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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. Paul F.

    Would love to see a Romney-Santorum ticket... Pro-America, Pro-Growth, Pro-Faith & Freedom, unbeatable !! 16 years in the White House to take the nation back to its glory & greatness.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • GodPot

      I really hope that was meant as a joke... they don't really make people that stupid do they?

      February 10, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • Dave

      GodPot, people did vote for 0bama didn't they?

      February 10, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • GodPot

      Sorry for my comment, I'm such an idiot when I'm high. I get high to feel good about having voted for Obama, because he has failed me. I's so CONFUSED!!!

      February 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  2. Dan Overmitten

    Santorum is a scam artist. Read the articles which describe his family using a publicly funded program while they lived in ANOTHER state. They ARE NOT homeschoolers.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  3. Dan Overmitten

    Santorum was NEVER a homeschooler. He used a public funded program while living in another state. He scammed the system. Read the articles yourselves.

    February 10, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  4. Dave The Sandman

    They like him because, like them, he is a theocratc bigot who wants to impose his own version of christo-fascist sharia law on everyone else. End of argument.

    HOWEVER

    Here is how well this so called "good" Catholic stacks up against me...an ex-Catholic atheist.

    http://alstefanelli.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/holier-than-thou/

    Seems by the standards of Mother Church I am the better follower of Church doctrne. And as Rck sets himself against the central doctrines of the Church he is a HERETIC....a follower of some weird form of US politicised schismatic Catholicism like Mel Gibson and his mad dad.

    I also apply the same excersise to Newt at http://alstefanelli.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/holier-than-thou-redux/...and guess what?

    February 10, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Dave

      These have to be the dumbest posts I read, and show a COMPLETE lack of understanding how OUR political system works. Unless the President tries to go arounf Congress (like the one we have now), the President CAN NOT write or pass a single law. That is the responsibility of the Legislative Branch. Bill (law) written, debated and passed in the House; then sent to the Senate where it must be reviewed, debated, modified and the passed. Then going back to the House for confirmation. At that time and only at that time is it sent to the President for approval or veto.

      February 10, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  5. mickey1313

    the fact that my state is mostly democrats, but sickenly vote republican for the POTUS is sad, coloradians need to pull there heads out of there buts, Santorem is a POS.

    February 10, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • GodPot

      POS – Piece of Santorum? I'm not sure you can finger through the froth to find a whole piece of Santorum but you are welcome to try...

      February 10, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  6. James

    Santorum seems to be building momentum...He surprised us in Iowa, again this week, and might just win the GOP nomination! I believe he is difficult to attack because, he votes his values and is consistent.

    As far as Obama, that is not an issue...most experts predict he will not be re-elected if the economy continues the downward spiral.

    Hopefully the GOP will select the best candidate to get the economy going again.

    February 10, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Shirley

      James,

      I agree that Obama is not an issue, but I have to disagree with you thinking that the GOP has it won. Santorum would definitely be the best candidate.

      February 10, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Someone who was considered to be one of the most corrupt senators of the last decade and who suffered one of the worst re-election defeats in the history of this nation really shouldn't be that hard to attack.

      February 10, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • mickey1313

      you are right, it is a non issue, since the nation is much much better off now then when that crackpot bush left, Obama will surely get re-elected.

      February 10, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  7. Desiree

    Santorum is awesome! Regardless of who wins the GOP nomination Obama is done!

    February 9, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Letty

      I have to agree 100%. Santorum is by far the best choice! Unless a miracle happens before Nov the GOP will win.

      February 10, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • marc

      I have to agree 100%. Santorum is by far the best choice! Unless a miracle happens before Nov the GOP will win.

      February 10, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • *facepalm*

      A corrupt senator is the best the COP has to offer? This country is screwed.

      February 10, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • marc

      Letty,

      Wanna date? jk

      February 10, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • sam

      I'm sorry...I can't take you seriously with your stripper name.

      February 10, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  8. Lilly

    Under Obama,

    Economy weaker

    Less Jobs

    Middle East a mess

    Obama is a failure...America will fire him!!!

    February 9, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Niel

      Don't forget there are many American's out there that believe Obama is doing the right thing, even though his economic policy has failed. They are blinded by their ideology. Most Americans however will react when it hits their pocket long enough. Go Santorum!

      February 10, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Thanks for the spam Lilly. Maybe if you say it enough times it will actually be true.

      However, for those that deal in actual facts, you may want to see this: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000 Here we see that while unemployment today is indeed slightly higher than when Obama took office, it sky rocketed at the end of Bush's term when the economy actually collapse. And last I checked Lilly, Obama finally got our troops out of the mess that was Iraq – you know, that country that the previous administration lied about in order to start a war.

      But Lilly, continue to repeat those same lies if it helps you sleep better at night. I think you'll be in for a surprise come November, especially if the Republicans nominate anyone other than Romney.

      February 10, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • lilly

      LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE OUT NUMBERED haha

      February 10, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Lilly

      I've been living under a rock; I'm delusional. Sorry for this post.

      February 10, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • *facepalm*

      I've been living under a rock; I'm delusional. Sorry for this post. I'm sorry for posting under false names.

