Santorum Wins Conservative Hearts In Minn. Caucus

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rick Santorum gave Minnesota Republicans the chance to prove they’re just as socially conservative as their Iowa neighbors, and they responded by handing the Pennsylvania senator a caucus win that at least temporarily shakes up the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

Santorum handily won Minnesota’s Republican caucus Tuesday, comfortably ahead of second-place finisher Ron Paul. Mitt Romney, the front-runner for the nomination and a winner here four years ago, was well back in third and Newt Gingrich finished last.

Turnout has generally been low for Minnesota’s Republican caucus, and a snapshot of several counties Tuesday night showed turnout markedly lower than the 2008 Republican caucus. Romney won back then by casting himself as the conservative alternative to John McCain, a winning strategy for a state where party processes are traditionally dominated by deeply conservative activists. This year, it was Santorum who rode that wave.

“He seems to have a clear message,” said Bruce Mackenthun, a 38-year-old contractor who caucused for Santorum in Shakopee and called him a “consistent conservative” without some of Romney’s negatives or Paul’s isolationist foreign policy views.

Santorum also might have benefited simply by showing up more. Both he and Paul made a series of visits to Minnesota in the final week, hoping the conservative temperament of its GOP base would help them shake up their underdog campaigns. Gingrich and Romney made only a visit each in the lead-up to Tuesday.

Cheryl Czech, a 56-year-old house painter from Lino Lakes, attended Santorum’s rally in Blaine Tuesday afternoon and decided after hearing him speak to support him at caucus.

“I like the way he talks,” Czech said. “He sounds so sincere about what he says.”

The night’s preference ballot doesn’t bind any of the 40 national convention delegates, but it offers plenty of symbolic importance. Coming off back-to-back primary wins in Nevada and Florida, Romney could have drawn away from the pack with victories in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado. Santorum also won in Missouri and late Tuesday was declared the winner in Colorado.

Bruce Olson, a retired state employee who caucused in the Minneapolis suburb of Andover, said he was open to Santorum or Gingrich but had concerns about Romney: “I like Romney OK but I think he’s a little liberal.”

Ernie Bedor, a 59-year-old insurance agent, spoke up for Romney during his precinct caucus meeting in Andover. “I think Romney, with his business background, would be a better choice to stimulate our economy, get this economy going and create more jobs.”

Nancy and Tom Hill both voted for Paul in Andover. Nancy Hill, an assistant to a financial planner, said she’s “evolved over the years from Democrat to independent to Republican.” She said she backed Paul because she sees him as the only Republican willing to truly rein in federal spending.

In addition to talking about presidential choices, caucus-goers in Andover touched briefly on issues including several planned or proposed constitutional amendments. They heard a pitch from supporters of the amendment to define marriage in the state Constitution as between a man and a woman only. That prompted debate in the second precinct meeting, with several speaking out for the traditional definition of marriage but a few others opposed or at least undecided.

Cindy Showalter, a nurse, said she had spoken to her 21-year-old son about the issue. “He asked me, ‘Would you want the government telling you and Dad you couldn’t get married?'” she said.

In 2008, more than 60,000 Republicans attended a caucus — helping Romney easily defeat McCain. Party insiders said despite the competitive nature of the 2012 caucuses, they weren’t expecting to rival that number. In Andover, site coordinator Janna Goodrich said the caucus appeared to her to have drawn about three-fourths the number of people that attended in 2008. At one Rosedale hub for several precincts, GOP officials estimated attendance was down from about 350 four years ago to about 300 this time around.

By contrast, in Shakopee — a suburb south of Minneapolis — a line of about 50 people steadily ambled through the Shakopee High School lobby. An organizer, Deputy Chairman of Scott County Republicans Ryan Love, estimated overall attendance at the hub site was around 300, up from four years ago. He said attendance at his own small precinct jumped from 5 people four years ago to almost 20 this year.

Jannette Costa, 40, a stay-at-home mother of two daughters, said fiscal and social issues brought her to the Shakopee gathering. She said she’s not that happy with either party but supports Santorum: “He’s pro-life. He seems to have a very good understanding of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and of what the founders intended for our country.”

Santorum and Paul made their last Minnesota appeals on caucus day itself. Speaking to more than 100 supporters in Blaine, another northern Minneapolis suburb, Santorum blasted Romney as a candidate with too many problems in his record to provide a contrast with Obama.

