidate in the general election. If Republicans continue to not have their act together and put up candidates that aren't sensible, then the general public needs to know about them. If Romney and Santorum wage war on each other all their faults will be exposed. Now, most of these faults are already known to many but it takes a lot of exposure to for the entire electorate to see them. The extended battle should help.

    January 15, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. Wowsors

    If Santorum gets the nomination instead of Romney (who will also lose) it will be the biggest landslide ever for Obama. No one wants some zealot to be in charge of this country except for Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin.

    January 15, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. andy

    Republicans who rely on their minister's dictate on how to vote should be shipped to Iran. There, they would get a good understanding of why living in a theocracy is a miserble existence.

    January 15, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
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