Two leading social conservative groups back Romney
April 12th, 2012
11:02 AM ET
11 years ago

Two leading social conservative groups back Romney

Washington (CNN) - Two leading national anti-abortion organizations Thursday endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for president.

The moves may be the first indications of social conservatives coalescing around Romney after their first choice, Rick Santorum, dropped out of the race.

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In backing the former Massachusetts governor and all but certain GOP presidential nominee, both National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List highlighted what they called Romney's strong "pro-life" positions and criticized President Barack Obama for what they call a "pro-abortion agenda."

"On pro-life issues, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama provide a stark contrast. As the country's most pro-abortion president, Barack Obama has pursued a radical pro-abortion agenda," said National Right to Life President Carol Tobias. "It is now time for pro-life Americans to unite behind Mitt Romney. For the sake of unborn children, the disabled, and the elderly, we must win."

The National Right to Life Committee is the nation's oldest and largest anti-abortion organization, with affiliates in all 50 states and over 3,000 local chapters.

The official backing from both groups comes two days after Rick Santorum suspended his bid for the GOP presidential nomination. In a statement Tuesday, the SBA List praised the former senator from Pennsylvania, who enjoyed strong backing from social conservative voters, but the statement didn't mention Romney.

The group's board of directors Wednesday night voted unanimously to endorse Romney and says they'll spend up to $12 million to try and energize social conservative voters in battleground states.

"Now is the time to unite behind Governor Romney in order to defeat the most ideologically pro-abortion president in our nation's history," said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser," in a statement Thursday. "The SBA List is proud to endorse Governor Romney and plans to spend $10 to $12 million in senate and presidential battleground states mobilizing pro-life voters to ensure victory."

In their statement, the group highlighted Romney's pledge to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood and his support for legislation "to ban abortions based on fetal pain, and appoint only constitutionalist judges to the federal bench."

They also mentioned Romney's commitment to select a "pro-life" running mate.

"The difference between Governor Romney and President Obama couldn't be clearer, which is why our Board of Directors voted unanimously to get behind him," said Jane Abraham, Chairman of the SBA List Board of Directors. "It is the responsibility of all pro-life voters to now unite behind Governor Romney. Together we can put a pro-life leader in the White House."

The SBA List touts itself as a nationwide network of more than 365,000 members dedicated to "mobilizing, advancing, and representing pro-life women in politics."

The backing of Romney by SBA List and National Right to Life comes one day after another social conservative group, the National Organization for Marriage, endorsed the former Massachusetts governor, who's making his second bid for the White House.

The SBA List's endorsement was first reported by Politico.

Exit polls indicate that Romney struggled courting social conservative voters, who are a crucial part of the GOP base, during the primaries and caucuses. Such voters were the backbone of Santorum's campaign. They flocked to him for his longtime stance against abortion rights and same-sex marriage, and for his personal story of being a devout Catholic who home-schooled his seven children.

Thanks to their support, the former senator from Pennsylvania went from a long shot last year to the top of the pack amongst the Republican contenders in February. According to exit polls, Santorum won in states where self-described born-again Christians made up a majority of the GOP primary electorate.

With Santorum gone, the big question is whether social conservatives will now support Romney - or if they'll sit out the presidential election come November and concentrate their efforts down ballot in the Senate and House races.

In an interview with CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council Action, another leading social conservative group, said that conservative activists are so unenthusiastic about Romney that many are likely to turn their grassroots efforts away from the presidential race and towards Congress - specifically putting the Senate in Republican hands.

"It's difficult for us to back a candidate our constituents don't believe in and aren't excited about," Perkins said in a telephone interview Tuesday, speaking about Romney.

Perkins also told Bash that the consensus was to turn their "emphasis" to campaigns for Congress rather than campaign for Romney.

And Steve Scheffler, a longtime social conservative activist in the battleground state of Iowa, tells Bash that Romney turned down invitations to two presidential forums last year put on by Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, the group Scheffler heads.

Scheffler said Romney has done "absolutely nothing" to reach out to the base, which he called a huge mistake. "I don't think the Romney campaign has any room for error" in the general election.

Evangelical activist Michael Farris was not exactly surprised that Rick Santorum suspended his campaign on Tuesday. But that doesn't mean that Farris, a longtime political organizer, knows what he's supposed to do now.

"Right now my choice is to sit on my hands and do nothing or to actively try to find some alternative" to Mitt Romney, Farris told Religion Editor Dan Gilgoff, soon after Santorum's announcement.

"Some of us just have a hard time supporting a person who said he was going to be more liberal on gay rights than Ted Kennedy," said Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, referring to remarks Romney made in a 1994 letter, during his unsuccessful Senate bid to try and unseat Kennedy.

Gilgoff says that Farris' reaction is "a stark emblem of the disappointment among religious conservatives over Santorum's announcement, and a reminder that Romney's enthusiasm deficit among the conservative evangelicals who form the GOP's base hasn't gone away."

But in an editorial board meeting with CNN Wednesday, the Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Land had a different perspective.

"I think that Romney will get the support of most social conservatives and the enthusiastic support of most of them unless he drives them away – unless he picks a non-social conservative running mate, he doesn't talk about our issues or gives any indication he's going to soft pedal our issues when it comes to places of influence in a Romney administration," said Land.

And CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein says that in the end, social conservatives will close ranks around Romney.

"Mitt Romney will do fine among evangelical Christian voters who are very conservative on social and role of government issues, and he will probably win over 90% of Republican voters in the end mostly because whatever they think about Romney, they know they don't want Barack Obama in the White House for another term."

"This is now a team sport. Everyone knows what team they are on, and the vast majority support their team," adds Brownstein, editorial director at National Journal.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • SBA
soundoff (41 Responses)

    With the gender gap problems Wilard is having, an endorsement from the The Susan B. Anthony List isn't great after the war they launched against women.

