home
RSS
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. Weasley

    Mr. Gilgoff says, "victories Tuesday night are a good reminder of the powerful role religious conservatives play in the GOP."

    Wrong. Tuesday night's victories are a reminder of the simple minded measure used to qualify a politician in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  2. tim

    1) He's a Washington insider 2) He loves earmarks 3) He loves wasting money on the military 4) He's an IsraelFirster 5) He lost Senate race by 12 -15% 6) He wants to put his religion on everyone else 7) He was a big spending Republican in the Senate during the disastrous Bush years

    February 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  3. This story is Crap !

    Sanitarium would be awful ! He would take us back to the stone ages ! No WAY , Not Now , Not Ever !

    February 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  4. Switters

    I lived in Pennsylvania and cast one of the votes that threw this 'papist theocrat' out of office

    February 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  5. 2tired2care

    I believe god told Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann to run for president. Proof that god has a sense of humor.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  6. Peter

    Now I have 10 reasons to hate Santorum. That hypocritical, hate-mongering moron.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  7. carly

    and the fact that Santorum is anti-women's rights, anti-science are good things?

    February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  8. Harry Baxter

    The fact that he's not Romney or Gingrich is reason enough to at least admire him. However, the fact that he's a conservative nutcase trumps everything else.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  9. ScottS

    I hope and pray he wins the primary. Then reason will prevail in he General Election...

    Home schooling – what an awful thing to do to a child! Send this nutcase back to school himself...

    February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  10. Jim

    So basically we'd be voting for a religion and not a political candidate. Man that's scary...

    February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  11. Switters

    NEVER ONCE has Santorum spoken out about the years and years of child abuse by the pedophile priests in his church – he is indeed – a 'good Catholic'.......

    February 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  12. TexanMe

    So why is CNN putting this "laying on hands" photo yet did not ever show Obama "laying on hands" during last elections.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  13. Mike in Austin

    #10 is exactly the biggest reason to fear Santorum. 'Science is at odds with a Christian worldview' is ludicrous. Many Christians are scientists, and you can't reject science just because it presents truths that you find disagreeable. Without science, I wouldn't be writing this, and you wouldn't be reading this.

    As a matter of fact, let's replace the word 'science' with what it really is, a body of knowledge drawn from logical conclusions based on observed facts. "Logic is at odds with a Christian worldview." Yes it is, when you're on the nuttier fringes of Christianity.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Eric

      I agree – #10 is the exact reason why I am not going to cast my vote for him. That's nuts.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Don

      Agreed. Logic/science isn't at odds with Christianity but sometimes what passes for science really isn't.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  14. Andrew

    What is hateful about thinking marriage is not the same if its not between a man and a women. What is hateful about opposing killing a fetus. You people want to make it sound like hate to make your agenda, more rights for women etc. Really not one liberal ever thought about the potential fathers that were not allowed to be fathers by their aborting women. But then again, when they don't want an abortion, they will make you pay. Where's the accountability. That's right, liberals abhor making women take accountability for their actions. Then call the system patriarchal.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • clsjey

      Men also need to take accountability for their actions. It takes two, ya know. Keep it zipped, fellas.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • max

      whats hateful is that you want to make your choice everyones choice....

      February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Joe

      It's hateful to give one segment of the population fewer rights than another based solely on a fact of their birth.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Mickey

      That right Andrew. Women should be accountable.......to there own bodies without barriers to choose. Remember this is Amereica.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Hypatia

      Believe whatever crazy mythology you want but keep your beliefs out of my government.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  15. Joop Kaashoek

    If you want the Inquisition back then Rick will be a great choice.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  16. djhbandit

    These ten reasons are all very nice, but have nothing to do with the most pressing issue of the day...Fixing the Economy! What can Rick Santorum do for the economy? What has he done in the past? Don't be fooled, none of these issues will seem as important as the economy, if the US economy collapses under the weight of its own debt.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Cammy

      I agree, sir.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  17. Ha Ha !

    The author of this story must be on crack !

    February 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • lisbeth

      Bingo!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  18. Richard Hurtz

    Will you now write about the 20 reasons this hypocritial jerk can not win in a general election? He lost his senate seat PA by a RECORD margin to Casey. These extremist views he is spouting may play well in Republican Primary but go against the opinions of the vast majority of Americans. Obama would beat Santorum much worse than he beat McCain.

    Mormon Mitt is the only hope the Republicans have and even he is fading fast....

    February 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  19. notbobslc

    It strikes me that this is just more GOP candidate musical chairs, they pick a different candidate every week to promote as the one – yet the only honest candidate in the race on either side of the isle is Ron paul who is constantly ignored and rejected by the GOP.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  20. milo

    how can you list reasons to 'love' this guy when he hates gay people? He is a scary waste of a human being. He hates gays. Didn't Hitler hate jews? Look what happened.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Kim

      Just because you don't agree with someone lifestyle does not mean you hate them.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
Advertisement
About this blog

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.