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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. T

    Is the USA really going to elect a grown man who questions Evolution? Are American's really that stupid, that they discount provable science in some pathetic attempt to hold on to a delusion that keeps them warm and fuzzy?

    I wonder what America would look like if religion were not taught to children until after the age of reason. The USA is so full of ignorant masses. People who can't find England on a map, or don't understand simple facts provable by the laws of physics.

    How can people live the majority of their lives using provable evidence to make choices, but then when it comes to their religion, they just throw common sense and deductive reasoning in the trash?

    If we based our decisions on Medical treatment on belief, people would die due to not listening to the facts, if people based our court system on punishing people without provable facts, people could be put to death without any logical reason. If we built our bridges and buildings without using the laws of physics and math, they would all fall apart. So we do then throw out all science when it comes to ourselves and our world.

    It's like we would rather not see or hear the evidence, because it would prove what we believe as false. Accepting that what we believe is false would crush most ignorant and low self esteem people, as they would feel betrayed that what they invested their entire life on was not real. They could not handle that kind of reality.

    February 9, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • average republican guy

      Duh that statments that guy posted are too smart and fancy talk for me so I hate and bash u now woo hoo vote rich wite guy 2012!

      February 9, 2012 at 3:17 am |
    • chedar

      We elected Bush right? That guy is a nightmare. So you can say americans are stupid.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  2. NiSolihp

    Santorum appeal is largely restricted to rural communities with less education. They identify with him because he is not a man of any significant philosophy or radical idea or accomplishment. Besides, research shows that adults of zealous faith tend to belong to this demographic of little or no formal education, low early-childhood IQ and posses very little general knowledge (recall the woman claiming that President Obama is an "avowed" Muslim) and are easily swayed into bigotry and self-destruction. Santorum has their number.

    February 9, 2012 at 2:53 am |
  3. ron

    I am a Religious Conservative and I support Mitt Romney. I feel if you look at his family and his character...he stand head and shoulders above any of the rest. Remember....Rich Santorum is a Lobbyist.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • 40acres

      From 1998 to 2006, private equity and investment firms spent $3 million a year lobbying Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Bain got into the game in 2007, registering with prominent Washington lobbying firms Public Strategies, Inc. and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. To date, Bain has paid some $3 million to these firms to make sure corporate taxes stay low and CEOs remain fat and happy.

      motherjones. com/ politics/ 2012/ 01/ bain-lobbying-saved-mitt-romney-millions

      February 9, 2012 at 7:47 am |
  4. Bob

    So, he's anti-science and anti-human rights. He's also in favor of everyone having a gun. He would like to invade Iran. He would reduce the federal deficit by cutting off aid to the poor and reducing taxes for the rich. He wants to eliminate education. He sounds like the perfect candidate for those wanting to restore traditional Christian values to American public life.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Squeak

      OMG.... you just totally gave me nightmares.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:53 am |
  5. bob

    This guy is a nut job with some scary ideas, how can someone this much like hitler get this close to being president

    February 9, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Because some god wants him to be but doesn't have the power or ability to make it happen directly, as in, without a four year process?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • flyonthewall

      Because the TEA (Taliban Equivalency in America) party are fighting for there totalitarian hitleresque rights!!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Franz Liebkind

      Hitler was far more effective than Santorum would ever hope to be. And a better dancer. You know, not many people knew about it, but the Fuhrer vas a terrific dancer.

      Und now it's springtime for Hitler and Germany!
      U-boats are sailing once more!
      We're marching to a faster pace,
      Look out, here comes the master race!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  6. tony

    Thanks to the great thinkers of the republican legislature, you can no longer cash food stamps in a strip club . . . . .but you can of course swap them for an assault rife at a gun show. Which every poverty stricken family with hungry children clearly needs several of.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:30 am |
  7. MrsFizzy

    I'd like to see the day when Presidential candidates aren't even allowed to talk about religion on the campaign trail ...because our country is supposed to have SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!