    April 12, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. Wake up people

    How is President Obama pro abortion? Weren't abortions legalized many years ago? And shouldn't it be a womans choice what to do with her own body??? And they are screaming at the top of their lungs about the dems trying to control peoples lives, but look who is actually doing it?? Come on people, wake the he!! up!

    OBAMA 2012!

    April 12, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. Qi

    I lkie what Romney said about "white horse riding in to Washington" Not sure what it means, but I like it....

    April 12, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Two groups who fail to follow the law of the land endorse Mittens. I think we know why.

    April 12, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Agendas? The only people talking about pro-Life and pro-Abortion agendas, and lobbying for legislation to change the status quo, are those on the extreme right wing. These radical right wing groups are trying to mask the fact that they have a radical legislative agenda by drawing attention away from themselves. Don't be fooled by their rhetoric.

    April 12, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  6. Gary

    Romney's coming loss will go down as the worst defeat in presidential election history. I have voted in 9 presidential election and Romney is by far the worst candidate either party has ever put forward. Zero credability.

    April 12, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. vic , nashville ,tn

    Aha sold out , wake up social conservative watch the following on You Tube
    “I will preserve and protect women rights chose ………” Mitt Romney on meet the press in 2002

    April 12, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  8. Anderson

    Obama think a woman can make their own chose about their own body and for Susan b Anthony, they just need someone, anyone, to donate to their organization since so many of us has stopped. "We do not forget"

    April 12, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. gr8usa

    I think the SBA group should learn more about their namesake. Here is my favorite Susan B Anthony quote, "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

    April 12, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. Sniffit

    "Two leading national anti-abortion organizations Thursday endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for president."

    Soooo, when is the Changeling going to denounce these endorsements to show the women of this country that he's not trying to become the 4 star general in the GOP/Teatrolls' holy crusade to attenuate women's reproductive freedom?

    April 12, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. gr8usa

    Social conservatives, are you 100% sure Mitt won't have ANOTHER change of heart? Yeah, I didn't think so. Good luck trusting the man who will say whatever needs to be said to become the most powerful man in the world.

    April 12, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. Peter

    Should we really be surprised? Who expected these racist radicals to support Obama?

    April 12, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Al-NY,NY

    ...and the endorsement of these two radical groups is a GOOD thing?? Sorry Mittens but these are two more endorsements you will wish you never got.

    April 12, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Suddenly, being against radical right wing organizations from forcing radical legislation and right wing social engineering down our thoats is a "pro-abortion agenda". These groups are fighting over settled law. We have spent thousands and millions of tax dollars resolving these issues in decades long gone past, and now they want to refight these battles all over again.

    April 12, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. dreamer96

    Any body attending a Catholic Church service, or any Church service, can look around and see the average family size...What is it at your church?...3 or 4 children..the Catholic's use to have many kids, families of 8 or more, 10 was not what happened...The Pill and birth control happened...

    April 12, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. izandro

    stop the presses.....they aren't gonna support obama???? shocker!!!!

    April 12, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. sherms

    C'mon people...... Our exponentially increasing debt is devouring our economy... Because of the current inexperienced US president no other than Oh Bahma.....

    April 12, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. JOHN

    Folks need to come to the conclusion Republicans are hypocrites.Republicans don't believed the President is Christian, but they are willing to accept a Mormon Mitt Romney will say and do anything to buy or cheat his way to the White House. At lease Rick Santorm was true to the party Mitt is a lair, bu yet still l they are ready to elect him. This remain of the Iraq war. Republicans knew their were no Weapons of Mass Destruction, and they force Colin Power to lied just to to war. They are doing it again with Mitt. Scary!

    April 12, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. Sorensen

    Social conservatives, evangelicals and other assorted bible-bangers with or without teeth, you should be aware,
    that Romney is only "pro-life" because his advisors think that that is the way to go. Romney has no opinions about
    anything. Only what seems to be the most advantageous for his chances to win an election. He is also a mormon, so
    he really does not give any of you many chances of going to "heaven"! Good luck with that.

    April 12, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  20. DC from NJ

    Yeah, yeah, yeah...what a surprise. Sorry Mitt; nothing can save you from certain defeat. The last thing this country needs right now is a hypocritical, two-faced, rich boy who panders to everyone and has never had a consistent position on anything. Obama will tear you to ribbons in the debates, and in the election itself. It's back to the boardroom for you....

    April 12, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. nookster

    Just about all politicians are liar's, sellouts and manipulators. But I don't think I've ever seen one running for president as obviously so as Romney. He's just repulsively fake.

    April 12, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  22. Chuck D

    Romney was meant to lose. The Banking families behind the private Federal Reserve have spoken. Obama will be selected for president by the bankers. He will continue to dismantle the Constitution and start wars in preparation for the New world Order dictatorship. Martial law is coming! The Rockefellers laugh at your ignorance.

    April 12, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  23. Dennis Michael Maloney

    The president is not the most proabortion president ever, as a good Harvard trained lawyer and veteran constitutional law professor of the University of Chicago he aptly knows and ably defends RoevWade regarding when the government may reasonably protectively intervene. Judicial legislation hailed by some. But remember that Justice Douglas pointed out that a woman's or anyone's right to "privacy" while not explicitly stated in the entire constitution is a prenumbra of other rights emenating from the 1st, 4th, 14th amendments and other rights. If Mr. Romney gets elected our right to privacy will go down the road to being eventually eviscerated.

    April 12, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  24. nilla

    How quickly people forget the Etch-a-Sketch!

    April 12, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  25. nookster

    Romney? Mr. Plastic. The guy would sell his mom on the corner of bourbon st. to get elected.

    April 12, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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