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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. The One Reason Liberals LOVE Santorum

    Santorum is doomed in the general election.

    A vote for Santorum now is a vote for Obama later. Thanks Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri!

    February 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  2. A Reasoner

    JPX - Can't imagine someone like Santorum in the Whitehouse? Someone who doesn't "Believe" in science? Someone who wants to be our "war President" and go to war in the middle east? Someone who believes Gawd has chosen him for the Presidency? No, that could never happen... And if it did it certainly wouldn't happen twice in a row. Not again.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • LinCA

      Never underestimate the stupidity of the American voters. They elected G.W. Bush. Twice.

      February 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  3. Mir

    Hmmm... the last one scares me. Doesn't believe in science? I'm a devout Christian, and I'm a scientist. I do NOT think we should put science and religion at odds with each other

    February 8, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Honest

      Never been Religion Vs. Science

      Always been....

      Religion Vs. Evidence

      February 8, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  4. Jo

    Probably no sense posting a comment when there's already 229 of them but I'm a social & fiscal conservative, a Catholic covert, a third wife on her second husband, and I homeschooled our 4 children. Not only do I believe Rick Santorum can't & won't beat Obama but he is rigid and incapable of flexibility. He lacks imagination or original ideas. He will never be my first choice for president, although I will vote for him in November if he ends up being the Republican nominee. My first choice has always been, and always will be, Newt Gingrich. I believe he is the only one who can beat Obama and bring this country back from the brink of socialism where it is now.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • douglas

      Jo, that was a very thoughtful and commonsense posting. One question for you and others, why do many insist on using the term Socialism. This country couldn't be any further from Socialism. We have one of the lowest personal income tax rates in the world. The government does not take from us in any inordinate way. Are you possibly pointing towards healthcare? My employer provides my healthcare, not the government. The government only wants to insure that those who choose not to purchase health insurance do so in order to keep the costs down for others, who would ultimately pay for their FREE care. Can you provide an example of American socialism?

      February 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  5. Prayer changes things

    Atheism isn't healthy for children and other living things,

    February 8, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • ordinaryamerican

      It's unhealthy for children to hear that they will suffer for eternity after death if they don't follow a certain set of guidelines laid out by the mistranslated, politically-influenced mess we call the King James bible.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  6. captbeefheart

    I really don't like people who feel the need to get in my face with their beliefs. I REALLY don't like people who try to convert me to their beliefs. Santorum scares me because he feels his views are what others should believe as well, (in my face and wants to convert me) and may become powerful enough to make his beliefs laws. Santorum and others like him need to back off and worry about themselves.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  7. ordinaryamerican

    I like how Santorum claims to represent the working class. Let me say something as a 5th generation tradesman: people like him get into politics because they can't work, and politicians like him get into religion because they can't debate. Except for the right-to-work Republiklansmen down south, the faithful blue-collar workers don't want to see religion involved in govermnent and vice-versa. Imagine an America where the Government tampers with your right to worship because you don't follow the same denomination or religion as those in power, as it is in places like Bahrain or Iran.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  8. Shawn Irwin

    Insanitorum wants to go to war with Iran, and would like to get involved in wars similar to those started by george Bush, especially if they have anything to do with Israel. He is a George Bush clone . . . . or worse.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  9. Monkey

    Obongo is garbage, just like every commentor on here.....effin libtards.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • cigarlover6

      LOL, r a c i s t 's nightmarish situation. too funny.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Someone

      Monkey – such appropriate moniker. Did you confuse dung with a keyboard tonight?

