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Sunday, Oct 26, 2014

Conservative Candidates to Unite Against Romney Amid 'Santorum Surge?'

  • (Photo: Reuters / Sean Gardner)
    In this file photo, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaks during the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 17, 2011.
January 6, 2012|3:03 pm

With evangelical voters across the country rallying behind GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum after his unexpectedly strong finish in Iowa, some are wondering if other social conservative candidates in the race will do the same.

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and executive editor of The Christian Post, appeared on MSNBC's “Andrea Mitchell Reports” to discuss that possibility.

Land told Mitchell that social conservatives were “pinching themselves” after Santorum's improbable Iowa performance, in which the former Pennsylvania senator lost by a mere eight votes. Land described Santorum as the “truest of true social conservatives” in the race.

Santorum's second place victory also indicates the strength of the evangelical vote in the Republican primary, Land said, despite former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney squeaking by with the most votes in Iowa.

“If you combine the votes that Santorum, Gingrich, Perry, and Bachmann got, you outvote Romney 2-to-1,” Land said.

Although Romney has long been considered too moderate on issues that social conservatives hold dear – such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and the prevention of universal health care – he has often been considered the most electable of all the Republican candidates.

However, Land said that social conservatives do not want to make the same mistake they made in 2008 with Mike Huckabee, who despite winning Iowa and being considered the most socially conservative candidate in the race, was not thought of as electable.

“What I've heard over and over again is that we don't want to make the same mistake this time that we made with Huckabee in 2008,” Land said. “People didn't rally around Huckabee, the true social conservative, because they didn't think he could win until it was too late and McCain already had the nomination sewed up.”

Land said that there is still time to decide which social conservative candidate is the best choice, but hopes that the choice is made soon.

“It’s a little more diverse this time and we don't have to make the decision this early,” Land said, adding, “But at some point, earlier rather than later, we need to try to unite all the social conservative forces around one candidate and have this great debate that so many people want to see between Romney and the non-Romney.”

Land acknowledged that it could be difficult to convince one candidate to back an opposing candidate so early in the race, but if Santorum continues to surge, that could happen as soon as the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary ends.

“If, in South Carolina, Santorum outperforms Gingrich and Perry, I would think social conservative leaders could convince Gingrich to drop out of the race and join forces with Santorum in Florida,” Land said.

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/conservative-candidates-to-unite-against-romney-amid-santorum-surge-66596/