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Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

Does Santorum Have Evangelical Women's Vote in the Bag?

  • (Photo: Reuters/Matt Sullivan)
    Supporters listen as Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum during a Tea Party Rally in Columbus, Ohio February 18, 2012.
February 20, 2012|4:10 pm

Rick Santorum's campaign has taken on a whole new dimension within the last two weeks. His surprise sweep of Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota has placed him front and center in a GOP primary, but he still needs to wrap up a greater percentage of women – specifically, evangelical women.

Santorum's legislative credentials on issues such as partial birth abortion and traditional marriage give him tons of credibility within the ranks of female social conservatives.

Still, some evangelical women have drifted toward Romney or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, saying those candidates were best suited to address health care and economic issues and defeat President Obama in November. Now that mindset seems to be changing.

Penny Nance, the CEO of Concerned Women for America, has known and worked with Santorum for a number of years. Although the organization she leads doesn't endorse candidates, Nance has personally thrown her support behind the former Pennsylvania senator and she thinks the next few weeks will be a "make-or-break" period for both Romney and Santorum.

"What happens with Michigan will have a huge impact on the remainder of the GOP primary," Nance told The Christian Post. "I think Romney's electability and invincibility will be thoroughly tested in the next few weeks. If after Super Tuesday we're still having to ask who our nominee will be, then it probably won't be Romney."

Nance's comments were in reference to what many pundits believe is Romney's biggest disadvantage – his inability after eight months to secure the GOP nomination by not demonstrating he will stand up and fight for the party's conservative factions.

Michelle Smith, a city councilwoman in Rockford, Texas describes herself as an evangelical female activist and is also backing Santorum.

"As a believer, when I look to a candidate, I want to know what they believe. His (Santorum's) stance on partial birth abortion were what first attracted me to his candidacy," Smith told The Christian Post. "These issues just speak volumes as to the type of person he is."

However, Smith's socially conservative views aren't the only reason she's supporting Santorum.

"Look, I understand as well as anyone that the economic challenges we face are a top priority for our nation," she continued. "But I know if Rick Santorum will go to the mat over abortion issues, then he will do the same on fiscal matters. Do I think he can take on and defeat Obama in November? Absolutely."

But not every evangelical woman is attracted to Santorum candidacy. Pam Mangham of Birmingham, Ala., a housewife who considers herself an evangelical, is supporting Romney.

"The social issues are very important to me, but it's not the most important issue to me in this election," Mangham told CP. "Mr. Romney has a good business mind and to me he shows more maturity than the other candidates. He may not have the foreign policy experience that Gingrich or Santorum have, but with his business skills, I think he'll pull a good team together."

In addition to Romney supporters, Santorum needs to convince Gingrich supporters that he is their best choice – especially prior to Super Tuesday's contest for 400 plus delegates.

Speaking to a large gathering on Sunday in the former speaker's backyard in Georgia, Santorum took advantage of his strategy in winning over some Gingrich supporters.

"I know Newt and I like him, but Rick Santorum is getting my vote," Marietta, Ga., resident Janet Johnson told The Daily Beast. "When I see Santorum, I feel like I can connect with him as a real person. The things he says speak to me and my values and to my heart."

Santorum's comments at First Redeemer Church in Cumming, Ga., on Sunday highlighted his supporters' desire that he address another issue that is important to women; and that is health care.

"He (Obama) has shoved his health care plan down America's throats," said Santorum regarding the recent decision on insurance coverage for contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization. Santorum also cited the issue as another reason that the Obama administration is "hostile to faith."

Yet, while winning over evangelical women is a priority, he also needs them to take action voting and working on his campaign.

"Your country needs you," he said. "It's not as clear a challenge. But remember that the greatest generation for a year and a half sat on the sidelines and did almost nothing … what are you going to do?"

In the latest Inside Michigan Politics poll taken last week, Santorum held a 10-point lead over Romney, 43 to 33 percent.

In a Landmark/Rosetta Stone poll taken in Georgia on Feb. 9, Gingrich led with 35 percent, Santorum was second with 26 percent and Romney third with sixteen percent, although these numbers have probably changed in the last week.

@authorstanley (Twitter)
Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/does-santorum-have-evangelical-womens-vote-in-the-bag-69876/