“Minnesota, you don’t need to settle for second best. Pick the best,” Santorum said.

Paul worked the state hard, dropping in on two caucuses before heading to his own election night party outside Minneapolis. Since Saturday, Paul has drawn thousands to several events, particularly young voters.

Showalter, the nurse at the Andover caucus, said she decided to attend after a discussion with her 21-year-old son, a Paul supporter. Showalter said he’s “pumped up” about the election.

“It was embarrassing to hear him say that he was going to caucus and we’d never been to one,” Showalter said. “So we decided to go.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. sick of people's BS says:

    Just goes to show you that the RINO Pawlenty doesn’t have the pull in this State that he thinks he has. Go Rick.

  2. makes more sense says:

    I think its embarrassing that Mn doesn’t have a primary election.

    1. Truth Hurts says:

      I think it’s embarassing that MN voters always THINK they’re more important than they actually are. We love to live under the delusion that we’re some hugely-important swing state when, in fact, were just a bit more important that Delaware.

      1. Tom says:

        @ Truth Hurts

        That is true! MN is not an important state!

  3. Accidental Resident says:

    Keep it up, Mr. Santorum. Hopefully I can vote in November and won’t have to hold my nose to do so.

    1. not an accidental resident says:

      The only reason you might have to hold you nose Accident, is because he’s Mormon and that scares you. Admit! Romney’s cut from the very same cloth.,

  4. Andy says:

    We should be embarrassed of ourselves Minnesota, Rick santorum? Shameful.

    1. Haywood Jablome says:

      This might be the first time Andy and I agree. “…a caucus win that at least temporarily shakes up the race for the GOP presidential nomination.” Really? Why do local media outlets always over-estimate the importance of MN voters at the national level? It seems like they’re always touting us as a “key” state. It’s total B.S. and completely arrogant. Nice job, Minnesota. I hope you didn’t mind standing in line and voting for nothing, because Santorum’s going to be out of the race in the next few weeks. Romney and Gingrich were actually smart not to waste their time here. Once again, nice work MN GOP!

    2. Independent voter says:

      I agree…and this is also the same state that has a lunatic supposedly “representing” the 6th.

    3. Oh says:

      Mr. Hope and Change wants to create a nation humbled; humiliated, casting-aside capitalism and individual freedoms for one where we the people are government controlled. This would be a system that genuflects mediocrity, steals personal aspiration and opportunity, and punishes those who strive to succeed.

      A gallon of regular gasoline the day Obama was inaugurated was $1.79 on average in the U.S. Today that price is $3.59, a 100.6% increase. The number of food stamp recipients has risen since Obama took office from 31,983,716 to 43,200,878, a 35.1% jump. Long term unemployment soared 146.2% during the same 32 month period from 2,600,000 to 6,400,000. Staggering hope and change isn’t it?

      American citizens living in poverty have risen 9.5% from 39,800,000 to 43,600,000, and the number of unemployed has jumped almost 25% from 11,616,000 to 14,485,000 as of August 31, 2011. The number of unemployed blacks has risen from 12.6% at the end of George Bush’s term to 15.8% today, a 25.4% increase, and finally, our national debt is up 34.4% from 10.627 trillion to 14,278 trillion *

  5. barrister says:

    Santorums a joke as are all Rublicans!

    1. Nancy says:

      talk about ‘joke’ we have the biggest JOKE we’ve ever had as president in our White House right now!!! that will end come Nov thank heavens!!!

      1. Tom says:

        @ Nancy

        Comparing Obama to BUSH is a stretch! The majority of us know that Social Conservatives do not like smart people in office!

        1. dhillips says:

          Ha! and Bush wasnt a joke? Wake up lady! He was the Village Idiot!!!

      2. tan pup says:

        !REALLY? Oh, and GW was a smooth operator? He got US into a huge war, which caused this huge deficit; $5 gallon gas which pays for the terrorists toys AKA Booms, spit on the constitution – privacy, bailed out the mortgage AND the car companies; support legislation that gave companies tax breaks for taking job OUT of the county, while thousands lost their jobs! Cut taxes on the wealthy; and Nancy, I have news for YOU; you weren’t one of those 1%. Unemployment over 10%, cut unemployment benefits, tried to CRAM HIS religious beliefs on an entire nation of 300 million people, dumbed down the education system, AKA NCLB – um there are so much more. I wish I could wake up and realize that it WAS all a big JOKE, but no, that is reality and the reality that we all have to deal with while Bush and his followers live comfortably with their tax paid lifetime benefits! Get a clue woman – I’m not happy with Obama, but unfortunately, I do believe he is actually TRYING to help. And YES I can look at it objectively, because my world doesn’t exist around belonging to any political party – I can think for myself.

