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February 8th, 2012
03:08 PM ET

10 reasons religious conservatives love Rick Santorum

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - For all the attention paid to the clout of fiscally focused tea party conservatives and of the primacy of jobs in the 2012 election, Rick Santorum’s trifecta victories Tuesday night are a good reminder of the powerful role religious conservatives play in the GOP. They fueled Santorum’s wins in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado - and his earlier victory in the Iowa caucuses.

But why, exactly, do religious conservatives love the former senator from Pennsylvania? There are obvious reasons - his advocacy against abortion and same-sex marriage, for instance - but plenty of less obvious ones, too.

Here’s my list. What would you add?

  1. Santorum’s a family man. “He’s got this big, vibrant family and he left the campaign trail last week to go back and be with his daughter in the hospital,” says Eli Bremer, chairman of Colorado's El Paso County Republican Party, centered around evangelical-heavy Colorado Springs. Santorum recently returned to Pennsylvania to respond to a health scare involving daughter Isabella - the youngest of his seven children - who suffers from a genetic disease. “I spent time with him last year, and he’s constantly thinking about his family,” Bremer says of Santorum. “It’s not just a political stunt.”

  1. He’s not averse to getting politically incorrect when donning culture warrior chain mail. “So if the baby’s toe is in you can’t kill the baby - how about if the baby’s foot is in?” he famously asked U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, in a 1999 debate over a rare, later term abortion procedure that anti-abortion groups call a "partial birth" abortion.

  1. Santorum’s a homeschooling dad. His wife, Karen, is homeschooling or has homeschooled their seven children, making them a poster family for a movement populated largely by evangelical Christians and other serious believers. “It matters because it shows he’s a real part of our movement rather than simply someone who is politically sympathetic,” says Michael Farris, an evangelical conservative who leads the Home School Legal Defense Association.

  1. He’s a devout cradle Catholic. As a kid in Pennsylvania, Santorum the altar boy would spend Sunday mornings pushing hospital patients in wheelchairs to Mass. As a U.S. senator, Santorum attended Mass at St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill each day before work. That piety gets respect with religious voters, regardless of affiliation. “Evangelicals have made him an honorary evangelical,” said Richard Land, public policy chief for the Southern Baptist Convention.

  1. Santorum’s not Mitt Romney. Millions of socially conservative voters still distrust the former Massachusetts governor on the hot button issues - abortion and same-sex marriage. Some, though not all, are put off by Romney’s Mormonism.

  1. Santorum’s not Newt Gingrich. Many social conservatives, particularly those of the female persuasion, continue to be turned off by Gingrich’s two failed marriages and his admissions of past marital infidelity.

  1. Santorum doesn’t just talk about opposing abortion, he’s legislated on it. As a senator, he was an architect of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. He pushed the ban even in the1990s, when Bill Clinton was in the White House and the legislation stood nary a chance of a presidential signature. “He walked the walk,” Land says. “When no one else would carry our water in the Senate, he would.”

  1. Ditto on same-sex marriage. Santorum sponsored a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage at a time when many Republicans lawmakers didn’t want to touch such a hot potato.

  1. Santorum’s big on compassionate conservatism. Though he gets the most ink for controversial stances on issues such as homosexuality, Santorum has also been a leading advocate for funding to fight AIDS in the Third World and has led conservative responses to poverty. “A lot of people have a hard time getting Rick Santorum because they’re used to a debate between liberalism and complete free-market approach and he’s not either of those things,” says Michael Gerson, a Washington Post columnist and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

    1. Santorum isn’t afraid to challenge science, questioning the theory of evolution and dismissing global warming as “a hoax.” The former senator “confirms (social conservatives’) view of science as being at odds with a Christian worldview,” tweets Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Grove City College, an evangelical Christian school in Pennsylvania.

