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. DonInLA

    I am diametrically opposed to Rick Santorum. Not only do I not love him, I feel he is a danger to this country. And, oddly enough, if I didn't already have those views, this presumably positive article would have scared me off of him.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  2. zach

    I'm a Ron Paul Republican and will pretty much be voting for him no matter what...unless Santorum is the nominee then I'll be voting for Obama. I appreciate that he thinks about his family and he's really religious, but the fact that he thinks there is no right to privacy and wants to legislate morality scares the crap out of me.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • MASTRODAMUS

      Or you can write in Ron Paul if your state allows it. Either way, Ron Paul gets my vote. I agree with you, Santorum scares me more than Obummer does. Santorum would probably have a law passed that would force citizens to be in the pews on Sunday, even if you don't believe that is the correct day of worship.

      On a side note, have you googled the definition of Santorum? I wouldn't want a president where every time I said his name the thought of what it meant came to mind.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  3. elizabennet

    Huh. Sooo, what about the reasons why he could run the country? What about his economic plan, his foreign policy credentials, his track record on government spending, his plan to help the poor, his plan to help the unemployed? Nothing. POLITICIANS STAY OUT OF MY PRIVATE LIFE, OUT OF MY BEDROOM, SHUT UP AND RUN THE COUNTRY.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  4. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    Many of the items listed above put him out of touch with the vast majority of Americans, and most certainly with any intelligent ones. We Dems are just loving seeing all the Repuke candidates go after one another. The longer the Repuke party stays splintered, the better it is for us Dems. Go, Obama/Biden 2012!

    February 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Teeph

      Ha! Leonore called the Republicans "Repukes!" Get it? You know, "puke" as in "vomit." Ah-hahahahahahahahahahaha! That's clever! Because she took the name of the political party that all we intelligent people disagree with, and slightly changed it to make it even MORE distasteful than it was by itself. Oh, c'est drole!

      February 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  5. Don Herman

    Judging by these comments, it ain't lookin' good for Ricky.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  6. Andrew

    The fact that this article exists is an insult to the intelligence of our citizens. This is the only developed country in the world where support for a ban on gay marriage is viewed positively by an editor at a mainstream news source. Shame on you, Gilgoff.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • I stand opposed

      Let's be clear however, that the fact that different opinions can be expressed in a mainstream news source is also what make's this nation what it is. They have articles bashing Santorum and some supporting, as with Obama and other. They have some supporting and other's disavowing gay unions. It's only right that all views are expressed, even if you don't support them. If anything, one opinion and one view expressed in media is what creates a controlled and ignorant society.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Jay

      r u kidding? what about all the countries that hang them like Iran where their leader says "we don't have any!". And you think it's bad here in the USA. Get over it, the majority do not support gay marriage because nobody was ever born gay, it is simply a lifestyle choice. Period. Show me ONE scientific article that categorically proves that there is such a thing as a gap person, genetically. You won't find it. So "gay" is based on "but I've always felt this way", or " I just know who I am". So do bank robbers and adulterers and on and on.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Andrew

      Note how I said "developed country," Jay, which has a very different definition than a developing country, such as Iran. My commentary is confined to the category of developed nations, of which Iran is not a part.

      And whether being gay is genetic is completely irrelevant to my point. Being gay is something that does not physically or mentally harm our society. You find scientific proof otherwise. Gay marriage is thus a very fundamental civil right which is denied to millions.

      And "I stand opposed," don't conflate expressing opinions with legitimizing unfounded prejudice.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  7. The King

    1) Religious "conservatives" are a cult who haven't an inkling about what Jesus Christ preached.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • RCM

      THE KING, I forgive you for that 🙂 !

      February 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  8. SHAIARRA

    HE'S A BS INHUMANE PHONY

    February 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • kayaker44

      Geez; thought all you left-wing whackos were supposed to be kinder than us compassionate conservatives. All I read here is hate, hate, hate. Shame, Shame, Shame.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  9. Jme

    So much for objective reporting. ...

