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Santorum could siphon off religious conservative support from GOP field
Rick Santorum announces his candidacy for president in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, on Monday.
June 6th, 2011
01:16 PM ET

Santorum could siphon off religious conservative support from GOP field

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) -  Rick Santorum appears to face long odds in the race for the White House, but he threatens to siphon off religious conservative support from better known GOP candidates like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty during the primary season.

Santorum, a former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, officially launched his presidential campaign on Monday.

Influential conservative Christian activists mention Santorum, businessman Herman Cain and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann – who hasn’t yet declared her candidacy - as Republican White House contenders who could attract major evangelical support, even if they’re long shots for the GOP nomination, let alone the White House.

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“I don’t see a candidate that has Huckabee’s skill in being able to communicate with evangelical language and style,” says Gary Marx, executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which focuses on issues important to religious conservatives.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister who rode evangelical support to a win in Iowa and a handful of other states in the 2008 primaries, has announced he’s not running for president this time around.

“Rick Santorum and Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann would really be the ones to potentially ride that wave,” said Marx, speaking of evangelical voters, who accounted for 60-percent of primary voters in Iowa and South Carolina during 2008's GOP primaries.

But Marx said one person could change all that: Sarah Palin, who would be expected to pick up huge support from religious conservatives should she enter the race.

The former Alaska governor has repeatedly spoken about her opposition to abortion since she was the Republicans’ vice presidential nominee in 2008 and has been an enthusiastic combatant in the culture wars.

Richard Land, who directs public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s biggest evangelical denomination, said that many conservative Christians recall Santorum as their chief ally in the Senate until 2006, when he lost his Pennsylvania seat.

Santorum, a Catholic, made fighting abortion rights and opposing gay marriage key parts of his Senate tenure. He also argued that faith had an important role to play in government and discussed his and his wife’s decision to home school their children, a practice supported by many evangelicals.

“Evangelicals have made him an honorary evangelical,” said Land. “He walked the walk. When no one else would carry our water in the Senate, he would. If evangelicals rally around him he has a shot because they love that guy.”

The leading Republican presidential contenders all face stumbling blocks with the party’s social conservative base.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, once supported abortion rights, while some evangelicals are wary of his Mormonism. Huntsman, who has not yet declared his candidacy, is also Mormon and angered religious conservatives by signing  a civil unions law for gay couples when he was governor of Utah.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s three marriage are a stumbling block to his attempts to connect to so-called values voters.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, meanwhile, is an evangelical whose anti-abortion stance is a key part of his message. But Pawlenty hails from outside the Southern evangelical tradition that has produced Republican politicians like Huckabee and George W. Bush.

Of course, Santorum comes from outside that tradition, too

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Politics • United States

soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. Justina Ailes

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    May 2, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  2. liberal christian

    These rich conservative christians seem to have forgotten that Jesus was both poor and liberal.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  3. YANKO

    http://WWW.WPRAY4U.COM

    June 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  4. jane richardson

    USA Medical / Business / Consumer Opt in Email Marketing Lists

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    June 9, 2011 at 3:24 am |
  5. Donny R

    Backers of Reverend Rick should make no mis-take. There's a darn good reason the voters of Pennsylvania kicked Santorum's religious based behind out on his ear. It was a great defeat for those who'd ignore the separation of church and state. That's why he's campaigning half way across the country...along way from home.
    However, Reverend Rick would make a great church president, no doubt.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  6. Reality

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (may it should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    (The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.)

    (Currently, a perfect birth control barrier system does not exist. Time to develop one! In the meantime, mono-ma-sturbation or mutual ma-sturbation are highly recommended for hete-rose-xuals who need a contraceptive. Abstinence is another best-solution but obviously the se-x drive typically vitiates this option although being biological would it not be able to develop a drug to temporarily eliminate said drive?)
    ============================================================================================

    June 8, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  7. Marie Kidman

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGSvqMBj-ig&w=640&h=390]
    )

    June 8, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  8. The Dude

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnUIapI3o2U&w=640&h=390]

    June 8, 2011 at 2:03 am |
  9. Bob in Pa

    Who cares, "Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty" , you just named the 4 most desirable canidates from the Democratic Party's point of view.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  10. FedUpRepublican

    “Santorum could siphon off religious conservative support from GOP field”

    If Bachmann decides to run, she and Santorum will split the fundamentalist vote since both are practically ideological twins. Either way, neither of them stands a chance of gaining enough traction during the primaries to be a real threat to those few candidates that have leaned slightly right –of-center in their past political lives. However, all of them, especially Santorum and Bachmann, will have a very hard road ahead if they continue with their divisive approach regarding social issues.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • Bob in Pa

      fundamentalist ?
      Come up with some better terms will you [please !

      June 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  11. Henry Miller

    Getting rid of the religious nuts would make the GOP a whole lot more attractive to a lot of us.

    June 7, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Donny R

      All religious nuts out of the Repub party? Would anyone be left?

      June 8, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  12. Case Settled

    You totally rock! Big hugs :D

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzetqYev_AI&w=640&h=390]

    June 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • DDanny1

      So it seems this fellow acknowledges that there is a vast universe, and that the earth wasn't created 6000 years ago. But to mirror his own argument (which is a more articulate version of O'Reilly's "Why is there a moon." augument) of why was the universe created, why would God create 100's of billions of stars, which we now know are orbited by TRILLIONS of planets but choose Earth to create Man, which is in his image.

      Could you imagine if we were to one day discover Dr. Suess's "Whoville", located in a "Universe" that exists on a speck of dust? And furthermore,we learned to actually communicate with them. What would we say if they believed that their God, (who's image they were created in) created us, and our entire Universe, just as an environment for their existence? And that while there could easily be existence without Humans, there WOULD NOT be existence without "Who's"? How many of us would say "there is as much chance of that as there is in creationism", how many would say "Those poor, ignorant Who's" and how many would yell "Heretics! KILL THEM".

      June 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.