Rick Santorum's Rise Is No Surprise

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Presidential candidate Rick Santorum's recent surge in the polls and victories in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri left many pundits scratching their heads.

This surge can be attributed to a number of factors including President Obama's attack on religious freedom which has thrust social issues to the forefront of national debate. The Obama administration's contraceptive mandate has united Evangelicals and Catholics as never before. Just this week at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, Family Research Council was joined by several other Evangelical leaders in releasing a letter signed by more than 2,500 Evangelical church leaders calling on the president to reverse this mandate. Not because Evangelicals necessarily share the same biblical view of contraception, but because they share the same understanding of the U.S. Constitution's protection of our inalienable right to the freedom of religion. With moral and social matters moving to the forefront of the political debate, it should not be surprising that voters are gravitating toward the candidate that has most clearly united the social and economic issues in this primary.

[See pictures of Rick Santorum.]

Rick Santorum's rise in the polls is also another indication that voters remain uncomfortable with Mitt Romney. Even though former Governor Romney has been running for president for years, he has a polling threshold that he just can't get past. People aren't comfortable with him because his record is very different from his campaign platform. That is not to say that conservatives are saying his platform isn't authentic but it clearly is an obstacle when campaign rhetoric and historical record do not match.

Former Senator Santorum is seeing growing support not because voters agree with everything he says but because of his authenticity. Rick Santorum also doesn't have a lot of baggage that weighs him down. Social conservatives aren't looking for a candidate that can walk on water, but they are looking for a candidate who won't sink under the weight of his own baggage. He also has that blue collar background that doesn't fit the mold of a conservative Republican which appeals to those socially conservative Democrats that are being driven from their party by the radical policies of President Obama and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

When other candidates were firing on all cylinders about the economy and foreign policy in countless debates, Santorum took the time to draw attention to how social issues—the family and religious liberty—are intertwined with fiscal and national security issues in a Ronald Reagan three-chord message. Throughout the race, Santorum has consistently addressed the full spectrum of conservatism, and has earned respect for it.

Family Research Council Action has long held a policy of not endorsing presidential candidates so I have not endorsed a candidate. However, we endorse a set of principles, and policy ideas that uphold faith, family and freedom.

When Santorum lost his 2006 bid for the reelection in the Senate, he said that the one thing he didn't lose were his principles. Because of that, he's winning today.

Tony Perkins

About Tony Perkins President of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council Action

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Santorum, Rick
Romney, Mitt

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