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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

Santorum at Town Hall: We Always Need a Jesus Candidate

  • (Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
    Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum listens to a question during a campaign stop at Rockingham County Nursing Home in Brentwood, New Hampshire January 4, 2012. Santorum scored a major victory by taking Iowa's Republican nominating contest right down to the wire on Tuesday.
January 6, 2012|3:23 pm

While New Hampshire may not be the friendly oasis for evangelical voters that Iowa was, former Pennsylvania Rick Santorum is not leaving his Christianity at the door in an attempt to sway voters.

At a town hall meeting in Windham on Thursday night, Santorum responded to one gentleman who called into a radio program earlier in the week saying the nation didn’t need a “Jesus” candidate, but rather an “economic” candidate. “Sir, we always need a Jesus candidate,” Santorum confidently replied. “It’s not that we need a Christian, but someone who believes in something more than themselves.”

The exchange highlights two of the issues Santorum is trying to bridge as he takes his surge going into the more liberal Northeast to the bastion of the conservative politics of the South – to protect and grow his conservative evangelical base while reaching out to those whose primary concern is the economy and healthcare.

In reality, it may not be as difficult as first imagined.

Immediately after the town hall meeting, the exhausted candidate ran directly to a teleconference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition and moderated by the group’s charismatic leader, Ralph Reed, and the group’s executive director, Gary Marx.

Prior to Santorum joining the approximately 12,000 people who were on the call, Marx polled those on the line by asking the group to rank the issue that was going to impact their decision on who to support in this year’s presidential race.

While not scientific, the results send a loud message that social conservatives are interested in more than just abortion and gay marriage.

Repealing “Obamacare” was the top issue with 37 percent of the vote, followed by a predictable 27 percent who said protecting moral issues such as life and the sanctity of marriage were high on their agenda.

However, two other economic issues, cutting spending and job creation, received 21 and 12 percent of the vote, signaling that an astounding 70 percent of those responding said issues affecting the economy such as jobs and health care were top of mind.

But that doesn’t come as a surprise to many evangelical leaders.

Tony Perkins, who leads the Family Research Council, has long contended that economic issues are in essence social issues.

“Social issues are intertwined with fiscal issues,” Perkins told The Christian Post in July of last year.

“People understand that the reason we have big expensive government is because we have neglected and in many ways, discouraged family formation, and that core economic foundation, which is the family,” Perkins also told The Hill last summer.

Nevertheless, Santorum still has to convince voters in New Hampshire and in other primary states that he is the person who can put more money in their pocketbooks.

Part of that equation involves expanding the nation’s manufacturing base by completely eliminating some taxes on manufacturing and tax breaks for corporations that use overseas profits to purchase manufacturing equipment.

“He’s really pushing the manufacturing agenda,” Dan Cabanel, a NH financial professional, told The Wall Street Journal. “They all want to cut spending. They all want to cut taxes. But you’ve got to have another plan to really jump start the U.S. economy.”

But Santorum is still sticking by his Christian values. “Mr. Santorum is the truest of the true social conservatives,” Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote in The Wall Street Journal today and told The Christian Post last night.

“In the House and then in the Senate, he was always willing to fight the battles closest to social conservatives’ hearts, even when he was virtually alone in doing so,” Land added.

Santorum’s dual strategy may be working. In the latest Rasmussen Reports poll, he is at 21 percent in support, second only to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney who as 29 percent nationally.

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/santorum-at-town-hall-we-always-need-a-jesus-candidate-66582/