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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. JOE

    HOPE HE TAKES SARAH PALIN'S BUS TOUR ACROSS AMERICA. THAT IS OVER A CLIFF.

    June 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  2. NewsJunkie

    This guy should save his money to take care of those 7 kids that he has.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  3. Ahab

    Conservatism is a cult. Conservative voters need to be deprogrammed.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • ChristianC

      You would have done quite well under the Third Reich, circa 1933-1945.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Mavent

      ChristianC, you appear to be one of the most ignorant people to ever post to this board. And that's saying something.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • MM101

      Right wing politics at its most extreme: Fascism?

      Please, you aren't helping your case posting things like this...

      June 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • truth2power

      It has become painfully obvious that todays so called conservatives and conservative movement has been infected by the disease of extremism.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "Conservatism is a cult."

      Ok..by the simple definition...a cult is a breakaway from a larger and older group. Exactly what did Conservatism break away from?

      June 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Huh?

      funny the definition of cult is defined as

      noun
      1.
      a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
      2.
      an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
      3.
      the object of such devotion.

      Where'd you get your definition?

      June 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Huh
      The same place that creationists get their definition of "theory".

      June 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Oso

      I had a good laugh at that, Doc. Thx. 😀

      June 6, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Huh, Doc and Oso Law- I am sorry that you thought my definition was meant to be THE definition. Since this is a thread about religious groups...one usually hears about "cults" when they have broken away from a larger organized group yes? Like the Branch Davidians were called a cult and broke away from another group. It is good to knwo you all can smile so easily...those that believe they are intelligent smile all too easily.

      But I find it odd that you didn't get onto the orginial poster about how he used the term. Guess you are all hypocrites. Oh well.

      June 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Doc-"The same place that creationists get their definition of "theory"."

      Did you have a point here? Or did you just want to read something you wrote?

      June 6, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • ahhh

      Lycidas must be pms-ing today. LOL!

      June 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @ahhh- You must be hitting on your Flintstone Vitamins too much. Listen to your mommy and don't eat them all.

      June 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • ahhh

      You might want to take some of those vitamins since you're lacking in the humour department.

      June 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Lycidas

      ahhh- I'm sorry...did I cut your thin skin a little? Go have mommy put a cartoon bandaid on and she'll make it all better...lol

      June 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • ahhh

      I don't have a mommy never did, but you should think about getting laid it might help your mood. 😉

      June 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Hmm..that makes sense. There are many dirt grubbing no brain worms out there like you. Seems you have their mentality 😉

      June 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • ahhh

      "There are many dirt grubbing no brain worms out there like you. Seems you have their mentality"

      So being an orphan makes you equate it to a worm. Well, your parents did a lousy job at teaching you manners. Now go get laid before you shame your parents more.

      June 6, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Sorry ahhh, I am just a bi*tch and have severe self esteem issues.

      June 6, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Lycidas

      How cute..."ahhh" has evolved right before our eyes. First as a little thin skinned child, then to a junior high level insulter. Now he is trying to emulate me. So precious....goof boy "ahhh". Your momma must be sooo proud. 😉

      June 6, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Lycidas
      I was offering what is in known in colloquial terms as a "joke".
      The correlation between your usage of the term "cult" and a creationists use of the term "theory" is that they both rely on the definition as intended by more colloquial uses of the words.
      When engaged in discussions where a pretense of scientific knowledge is offered, such as in debates about Darwinian evolution, vernacular meanings should be eschewed in favour of proper, textbook definitions in order to avoid semantic arguments.
      Given that you established your intended definition of "cult" in the body of your post, I should not have, in good conscience, belittled you point with sarcasm.
      As I have offended your sensibilities enough to provoke an ad hominem rebuttal, I apologize.
      No direct offense to you was intended.
      Your salvo was well-directed, however. I am obviously a narcissist because, despite everything, I still think it's a smegging funny line.

      June 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Oso

      Wow, Lycidas, you are not on top of your game today. Do you have a hangover or something?
      All I did was laugh at Doc's joke. I wasn't laughing at you at all – at least, not until you starting doing ad hominem attacks like a little kid. Then I am still not laughing but only looking sadly at your obvious inability to keep things in perspective.
      When you say something funny I promise to laugh at it if I can.