    February 9, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • S.Lutz

      I so totally agree. What the hell is going on here? This is a political campaign for the highest office in the world. What on earth are religious views doing in the Middle of it??? What a disgrace. And Santorum is challenging Science? What a fruit-loop! His religious fairytale versus scientific proof....and he wants to Be a World leader?????????

      February 9, 2012 at 2:58 am |
  8. tony

    Who is the All-powerful god in the ten commandments jealous of??? A few cheap rock figures carved out the same easily broken and lost sandstone he burned the commandments on?

    February 9, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • *facepalm*

      He's an insecure god. He clearly needs his ego stroked constantly.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  9. MrsFizzy

    I'd like to see the day when Presidential candidates aren't allowed to talk about religion on the campaign trail ...because our country is supposed to have SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!!!

    February 9, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  10. tony

    Attention all rapists. Santorum will make his daughters bring up your children.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  11. Jason

    I love this guy. Just keeps getting smacked, and he comes back for more. The longer he's in the race, the more it splits the vote and demoralizes the right, ensuring the bible thumpers stay home in the general election. If he wins the nomination, even better- instant win for Obama. Go Rick!

    February 9, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  12. chrism

    He cares. He has personal integrity. He means what he says and says what he means. He practices what he preaches. It shows. He'd make a great president.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • HotAirAce

      His foreign policy (attack Iran) alone would make him a terrible president, but he might make an ok Pope-a-Dope.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • tony

      Not you again. Why do you still worship the the "loving god" who slaughtered several hundred thousand innocents in the last two great tsunamis??? (but fixed up the Red Sea as a favor to the Israelites). You do realize that's the definition of Satan?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • Lynda

      He has integrity? Pray tell where that integrity was when he set up a sham residence and bilked the state of PA for $100,000? And pray tell where is that integrity when he calls himself a "homeschooler" when his kids were registered with a PUBLIC school so he could get that $100,000.

      Yep, that sure is integrity in my book!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • S.Lutz

      He will Be a great President if you are not a highly educated scientist, intellectual or a female. He Disputes the Theory of evolution? He is a fruit-cake and will be voted in by a legion of fruit-cakes.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:04 am |
  13. Z

    People are clueless as to what this mans really said. He essentially wants to remove all forms of birth control in the US and censor what he deems inappropriate. He's for taking away women's rights towards their bodies and talks of rewriting all the laws to be based on 'religious law'. Folks call it what it is, it's a 'christian' version of Sharia law, and if this guy gets elected the US will become just like Afghanistan. Do some research and stop relying on the 'right' to tell you the truth, he openly admits it.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  14. bubboaz

    I wonder when his ties to Abramoff, Norquist, and the K street lobbying scandal will come up? He seems to have gotten a free pass on this in the debates so far.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  15. The 10 REAL reasons

    1. He is not a Mormon
    2. He is not a fat pig Washington insider philanderer liar blowhard bully
    3. He is not a Mormon
    4. He is not a crackpot dingbat kook Libertarian
    5. He is not a Mormon
    6. He is not a witch
    7. He is not a Mormon
    8. He is not a nig, uh monkey, uh negro, uh black like that uppity boy who don't unnerstand it's the WHITE House
    9. He is kissing our asses for votes at the moment, and we are dumb enough to believe he is sincere
    10. He is not a Mormon magic-panties cultist freak!

    February 8, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • A known Filipino

      I guess, a member of the tea party. Tell me if I'm right. Or if I'm wrong , at least a republican.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • flyonthewall

      your clearly a rascist. sad.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • The 10 REAL reasons

      Apparently Poe's law applies to parodies of conservative whackos every bit as much as it applies to parodies of religious nutters.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • canttakajoke

      OK, but it's only a half White House

      February 9, 2012 at 3:27 am |
  16. ruemorgue

    So one of the reasons Evangelicals love this Clown is because he opposes any science that they perceive as contradicting their 2000 year-old Fairy Tale Book. Wow. Yup, he *definitely* deserves to be President ... of IRAN.