      February 8, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  10. cigarlover6

    if this a s ss h l e is elected.. seriously would have to leave this brain dead country.... seriously.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • stohlat

      bye bye, I hear Canada is nice this time of year.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Mikey

      Actually Canada is lovely at this time of the year. And our economy is one of the top in the world. Go figure

      February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  11. JPX

    "Santorum isn’t afraid to challenge science, questioning the theory of evolution and dismissing global warming as “a hoax.”" this is EXACTLY why this man will never be president. Can you imagine such a dolt in the White House? Take a basic science course, dude.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Judged@41

      Santorum is not anti-science. He is simply challenging the theory of evolution, which at this point, only a mouth breathing, knuckle dragging imbecile would believe in after he truly examined the scientific facts.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • cigarlover6

      yeah, Santo is not anti science.. only when he doesn't need it, like something that smashes his s t u p id belief.
      But he will run to the hospital to cure his daughter, or fly on a plane to go around the country to campaign his b ul s h i t. Then the fruits of science is believable. F' k i n g hypocrite.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • No please ...

      and he accepts the use of antibiotics for the daughter, which proves evolution millions of times a day. retard.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • ordinaryamerican

      Mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging? Come on man. The scientific facts point toward evolution, and a huge majority of scientists follow that theory. Why doesn't Santorum ask the doctors treating his daughter how they feel about the origin of humanity?

      February 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • JPX

      Judged@41, I'm assuming that you're a high school dropout, right?

      February 8, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Jamie

      There is consistently a misunderstanding during discusions about evolution and Creationism. People say "I don't believe in evolution." Evolution is not a belief, and for that matter, neither is science. Scientists don't "believe" in theories like one believes in God. Theories are more like an idea or a most likely explaination that is created based upon a body of evidence and observations. If new data or discovery is presented that challenges a scientific theory, a good scientist doesn't say "that goes against my belief of this theory." Theories change frequently as new data is collected.
      Religious beliefs are not the same. They are based on faith, and not necessarily facts. Its not wrong, just different.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  12. Bob

    11. Because he's nuts and so are they.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Shawn Irwin

      Those who advocate christianity must support one of the following arguements:
      1. The universe is less than 5,000 years old.
      > Easily disproved by stratification of layers of earth, laid down yearly, with far more than 5000 layers, radiometric dating, Pangeae, and the speed of light through the vast distances of space, a galaxy (ours) that is about 100,000 light years in diameter.
      2. The dinosaurs never existed.
      > Totally laughable. A visit to a Natrural History museum can quickly dispell this notion.
      3. Noah lead Tyrannosaurus Rex onto the ark.
      > Even more laughable. Tyrannosaurus Rex would eat Noah and half of the animals on the ark.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • jma58

      Sooooo true.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • captbeefheart

      Shawn, don't you realize god thought all that up and put it there just to mess with you, i.e., to test your faith? The earth REALLY IS only 5000 years old. And god wears a wife-beater, a doo-rag, and cooks meth in his trailer. How else could he get everything done in 6 days (he crashed on the seventh day, and probably for a few days after).

      February 8, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • douglas

      I thought that was Walter White.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  13. Debbie

    Not voting for theocracy or corporatism.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • AAAAA

      Socialism! Work sux anyways! I agree Debbie...!!!!

      February 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  14. Judged@41

    I must say that I am greatly encouraged by the voting results in Missouri, Minnesota, and especially Colorado! The people are with Santorum, they believe in what he stands for, conservative values and all. Apparently, this terrifies the left wing liberal dunces. Santorum has my vote...and apparently the votes of Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado.

    Furthermore, Santorum is not anti-science. He is simply challenging the theory of evolution, which at this point, only a mouth breathing, knuckle dragging imbecile would believe in after he truly examined the scientific facts.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • 21k

      please comment on his wife's 6 year illicit affair with an abortion doctor, and the santorum's decision to have a "miscarriage" with their 20 week old baby. oh, by the way, the world is actually not the center of the universe. thought you might need to hear that since it's not in the bible.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Eric G

      Please present the evidence that you have that disproves the theory of evolution.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • kflanigan

      Thatt is anti science.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Judged@41 contains instances of the ad hominem fallacy, the circ-umstantial ad hominem fallacy, and the Willed Ignorance fallacy.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/

      February 8, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • stohlat

      To Eric G, if evolution is a fact, why is it still called the "theory of evolution". Just asking.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • No please ...