    February 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  10. MikeG

    Santorum is a nut. He's pro-life only when that life is still in the womb. Once that life is born into the world, Santorum will make sure that kid ends up pumping gas for a living or is shipped off to die in a war. Santorum is a classic example of why religion should be separated from state.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Dan

      Are you not aware that life begins at conception and ends at birth? You're obviously not a republican. sheeeesh

      February 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • cardog

      I would'nt go so far as to call Rick Santorum a nut, unlike Michelle Bachmann, who definitely is a nut case. What I would say about Mr. Santorum is this, he lives still in another era. His beliefs on many social issues will be his down-fall should he become the Teapublicants nominee.
      Mr. Santorum seems to be a decent family man, but the draw-back on him is his insistance that his values are the correct ones as opposed to others.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Glacier Bob

      Well put sir.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • jim

      C'mon, Mike – that's catchy but not truly fair to say – it looks like he's very concerned with life at all stages, as exampled by his support for AIDS relief and concern for the family, not to mention many other examples not mentioned here. I don't think anyone's interested in child labor, Mike – that's just unbased propaganda. We're all Americans, whether we're liberal or conservative; we have an underlying bond and similarity with each other we shouldn't ignore.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  11. I stand opposed

    I don't understand this...am I not a social conservative then? Where do science and Christianity become incompatible? I see disagreements but I do not see where one disproves the other or are incompatible. Microevolution does exist, the structure of matter as we know it does exist as do the laws of thermodynamics. The intricacies of humanity does exist (DNA) even though there is a disagreement how it was formed...and as for the creation story, Christianity itself has 4-5 views that no one can seem to agree on because IT'S NOT EXPLICITY STATED within the Genesis account (depends on how you would define a day).

    Santorum I started to like you, but I now see that you do not create a picture of a Christian world-view that would be deemed legitimate. Fear of knowledge and fear of truth is not conservatism, and if it does, I'm not a 'social conservative'.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Joe T.

      How about the idea that a flood covered all of the mountains all over the world?

      February 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • RCM

      Dear "I stand opposed", Where in the body of this article (written by Dan Gilgoff of CNN) do you see an actual quote regarding Rick's view on science? It is not there, nor in the hyperlinked article on "questioning the theory of evolution". Take care not to form an opinion about anybody based on what someone else says...

      February 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  12. DE

    They like him because like them, he has a one track mind and that is to force his religious views on all of us.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  13. Dan

    I want to learn more about this Santorum. I think I will google him and see what I can learn...

    February 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • toxictown

      "Let's see...fire up the ol' Google...first entry is: 'Santorum 1. The frothy mix of...' What the F!?!?!"

      February 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  14. allanhowls

    "[...] view of science as being at odds with a Christian worldview"

    If you needed any more evidence of a Fundamentalist American Taliban...
    Jesus didn't eradicate smallpox, double our lifespan, or invent the internet...science did.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  15. henbeatsfox

    Completely disagree with Santorum on gay rights and global warming/science v religion. But we don't need him to make advances in those areas. I totally agree with him on almost everything where his views can make a difference, and that difference is desperately needed.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • cardog

      Yes, his views are way right of the current administraion's, I give you that. But here's the problem. President Obama has presented ideas, called for new ways to address America's problems, while at the same time, the likes of Santorum, Romney and Gingrich, along with the Teapublicant right, has demonized everything this President has proposed to better the American working man's life. Some of the proposals were their own proposals until the President agreed with them himself.
      Like Goebbels did during the rise of Germany's Nazism, if you tell lies often enough, stay consistent with the lies, the people who listen to the lies/crap, will come to accept the lies as the truth.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  16. Clyde M

    Isn't afraid to question science...

    Yeah, what has science ever done for us? Round earth? Heliocentric model of the solar system? Medicine? Internet? Computers? Moon landings? Cellular phones? Television? Bah, humbug I much prefer living in the dark ages, thank you very much!

    February 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Nat Q

      Seriously! Why believe in reproducible, empirical, independently confirmable evidence reviewed and accepted by literally MILLIONS of professionals in the field and that produces real world applications and predictions every single day when you can blindly adhere to the Bronze Age beliefs of a semi-nomadic, desert-dwelling, scientifically-ignorant, tribe of shepherding peoples?

      It only makes sense that they gt it right and empirical evidence is totally wrong...

      February 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • toxictown

      Nat Q, don't you know that the Bible is the iron-clad, infallable word of God almighty himself? Well, except for all the other iron-clad infallable versions :-/

      February 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  17. freaked out Canadian

    Being an ignorant, hateful bigot and raising his children to be ignorant, hateful bigots makes him lovable? This is a joke, right?

    February 9, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Erik G.

      It definitely makes him lovable to other ignorant, hateful bigots!

      February 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Otis

      CNN should really get away from hate speech. This would be a Pro-Jim Crow speaking of keeping the colored threat at bay if we had internet in the 1950's. CNN should be ashamed. If you post it, you endorse it.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  18. fsmgroupie

    look like the frothy one has had a lube job!

    February 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  19. Erik G.

    Speaking as a liberal, I think Santorum is the perfect candidate for the GOP!

    February 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      Absolutely. He could win, don't you think? LOL

      February 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  20. Recovering Catholic

    I thought he was running for pope not President of US.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • MG

      He's to conservative to be Pope.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:57 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.