    February 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Mik

      You mean, just like Obama?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:57 am |
  17. Trevor

    Oh man, he's a homeschooler too? I guess he wouldn't want any of his kids getting a whiff of the fact that humans and dinosaurs didn't co-exist. The Santorum candidacy is going nowhere fast.

    February 8, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  18. ab_contador

    Santorum is one of the scariest candidates the republican party has ever considered - he is repulsive enough to make me vote Obama

    February 8, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Bee

      I'm with you ab_contador! Agree completely! The American people deserve better.

      February 8, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  19. A known Filipino

    Also CNN not posting all comments... hmmm I have a feeling of censorship.

    February 8, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • LinCA

      @A known Filipino

      You said, "Also CNN not posting all comments... hmmm I have a feeling of censorship."

      CNN uses automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. My guess is that your post had had a forbidden word in it. Posts that contain too many URLs will also get rejected.

      Repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
      arse
      bastard
      bitch
      cock
      coon
      cum
      cunt
      douche
      effing
      fag
      ftw
      fuck
      homo
      horny
      jackass
      jap
      jism
      kinky
      kooch
      nipple
      orgy
      pis
      porn
      poo
      prick
      rape
      sex
      shit
      slut
      snatch
      spic
      tit
      twat
      vag
      whore
      wtf

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      February 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • A known Filipino

      its funny cause I was making fun of republic-tards, excluding Ron Paul do I don't see my comments anymore... CNN are you biased?

      February 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Charles

      @LinCA: How'd you post that, then? Seriously, I'm confused.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • The Four Fluffy Kittens of the Apocalypse

      I suggest that you get really paranoid and start posting about how there is a conspiracy to censor your posts. We haven't had one of those in quite a while, and it's a real howler to watch. They tend to get really mad about it, too.

      In truth, there is just a lame filter bot that won't let you talk about s.ex or the Consti.tution, even when the article is on those subjects.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Bizarre

      Interesting... before I knew about the automatic word filter and my posts would not appear, I thought it was a browser problem or just me hitting a wrong button. Censorship never crossed my mind...

      February 9, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • It's like this

      Charles – here is the secret. I have to explain it because typing it causes it to vanish. At the point in a naughty word where you would normally put the dash or space, as in ti-t, put the following 7 characters togerther, no spaces. Ignore the filler I put in.

      Start with and then

      What you are doing is turning on and off the bold type inside the word. Split the > and the < section and anything inside of it will be in bold type. Replace the b with an i and you get italic. You can do bold italic as well

      February 9, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • It's like this

      Darn. It vanished. I have to do it in a series of posts. Remember, seven characters all together at the break in the naughty word. First two:

      <b

      February 9, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • It's like this

      Second two

      ><

      February 9, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • MrsFizzy

      Heyyyy how did you do that Lin?! 😀 It told me I was posting too fast & slow down!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • It's like this

      Final three

      /b>

      See above for bold and italics.

      You have been given the secret of The Force, Luke. Use it wisely. Do not use it to say fuck or shit or anything like that.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Patrik morrison

      Imagine a world controlled by the rich! (They are republican. Shhhhhh, they want big government, when we wish to speak freely...)

      February 9, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  20. tokencode

    I am from Pennsylvannia and I would not want Santorum running an ice cream stand.

    February 8, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • A known Filipino

      And the good lord said" If Rick Santorum becomes the president of America I'm wiping out the Earth on December 21st, 2012." Mayans prediction may be true. But who will destroy the world first? God or Rick Santorum?

      February 8, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • ndgp82

      I don't want him running the ice cream stand either. We need his leadership in Washington more than ever. He can provide the moral leadership we are severely lacking.

      February 8, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Bee

      I'm from Virginia, and I would not want Rick running a peanut farm!

      February 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Think outside your small tiny box

      @ndgp82, would that be the same moral leadership that had him branded as one of the most corrupt US Senators? Just because you agree with his position on abortion does not make him moral.

      February 8, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • A known Filipino

      the guy who said we needed him in Washington is of course a Christian who hates equal rights for all. When I mean all I mean all!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:13 am |
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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.