      June 6, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Sorry Doc, it's hard to tell on these threads who is being serious, joking or just insulting sometimes. And there isn't anything too wrong with being narcissist on occasion for yourself. Even if it only a smegging funny of a line. 😉

      June 6, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Oso- Sorry that you have not been entertained enough. I'm sure you laughed quite a bit at Doc's joke. Are you faimiliar with an old Warner Bros cartoon where there was a big dog (we'll call him Doc) was strutting around all the time? He had a yippy little runt of a friend (let's call him Oso shall we) and he laughed and agreed with his buddy on everything. Sound familiar? My...was that funny? It made me smile 🙂 Have a good night.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  4. JC

    One more foolish candidate!
    http://www.e-forwards.com/2011/05/rick-santorum-belongs-in-a-sanatorium/

    June 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  5. John Richardson

    Santorum is one of those rightwingers whose calculated appeals to the "base" (and Republicans have a very base base!) make them sound even stupider than they are, and they're all plenty stupid. It's amazing to think that this was once the party of Lincoln.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Ahab

      Conservatives opposed Lincoln then just as they would oppose him now.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  6. Jim B

    He is EVERYTHING that is wrong with the GOP. No way will he even make it out of the starting gate.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  7. Doc Vestibule

    Santorum is a bigoted kook.
    He alligned himself with the Discovery Insti.tute and tried to wedge what became known as the "Santorum Amendment" into the No Child Left Behind educational act, forcing schools to teach teh unscientific and thoroughly debunked concept of intelligent design. (debunked in court case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District)

    He has conflated ho.mose.xuality with pedophilia, calling Catholic Priests who abuse young boys as beign engaged in "a basic ho.mose.xual relationship".
    He then went on the blame liberals for the actions of those priests, stating "it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm."

    For the love of anything sacred, keep this man away from the White House!

    June 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • gtaliente

      Let me guess Doc? You're a witch doctor right?

      June 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • gerald

      Just what do you think is sacred doc? ho mo se xu al ity? It's an abomination.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • No

      gerald your the abomination for holding onto your prejudice.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Gerald..any reason that ho-mo se-x is an abomination or is just a thing you have to believe in order to remain in the CC?

      June 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @gtaliente
      Which Doctor? Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang, walla walla, bing bang

      @Gerald
      I'm curious – do you believe a.nal s.ex between husband and wife is an abomination? How about oral?

      I believe people have deemed all sorts of things sacred – meaning "set aside for the worship of a deity".
      As one who rejects the supernatural, I don't believe that totems or talismans are magical, but I recognize that all sorts of people all throughout history have held such objects dear.
      Selling Holy Relics (like the dismembered body parts of a Saint) used to be quite a lucrative racket!

      June 6, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Oso

      gerald, if ho.mose.xuality is an abomination, why does your Pope protect the pedo-priests? Why is there such a willingness in your Catholic Church to protect them?
      Is gay pedophilia and child molestation somehow not included in your definition of what is abomination?
      Is is only when adults do their nasty, dirty, s-exual things?
      Really, gerald, you need to quit defending the Pope. He would sell you into gay slavery without a single qualm if he thought it would help him avoid prosecution.

      June 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  8. Brandon

    The problem with the GOP primary is that it is designed to select the candidate least likely to appeal to the majority of independents.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • RAWoD

      No duh

      June 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  9. David

    Are there any GOP candidates that are not actually frightening? The scary part is one of these people has to get the nomination and therefore has a chance to become the President of the United States. I am not an Obama sheep and know there there have been plenty of cons to go with the pros but seriously folks...seriously.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • ChristianC

      "Isn't Obama's tenure an ongoing catastrophy for these United States? Are there any potential liberal candidates that are not actually frightening? The scary part is that Obama may remain President of the United States or may be replaced by one like minded admirer of the failed socialistic fantasy known as the Soviet Union. I am not an GOP fan and but seriously folks...seriously".

      June 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      To ChristianC...can you explain to me your connection, in detail, of President Obama and the Soviet Union? That sounds a little extremist and outlandish to me. I suppose you also think he's Muslim? And a terrorist? And not born in the U.S.? And that there is a big scary monster under your bed?

      June 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • ChristianC

      To Not All Docs Play Golf: if you are not able to see the connection, no amount of explanation will help you..

      June 6, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • MM101

      ChristianC is just blurting out mindless banter. They have no idea about the differences between Communism, Facism, Left vs Right politics, economics, history, nor economic effects of Presidential decisions.