      February 13, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  9. Reality

    Only for the newbies:

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, Newton Leroy Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    And the irony:

    The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    February 9, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  10. nonretardedfolk

    not afraid to question science? So he's not afraid to question truth? Everyday I find more reasons to hate Santorum.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Kathy

      Could not agree more. Rick Santorum, aka let's declare a zygote a person, is the waste-product of church zealots posing as average Christians. Go GOP; fall right off that cliff.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  11. michaelwg

    I'll add that they love him for helping G.W.Bush break down the Wall of Separation between Church and State in their favor by allowing billions of dollars in faith-based grants. It's like smacking Thomas Jefferson in the face. (not to mention every person who isn't of an Abrahamic religion)

    February 9, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  12. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how very stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Juan L. Jimenenz

      That's why I pray as I am doing my daily work. No matter how much one prays, they still have to take care of their own problems.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
  13. concerned clevelander

    When the unbelievers are burning, the laughter they hear will be mine. I'll be eating canned pears all day long playing hickory dinks with my uncle Ron. I love you all.

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

      Finding joy in suffering. You really must be a fundamentalist.

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

      I just feel bad that you're wasting your life on that nonsense, I was a Christian for a very long time, So I know just how superior you feel to everyone. But you're wrong.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • just sayin

      You were never a Christian you deceived yourself in thinking you were one, but had you stayed unto judgement you would have received the admonition from God, begone I never knew you.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Juan L. Jimenenz

      Instead of laughing, you should be praying for unbelievers. If you are laughing at the suffering of others, you will probably be joining them in hell.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  14. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out about him at his frothy best.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  15. Nan

    hi

    February 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  16. PPJr

    Unhappy with Obama? Try ayatollah Santorum instead.

    February 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  17. Convert to Christianity

    Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE!

    * Atheism makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    * Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    * Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao & other terrible massmurder leaders.
    * No traditional family lifestyle, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    * Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel stupid outside their home.
    * Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    * Atheists have had terrible life experience, not being loved and terrible childhood.
    * Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run to the white house!
    * Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    * Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    * All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    * The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    * Atheism have no holidays, no culture, no nothing. Waste of living in this planet...

    February 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • PPJr

      "The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)".

      That's the most convincing proof that atheism is wrong.

      Why Bible is always right? Becausef it"s the words of God. And how do we know Bible is the words of God? Because Bible is always right! Well done, dude.

      February 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • ashrakay

      The bible also condones owning slaves and ki.lling women and children. Now doesn't that sound like a wonderful world?

      February 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Also, I know religious people don't like facts to get in the way of reality, but atheists have many holidays in the US including, but not limited to, 4th of July, MLK day, Thanksgiving, Halloween, New Year's Eve and Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, etc. In secular countries like the one ALL holidays are secular and we actually have more holidays here than in America.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out his true anal mixing bowl desires.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

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

      Im not even an atheist and this sounded retarded. You might need to learn proper grammar first ,before going on such a completely unsupported religious tangent.

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

      You're what we call a "Useful Idiot"

      February 9, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • funkula

      This is some of the most inane drivel I've ever read. You clearly have absolutely no understanding of what you're arguing about, nor seem you to have any interest in learning. I sincerely hope that the woefully retarded points you are making here are willfully ignorant, because I struggle to imagine that such ignorance can be anything other than a concerted effort on your part.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  18. bobcat

    To me patriotism is a bigger threat than treason. Traitors fight for others for the destruction of their home, patriots are far more insidious seeking to devastate their own home with war while claiming it to be in the best interest of their nation.

    February 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • michaelwg

      correct. Patriotism is Fascism in disguise.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  19. Lilly

    Under Obama,

    Economy weaker

    Less Jobs

    Middle East a mess

    Obama is a failure...America will fire him!!!

    February 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • go4it

      Lilly,
      Get rid of any guns in your house. You are now on suicide watch come November 🙂

      February 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Lilly

      I love it when I'm personally attacked. That means you have no concrete argument and your know I'm right!

      Obama has made things worse and you can't argue against that unless you're an idiot!

      February 9, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • sam

      I'm confused – did you post this twice because you didn't get enough of a response the first time?

      February 10, 2012 at 1:05 am |
  20. tnmtl

    I saw a totally scary picture in the paper today of that jerk standing in the middle of some kind of prayer frensy looking like Jesus (he was in the middle of a croud of mostly white men with their heads bowed, everyone touching everyone, and finally touching him in the center). Sorry, America needs someone to lead the country, not be some kind of fake Jesus!

    February 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Convert to Christianity

      Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things!

      † Atheism makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
      † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
      † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
      † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
      † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao & other terrible mass murder leaders.
      † No traditional family lifestyle, boring and feeling 'outsider'
      † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
      † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
      † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
      † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
      † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
      † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
      † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
      † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
      † Atheism have no holidays, no culture, no nothing. Waste of living in this planet...

      †† Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be healthy and seek their creator ††

      February 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • bff

      Convert to Christianity
      I found it! I found it! My creator! I found it!

      It's my mom. Now what?

      February 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • michaelwg

      Convert to Christianity
      You were born an Atheist. 🙂

      February 9, 2012 at 9:13 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.