Santorum Amplifies Faith In Way GOP Rivals Don’t

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Rick Santorum stirs his ever-growing crowds when he promises to right a country awash in “immoral debt” and to replace an administration he argues has “callousness toward life and family and faith.”

Of the GOP presidential hopefuls, Santorum is by far the most public and emphatic about his faith, drawing on his Catholicism and deeply held views on social issues as the foundation of his message. It serves to solidify his standing among religiously motivated voters — and subtly remind them of lingering reservations of opponent Mitt Romney’s spiritual background.

The former Pennsylvania senator is sure to find a receptive audience Friday in Washington, when he addresses the Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual gathering. But those remarks could sound a lot like Santorum’s speeches of late, particularly those delivered in a two-day visit to Bible Belt states of Texas and Oklahoma.

When the GOP field was at its fullest, several candidates were fighting to be the favorite of religious conservative voters. Now, Santorum is moving to consolidate that wing of the party, which could make him a force in places like Alabama, Kansas, Oklahoma and others on the upcoming primary calendar.

On Friday, he said he wanted to stick to substantive issues in the campaign and said he wasn’t inclined to resort to the kind of negative advertising that others have employed so far this year.

Santorum said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show that he intended to stick to comparisons of his record with that of Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, saying he wants to discuss things Americans care about, “not this back and forth that we’ve seen” so far.

Santorum said he doesn’t want to try to win the nomination “by personally attacking people.” His Southern swing, which ended Thursday with a stop at Oral Roberts University, followed a stunning three-state sweep Tuesday in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri powered in part by his support among evangelical voters.

At the Christian liberal arts college, Santorum said his GOP competitors don’t seem “particularly comfortable” talking about faith issues like he does.

He welcomed questions about his unbending views against abortion and gay marriage, using the latter to blast a federal appeals court ruling striking down California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. He lashed out repeatedly at the Obama administration for a new rule requiring religious schools and hospitals to provide insurance coverage for birth control to their employees.

And Santorum offered a window into his religious underpinnings when a self-identified Democrat asked how his Catholic roots and his opposition to President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance law were compatible given Pope Benedict XVI’s view that health care is a human right.

“I believe that you have an obligation to approach every issue in public life as I do from the standpoint of both faith and reason. My conscience was formed as a result of my life experience primarily through faith,” Santorum answered. “I bring that to the table. Yes, that’s who I am.”

He added: “I have an obligation not to just look at things that way but also to bring reason. I always think if your faith is true and your reason is right you’ll end up at the same place.”

Gingrich is also Catholic, but social issues aren’t as integral to his campaign. Paul, a Baptist, mentions religion in passing as a way to make a point about liberty.

Worries about Romney’s Mormonism persist in some segments of the GOP even if they are less pronounced than in his 2008 bid. During that stunted campaign he delivered a major address intended to soothe concerns about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Voters showing up at Santorum events say his willingness to make faith central to his campaign make him more attractive.

“His values are my values,” said Valerie Benton, a retired teacher from Edmond, Okla. “It’s not like he’s forcing his beliefs on anybody.”

Such empathy shows through when Santorum employs what has become a favorite rhetorical device. He fondly quotes the Declaration of Independence to stress America was a nation founded on faith and its people are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” He lowers his own voice when he gets to “Creator” and his crowds fill it in with gusto.

Santorum scoffs at suggestions that his focus should be elsewhere in a race driven by economic issues. “Strong families and building a strong family unit is good for the economy,” he’ll say.

As the campaign moves on, Santorum shows no signs of altering his message. His first stop after his three-state sweep was a gathering of Texas pastors. They laid their hands on the candidate to pray for his future success and for the continued health of his youngest daughter, who was temporarily hospitalized for a respiratory illness a couple weeks ago.

Santorum told the pastors that he wasn’t running to be pastor in chief, but he suggested that religion needed to play a bigger role in public life.

“You guys could do a little better than you are right now,” Santorum told the pastors.

They erupted in laughter.

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

Comments

One Comment

  1. Veteran says:

    Santorum was voted one of the top ten corrupt politicians because of his love affair with Lobbyists. He voted for the bridge to nowhere. he thinks he can convert gays back to heterosexuality. This guy is crazy.

    But, The religous crowd like him because he his stauch on abortion and he wants to nuke Iran. Crazy, protect life in the womb and bomb innocent people in another country.

    1. Linda Lovelace says:

      Come on Rick. It’s not that big even fully at attention.
      You are using religion and then showing the size in the same article? Please don’t – I have never choked before but I may now

    2. RON PAUL OR ELSE says:

      Spot on Vet. I wonder if Jesus would endorse endless undeclared wars. I think the only time jesus became violent was when he kicked the money changers out of the temple. Sound like another candidate?

  2. G Dog says:

    The picture confirms what I suspected.