CNN Belief Blog co-editor Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Politics • Rick Santorum

soundoff (2,587 Responses)
  1. JC

    I consider myself a moderate republican but if Santorum wins this I may be voting for an independent. This guy is way to far right for me and the republican party is getting way to radical for me. I understand the republican base is extremely right but that didn't help them in the last election. They need to wake up and realize the world is changing and the moderates are becoming the most important vote. I wish Ron Paul was doing better, he is a true republican in my eyes.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • MikeRavens71

      i agree.....Romney will not pander to this crowd.....that's why they dont want romney...........=Romney is a moderate republcian that hasn't injected his faith into politics.....Santorum has but if he is the nominee im voting Obama or staying home......santorum is a nutjob.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • DumpTheGOP

      SANTORUM IS A NUT CASE. WHAT MORE IS THERE TO SAY!!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • JC

      Seriously.. sometimes I wish there were a third party consisting of normal everyday people. Free of both radical right and left thinking. We would probably be in much better shape today.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Peter

      JC wrote: "Seriously.. sometimes I wish there were a third party consisting of normal everyday people. Free of both radical right and left thinking. We would probably be in much better shape today."

      I think it is inevitable, but not this year.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  2. BillyQuan

    Religion is poison

    February 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Andrew

      Hitler and Stalin thought the same.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Peter

      Hitler also had a German Shepard. So what?

      While I certainly would not BAN religious expression like those two, there is something to be said about the danger of religious extremism and the forcing of a particular set of religious beliefs on the population at large.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Andrew
      Sorry buddy, you fail.

      "We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out".
      The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, Oxford University Press, 1942

      “The fact that the Vatican is concluding a treaty with the new Germany means the acknowledgement of the National Socialist state by the Catholic Church. This treaty shows the whole world clearly and unequivocally that the assertion that National Socialism [Nazism] is hostile to religion is a lie.” Adolf Hitler, 22 July 1933

      February 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  3. DarkBronzePlant

    Funny; of all of those, I'd say #6 is the only reason to vote for him.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Andrew

      Yeah, as an uneducated liberal whose been brainwashed by his culture's media, yeah.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • pat

      Hey Andrew – "We report,You decide"

      February 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Peter

      Andrew: So what are you saying? It is OK to advocate the banning of birth control devices because of your own religious beliefs? And if you aren't disturbed by the combination of "home schooling" and "challenging science", then you are not paying attention.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • DarkBronzePlant

      Sorry Andrew, but I was responding directly to an ultra-conservative's post. Unless you were calling yourself a uneducated liberal; it's actually hard to tell from your post. But maybe that's just because I've been "brainwashed" into using proper grammar.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  4. Thegorgatron

    Most of these sound like reasons to hate Santorum.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • point45

      only to those wo are ignorrant...

      February 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  5. nbrown

    His wife has seven kids and she doesn't ship them off to school to give herself a mental break. I refuse to believe she isn't stressed. I can't vote for him because I don't like when people are overly religious and want to push their beliefs on everyone. He is completely against birth control and other things I believe in because not everyone woman wants to or can afford seven freakin children.

    Oh – did I fail to mention that by him basically losing the majority of the female vote (for various reasons) and the gay vote, that alone will cause him to lose against Obama. Unless he decided to flip flop like his boy Mittens.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  6. J.R.

    There are 0 reasons to love Santorum. And to the person who wrote this article, you belong in the U.S. anymore than he does. This anti-gay, anti-choice, bigoted candidate has NO PLACE anywhere near politics. The U.S. is all about the broadening and expansion of rights, not a Sharia-like theocracy of so-called "Christian" values. If you don't like Equality and us gays having the same rights as everyone else, then you have some serious issues of your own to deal with. We are not abnormal. We are not hated by God. And it's time for this hypocrisy of the religious right to be finished once and for all.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • nbrown

      Nice one J.R. I'm not gay – but you guys have the best parties and I love all of you. LOLOL

      Rock on!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Andrew

      You are clearly uneducated to not see this is CNNs way of not seeming totally biased towards liberals.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  7. pat

    #10 Religion was already doomed with the invention of the telescope.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