      June 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  10. Fordham Jock

    Yet another in the long list of non-viable candidates. He's got no money, (to run a campaign) and no real solutions, beyond the "We must fight for freedom cr-p". Bla bla bla.
    Go look at his history. Politics to him is a "testosterone based" game of "who's gong to win", and "who's going to loose". Did he really think we were going to forget he ever said all that stuff ?
    How many who lost their last election made it to winning the presidency ? I can think of one.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • ChristianC

      Richard Nixon.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  11. Artist

    Scary........
    .
    "A controversy arose following Santorum's statements about hom ose xua lity in an interview with the Associated Press that was published on April 20, 2003. In response to a question about how to prevent se xu al abuse of children by priests, Santorum said the priests were engaged in "a basic hom o se xu al relationship" , and went on to say that he had "[...] no problem with hom ose xu ality. I have a problem with hom ose x ual acts"; that the right to privacy, as detailed in Griswold v. Connecticut, "doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Const i tution"

    June 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  12. Chedar

    Holy $h1t! This "froty mix" Santorum is delusional. No way will he ever make it to even get invited to a republican debate.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  13. lindamai

    So a guy who has no need for the public school system wants to tell us all what we're doing wrong. A guy who is a far right winger of Bible verses, wants to show his religious moral superiority. I need more popcorn to get through through this GOP show. I think the GOP is so divided that it will not be possible to for a winner to appear – runnng is a waste of money (unless your Palin and you keep the excitement going. But she won't win either.)

    June 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • ChristianC

      "..unless your Palin.." instead of "..unless you are Palin.." and you are a product of the public school system? Hmm..

      June 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Faux Paws

      ....or "you're Palin"

      June 6, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Frogist

      @ChristianC: Or you could speak to lindamai's points? Picking on his/her grammar just seems petty and shows that you don't really have anything worthwhile to add to the conversation.
      @Faux Paws... you too?

      June 6, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Oso

      Frogist, I like your "et tu, Brutus" thing you got going there. Very shakespearian.
      🙂

      June 6, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Oso: I try... 😉

      June 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  14. Another Larry

    Did he really say Obama wrecked the economy? That's pretty insulting to those of us who still have our memories intact.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  15. SeanNJ

    If Santorum even registers a blip in early polling, I'll be a) shocked and b) moving to Canada.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • ChristianC

      Have a nice trip!

      June 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @SeanNJ
      Careful – we just elected a Conservative majority government!

      June 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  16. D

    To suggest that he'll siphon off voters is to imply that he's something other than a D-List candidate. Answer: no, he won't (especially if people Google him!)

    June 6, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • ScottK

      His face in this picture looks as if he just read the web definition of Santorum. And a Santorum siphon? Eeeewwww!!

      June 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  17. Jenna

    I don't get why the focus is on attracting the uber conservative right for Repubs. The majority of the country (Dem or Repub) is middle of the road so why the heck not focus on them? I personally think the media is manipulating the focus... but that's typical.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • conradshull

      CNN very actively manipulates the focus. It's plainly obvious that CNN is functioning as a high powered arm of the Obama campaign, therefore, the network is pushing hard to get an unelectable GOP candidate nominated.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  18. Patiat

    Santorum????? And HE'S supposed to energize the race and give people an alternative to Palin, Bachmann and the rest of the dog and pony show that's become the GOP primary fight? Ugh. The circus just grew by one clown.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • ChristianC

      The other one being Obama the abortionist.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Faux Paws

      When are these old MEN going to get over their OBSESSION with the reproductive functions of young women ?
      Creepy. Really creepy.

      June 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  19. krow101

    It's hard to knit together a bunch of 'one-issue-hate-based' voters ... who have little in common except the willingness to vote against their own best interests.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • ScottK

      All they have to do is focus on those main republican issues, you know, the fight against our country being taken over by poor brown non-Christians. They won't come right out and say it but that was exactly their message over the last two years, they just use code words like "community organizer" "Kenyan" & "muslim" to call the president a poor brown non-Christian, and that will be their message in the upcoming election. Scare the white anglo saxon protestants just like they used to back in the day with movies like "The Birth of a Nation". It's disgusting I know, but they use what works and if 33% of this country is prejudiced against poor brown non-Christians then thats the tack they will take.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  20. Dave

    CNN- Judging from how you had to disable the comments section on David Frum's article today (to protect Republicans) due to its universally anti-GOP reader reaction – I'd say you are proving to everyone that there's not much left of the GOP's shrinking base for Santorum to siphon off.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:31 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.