    1. Mini Rick says:

      That was after he spent an hour reading a Playboy
      smaller before of course
      everything about him his limp I guess

  3. Janice says:

    Agree with Veteran

    Plus this person wants a federal law to ban birth control and his “choice” is to have a woman die from pregnancy complications instead of receiving legal medical intervention. He is sick

  4. Frozenrunner says:

    When the religious right quits labeling groups of people as evil then I might believe them to be religious. When they work to end the suffering of others, I will believe they are religious.

  5. Reader says:

    …..confirms the disingenuity of right-wing claims to values. Profits are not concerned with social values, environmental values, even religious values. Profits are increased, short-term, by division of the labor force, oppression of political factions, scape-goating, control of media, dissemination of the party line to the exclusion of verifiable fact. The GOP has sadly become aligned with economic, informational and political repression. Their claim to Christian principle is equally invalid. What can long stand on a fabric of lies? Not even fascist police states have long-term lives. Short-term thinking currently rules government, and they will say or do literally anything to maintain their grip on We, the People. Prison labor has replaced union jobs. That used to be called slavery. Now the bondage is unofficial, but economic exploitation is nonetheless indentured servitude. Let my people go– Let there be light. Like it or not, we all eat at the same table. Profits have forced both parents to work, leaving children to be raised by TV. The cost to society of insufficiently socialized children outweighs the petty wage losses gained by employers. Etc., etc. No man can serve two masters. Post from the NY Times.

  6. tan pup says:

    MORAL VALUES – P L E A S E! Priest’s molesting children – how does he stand on that? He has NEVER came out and stated those MEN (of his faith – Catholic) – should be prosecuted to the extent of the law! Yet he condemns Gay people! He is the carp – bottom feeder – of the mindless sheep who will follow anyone who calls themselves a conservative Christian. If he truly was a conservative Christian – he would demand that all priests who molested children be removed from the pulpit and thrown behind bars for the rest of their lives; charities could be publically supported, children wouldn’t have to live in poverty; families wouldn’t be living in cars (and they are); the mentally disabled would not be spit on and living in the streets; schools would be adequately supported, education would be a priority; addictions would be treated; and poverty eliminated and no one would die in wars. That is being a Christian – following Christ – who was a pacifist and a socialist.

  7. james2 says:

    Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

    Barry Goldwater – Republican

  8. kevin says:

    If you want birth control, abortion get out of bed, both of you get a job and pay for it yourselves. Take responsibility for your own lives and stop thinking everyone else owes you anything.

    1. aeiou says:

      Excuse me? F@gs? Really? How creative. It takes one minute for a less than stellar, hate word throwing idiot to show up. And that goes for libs too.

    2. @Bill says:

      Hiya Bill, er kevin, errrr redneck, errrrr pathetic one. Have a great weekend lil’ boy! 😉

    3. Michele Bachmann says:

      LOL – you are the reason I may change my mind yet and support abortion lil’ kevin

  9. Jesus says:

    It is time to put God back into America. The rising is coming. And you will feel our wrath!

    1. Muhammed says:

      Praise Allah and the Republican Jihad aginst liberty. WooHoo! Bring it on!

  10. G Dog says:

    Ayatollah Santorum does have a nice ring to it…………………………in Iran.

  11. KEVIN says:

    BILL ZIP UP YOUR PANTS, GET A JOB AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR IRRESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOR. AND DON’T FOR GET TO VOTE REPUBLICAN FOR A REAL CHANGE INSTEAD OF ONE THAT TRASHES THE CONSTITUTION

  12. Hypocrite for President! says:

    Santorum and his wife had an abortion because of high risk to her life if she carried the fetus. BUT, no one else should be legally able to make that decision for any reason whatsoever including the reasoning behind theirs.

  13. Marie says:

    Maybe he wears heavy rubber gloves.

  14. old nurse says:

    “people are “endowed by their Creator ” “and his crowds fill it in with gusto”
    Maybe those 5 kids are really someones. Fun to cherrypick the quote

    1. ifeelwet says:

      Retire already….and get some depends

  15. kevin says:

    Any of you liberals out there notice that wcco has not posted a report of Obama’s attempt to talk his way out of forcing the Catholic church to supply contriception to there work force. Seems a little suspect to me.

    1. shwiehl says:

      Doesn’t seem suspect to me at all. If it was men having babies you sure as hell better believe the Catholic church would be in favor of paying for contraception. Here’s a news flash for you Kevin, women don’t want men telling us what to do in terms of contraception. Maybe if they showed more responsibility when it comes to raising children, then they could have a stronger voice. But you cry foul over contraception, and then lie silent over domestic abuse/neglect. Step up or shut up. I’m sick of hearing men preach to women about anything to do with child rearing. Start talking to your brothers; they’re the ones that need it. In the meantime, I will make choices about my body.

  16. Murph says:

    But his yodelling sounded very similar to the other entertainer complainers in the race! Will the GOP voters pick out the ultimate presidential loser from this group of mental midgets sometime soon? It is soooooo boring to have to listen to all their hateful gibberish and billionaire butt kissing loud smacks! Geez.

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