      Carbon dating is a little embarrassing too.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • pat

      Yeah, and DNA is good enough in court but try telling Santorum it was recently discovered that some modern humans carry neanderthal genes from back in the day when our ancestors were getting it on with the other human species.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  8. Drew

    Thos intellectuals with their fancy science and resoning, thinking that the world is older than 6,000 years and that we evolved over time. They also created the myth of global warming with their hocus pocus math and science. The bible, which was written by desert dwelling Israelites over 2,000 years ago, is clearly the most legitimate explanation to all our questions. Santorum 2012

    February 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • MikeRavens71

      stay away from the crack...global warming is not a hoax......damn you are dumb!!!.....lol

      February 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • J.R.

      The bible, my friend, is a gigantic, overrated hoax – written by men in an effort to control mankind. It was written in a time where there were all too many questions and practically no answers of logic and reason. If you would actually read the bible and not just go along with its bandwagon, you'd see for yourself how it's nothing but a pathetic gathering of hypocritical stories – each contradicting each other. That's the basis for your faith? No wonder you people are looney and can't get anything right.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • pat

      mike – I think he's just kidding.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • fred

      J.R.
      Please give me an example of what you find to be one hypocritical story after the next. Thanks

      February 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Augustine

      @Drew. I don't think they get your sarcasm.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • fred

      Mike
      Pat
      Global warming has been going on for 10,000+ years. The hoax is that man is responsible and republicans are villians and democrats will save us from the carbon producing oil giants that are responsible.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • nbrown

      Anyone on the EastCoast is not doubting Global Warming. We has only had one day of snow so far and Spring is next month. We don't even want to talk about all the crazy snow the are getting in the UK! So you may need to wake up and give that bible a rest. God didn't write that!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • pat

      fred – it took millions of years for the fossil fuel to form and 150 years to dig all of it up and burn it into the atmosphere.
      Of course It's caused by man.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • fred

      nbrown
      The BIble did write that as we approach the end of days there would be many natural unusual events. Hold onto your Dawkins bible and keep preaching satanic verses because your ruler is near.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • fred

      Pat
      Put on your thinking hat and take of your liberal shades. We have been in a period of global warming for 10,000+ years. Take a look at Niagara Falls all of which was covered by glacier long before man invented the auto. Think

      February 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • J.W

      Global warming isn't necessarily just a steady warming up of the entire world. It is more of a global climate change, which we definitely have seen.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • pat

      So Fred, remember acid rain? Man-made? Hoax?

      February 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • fred

      Pat – acid rain is a man created problem unlike the melting of glaciers over the past 10,000+ years

      @JW – certainly we have seen continued climate change but warming has been little different then that of prior periods. With warming climate change is the result. You can put a pot of water on the stove but it must reach a certain point before it begins to boil and you notice an abrupt change. That does not mean big bad oil that is hated by liberals is the cause.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Real America

      fred-

      Generally "global warming" does refer to a clear and recent warming trend beginning around the beginning of the 20th Century:

      http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/

      February 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • fred

      Real America\
      Ok, even if we define it as you say I note the trend line has been steady since 1880. Yes, it is warming but, world wide the average trend continues to move in the same pattern. Northern chage is significantly greater but overall the same steady increase.
      Since 1880 we have really been dumping CO2 into the air one would expect a change in the 10,000 year warming trend and no such change has happend.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  9. MikeRavens71

    santorum is always angry and always brings religion, abortion and birth control into the topics....he is obessed in bombing iran....real christian isn't he?.......the right wing are rejecting Romney a moderate because he is not a religious nut job like santorum,....and they say mormonism is bad??? lol

    February 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  10. RixR

    10 reasons NOT to love Rick Santorum, you should say. And Number 10 (as well as Number 7) is by far the most telling reason why we should avoid voting him in like the plague. I'd say the main reason to make Santorum the Republican candidate would be in order to ensure that Obama wins reelection.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Andrew

      It's 10 reasons for RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES to like Rick Santorum, not the rest of us.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  11. Just Me

    Wait, I thought we were trying to elect a President, not the Pope?