      "The people" did not vote for him. The right wing wackos of the Retard Party voted for him, proving their party is fractured. He will loose. Be happy.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • JT

      It never ceases to amaze me when Christians who barely passed a 2nd grade science class discounts 150+ years of mountains of evidence from multiple disciplins that prove life on Earth evolved. BTW, facts are not things one "believes" in such as talking snakes, that people can come back to life, etc. but things one accepts.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Flinders the butler

      Science is a method. The word "fact" does not appear in any steps of the method. Only theories, and evidence. Too bad. You anal retentive types can't handle that.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Flinders the butler

      Science is a method. The word "fact" does not appear in any steps of the method. Only theories, and evidence. Too bad. You an'al retentive types can't handle that. Try a course in school instead of learning your crap from TV preachers.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • douglas

      Why do you have to be a left-wing liberal dunce to disagree with a man who has a 19th century set of values? I'm an independent, I have voted both Republican and Democratic. I find Santorum repulsive.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • B-man

      Back to your drawer sock puppet.

      February 8, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • footnotegirl

      @Stohlat
      Please observe the difference between a casual theory and a Scientific Theory. They are completely different things. A casual theory is just an idea. A Scientific Theory requires a hypothesis that has been supported by the best evidence and tested. Remember, Gravity is ALSO 'just a theory'.

      February 9, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  15. 21k

    add these: his wife lived with (ie, helped him with his pelvic exercises) an abortion doctor for 6 years, decided to have a "miscarriage" with their 20 week old baby, but can still keep a strait face with the list above.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  16. Liberal Mike

    Is it wrong if I don't want to vote for black president, aka obongo again? I'm all for equality but they had their chance and its not lookin good my friends. Im pretty liberal tho so my friends give me backlash when i say that.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • rlowens1

      You're not liberal – you're just stupid.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • 21k

      i'd say you're just a plain old pekkker-head.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Liberal Mike

      I might be stupid, but i am liberal.....guess thats where the saying libtard comes from lol..... 😦

      February 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • smr413

      If you're a liberal, I'm Queen Elizabeth and I'm living in The Bronx.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • No please ...

      lots of queens in the Bronx.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Jamie

      You may be liberal, but you are also kind of racist.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  17. grinder

    believers should be banished to jupiter or better yet neptune where wind speeds reach 1200 mph and will tear flesh from bone

    February 8, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • rlowens1

      No, they should just be deprogrammed. Try to see them as victims of a brainwashing scheme. Then, maybe, you won't hate them so much.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • 21k

      they should just be truthful to themselves and cut their losses now, before they waste even more time and money on a big ol' fairy tale.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • grinder

      i dont hate them

      i just dont see a use for keeping them around

      February 8, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  18. Ourkie

    Santorum has NO hope with the GOP for the 10 reasons stated above. GOP tried stupid for the Bush cycle and I don't think they are ready for it again so soon." Mr Frothy's" nomination will guarantee Obama's reelection.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Enlightened4

      Unfortunately you are right, BUT Republicans as a whole are not stupid. The Evangelicals that the author writes about are Baptists and all Christians are not Baptists by any stretch of the imagination. NOT even close. Santorum talks of PA like he's their hero. Yet, as a Senator from PA, he lost re-election by a record setting margin. We are so supposed to believe PA loved him and voted him OUT OF OFFICE? He cannot win as a Senator, so he runs for President? Me thinks this man has visions of sanctimonious self importance. Heck, he doesn't even live in Pennsylvania any longer. Besides running his campaign, he doesn't even have a career. Christians understand that it takes some genuine experience and God given talent to be the CEO of the United States. Something that Rick Santorum does NOT possess.

      February 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  19. dave

    An American theocracy is what these guy have in mind...Freedom of religion to them means you can freely chose between being either a Catholic or Protestant, just as long as its okay with them.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  20. rlowens1

    All the US Presidents have always at least pretended to have an imaginary friend (to garner votes from the ignorant people who think they have one, too) – but, Rick Santorum is the real deal. He really is nutty enough to believe he has an imaginary friend who tells him how he should act, think, feel, and believe. That, in and of itself, makes him unqualified for the most powerful position on the planet.

    February 8, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • t.sarcastic

      But don't forget his psychic abilities. Remember the Terri Schiavo episode where Rick knew better than the real doctors.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • JPX

      Word.

      February 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I really hope Santorum gets the nod from the Republicans. Obama will be a shoo-in.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:25 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.