        1. dhillips says:

          And you forget how Bush tried to cram HSAs down our throats! A program only for the rich! Glad that idiot went back to his village!

      3. barrister says:

        kepp dreaming GO OBAMA!!!!!

  6. Steve says:

    So the turnout this year is lower than the turnout for 2008. It just to shows that the Republicians are not happy with anyone.

  7. kevin says:

    Barrister, you are just a liberal whiner like so many others. You think by whinning your a greasy wheel that makes the world go round. Your whole left wing liberal views are a rust on society and needs to be polished off to make this country great again.

    1. barrister says:

      And we had 8 GREAT YEARS under Bush? Go OBAMA!!!

  8. DEEP says:

    Remember folks, delegates is the game! GO RON PAUL 2012! A STRONG 2nd for RON PAUL! I am proud of my brothers and sisters in Henn County and all over Mn that support Ron Paul!

    1. barrister says:

      The old prospector needs to go back to the mine!!

  9. Schae says:

    Rick Santorum is the male equivalent of Michele Bachmann. I do agree with Steve that it shows that the Republicans are not happy with anyone. I’m not happy with ANY of them, including Obama. Also, wasn’t Santorum listed as one of the most CORRUPT politicians? Search for it on google.

  10. Tom says:

    That is funny when the Conservatives in this State wanted to prove that they are just as Socially Conservative as their counterparts in IA are. That is nothing to brag about as both groups are equallly nuts!

  11. Joan says:

    Thank you, Minnesota. Mr. Santorum has shown great courage throughout this primary race. Often snubbed by the liberal media, even at the debates, he continually presented a cogent conservative message. I admire him in so many ways and believe he would make an outstanding President.

    1. JGE says:

      Great courage? I guess it does take something (I don’t know if I’d call it courage) to laugh at a mother that has a child w cancer. All of his hypocrisy and talk about being a “Christian” was unveiled with that exchange between him and that mother. What a disgrace. Santorum:protecting life from conception to birth…after that you’re on your own!!

    2. Real Talk says:

      Joan….you do even know what Santorum is?? Look it up…it is disgusting!!!!

      Anyone who would vote for THAT…is a perv & a creep. Grow up Joan

      1. Tom says:

        @ JGE and Real Talk

        That is why social conservatives love Santorum because they believe everything that he says. We all know that Social Conservatives believe if you are not like them, you are the one who has the problem.

    3. dhillips says:

      Santorum is just another wealthy hypocrite out to help himself!!!

  12. G Dog says:

    Republicans have no heart.

  13. Ace says:

    To me if Santorum is the candidate, that means more votes for Obama, I’m a conservative leaning independent and I’d have to hold my nose and vote for Obama if Santorum is the candidate. Romney is the only one I’d consider.

  14. V says:

    Interesting report, so by the actual numbers is MN total population is 5,344,861and only 47,800 voted, that means he won less that 1% of the total population in the state… good to know that only 1% of this state is conservative

    1. ROB says:

      And if we take in consideration that he only won 50% of the votes, he only really won .05% of the State of MN voters…. WOW, big numbers MR. Santorum

  15. barrister says:

    And Ron Paul says he will cut a trillion dollars from the budget in his first years?How many job cuts will that entail? Paul needs to go back to his wifes fish sticks factory!

  16. kevin says:

    Barrister, the first job Ron Paul will cut is yours, opps I mean your welfare check and food stamps, And yes the 8 years before Otaxme I did well in the stock market and Bush showed you liberals what a spine looks like.

  17. me says:

    The article’s headline is misleadind. Conservatives don’t have hearts.

  18. aeiou says:

    Santorum got glitter bombed in CO and not one nutcase has yelled about it.

    C’mon haters, you’re letting me down.

  19. james2 says:

    I see “social conservatives” as hanging on to the roots on a cliff overlooking the ocean. This is the Republican Party slowly die-ing off for the younger, “social libertarians” who will then really give liberals a go for their money, And that’s why they like RPaul, because he represents change.

    At the moment, I am being patient for the Republican Party to be fiscally conservative and socially libertarian. The change is blowing in the wind.

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