    February 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  12. rick santorumtwit... America's favorite frothy one

    I wonder if Santorum and Palin have ever exchanged their frothy mix with one another?

    February 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • point45

      Yuu liberals are really full of hatred. shame.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • rick santorumtwit... America's favorite frothy one

      point45...Speaking for myself, I despise anyone who tries to stick their nose in my bedroom. And it's always a right wing freak.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • J.R.

      No, Point45, it's you so-called Christians, who want to enforce your religion and it's hypocritical meaning, who are the haters. You are, in fact, responsible for the deaths of countless GLBT's who have been harassed, assaulted, murdered and driven to suicide. Their blood is on your hands.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • nbrown

      Ewwwww! I just had a nasty visual!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Peter

      Point 45: Get into a talk with Santorum about gays if you want to hear some hate.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  13. CJ

    10 reasons to loathe this thing:
    1 – Too many kids, overpopulation of the planet.
    2. Politically incorrect is often insulting to non white non male non christian fanatics.
    3. Homeschooling = religious obscurantism over society learning together and communal behavior.
    4. Since when was being Catholic a good thing for the world? I grew up Catholic... what a painful joke.
    and on and on...

    February 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Alex in NJ

      Personally, I do not support Santorum either, but you are clearly just as filled with hate as he is.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  14. Shawn William

    It is said that the Antichrist will come in the form of a man appearing to be devout and spouting scripture.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • kro513

      That's hot!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  15. rex edie

    there are too many unenlightend morons running the show..... at this rate mankind will never evolve much further that apes...
    santorum is a typical ape....

    February 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  16. batard

    Theocrat.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  17. wise woman

    So glad that none of those who have posted so far are friends of mine. They certainly have hard hearts and are not even open to actually hearing what Santorum has to say. Keep listening to your own "logic" and you'll end up with another disaster in the White House like Obama who has not done one single memorable thing for this country since he has been in office. Three years is plenty of times to prove yourself, so where is the proof? No jobs. Bigger national debt than we have EVER had in our history, and a cabinet that is so ignorant they cannot make a single decision that is working.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Lauren

      Seriously? Not *one* memorable thing? The auto bailout? Killing Osama Bin Laden? None of that rings a bell at all? I mean you could say you don't agree with his policies or that you think he's leading the country in the wrong direction, but come on. Not one memorable thing? Either you have the memory of a potato or you have the critical thinking skills of one. How's that for "logic"?

      February 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Peter

      Sorry. He wants the USA (NOT NATO) to attack Iran right now. This alone will cost us far more than whatever economic savings he might initiate. Also: His mix of religion and politics is creepy. He is WAY out of the mainstream.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Obama has done nothing memorable?
      He ended the War in Afghanistan, is responsible for unprecedented coordination across federal government agencies to combat violence against women, replealed Don't Ask/Don't Tell, Increased Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, got 47 nations at US nuke summit to agree to four years of non-proliferation efforts, Returned the rights of Americans to visit and assist their families in Cuba, Cut salaries of senior White House aides, Made $20 Billion in budget cuts, shrank the federal deficit 8% year on year, created 6.682,370 jobs under the Recovery Act Between January 1 — March 31,2010, Manufacturing grew by most since 2004, U.S. GDP up 3.2% in first quarter, dropped the jobless rate in 34 states.
      He was awarded 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
      He has caught more Taliban Leaders in one month than Bush/Cheney did in six years....

      February 9, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Daniel

      We were losing 750,000 jobs a month when Obama came into office. Now we're gaining about 200,000 a month. Not sure why you think he hasn't created jobs...

      February 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  18. Adriana Birmingham, Al

    And the number one reason to love Santorum...... He can't beat Obama!!

    February 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  19. Vince

    All of these are the same resons Democrats love him....hope he gets the nomination!

    February 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  20. filthburger

    11. he's funny like a clown.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:03 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.