Rick Santorum Dogged by Gay Marriage Questions in New Hampshire

Santorum can't stop talking about homosexuality.

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Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is sticking with his message on gay marriage, but it doesn't seem to be helping him in New Hampshire. In campaign stops last week and two debates this weekend, the latest GOP candidate to rise in the polls kept up his talk about the socially conservative views that earned him a virtual tie with former Gov. Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses.

The result, according to a Suffolk University/7News poll released Monday, is that Santorum has slipped to fourth place in New Hampshire, with just 10 percent of the expected vote.

[Vote: Can Rick Santorum Win the 2012 GOP Nomination?]

Choruses of boos drowned out Santorum's voice at one stop in Concord late last week. When asked about his stance on gay marriage by a student Thursday, Santorum replied, "Well, what about three men?...If reason says that if you think it's OK for two, then you have to differentiate with me as to why it's not OK for three."

The LA Times reports that Santorum told a Manchester crowd who gathered on Saturday that having an imprisoned father was preferable to having no father at all, as in the case of a same-sex couple. Citing an anti-poverty expert, Santorum explained, "He found that even fathers in jail who had abandoned their kids were still better than no father at all to have in their children's lives."

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

Same-sex marriage has been legal in New Hampshire since Jan. 1, 2010, and an estimated 1,800 same-sex couples have been married in the state. At the ABC News/WMUR debate Saturday, Santorum argued for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and he consented that he'd like to see same-sex marriages in the state annulled.

Then, at the Meet the Press debate on Sunday, Andy Hiller—Channel 7 in Boston's political editor—asked Mr. Santorum, "What if you had a son who came to you and said he was gay?" In a seemingly chimerical departure from statements made during his time in New Hampshire, Santorum replied without hesitation: "I would love him as much as I did the second before he said it and I would try to do everything I can to be as good a father to him as possible."

[See a collection of political cartoons on gay marriage.]

Santorum's message on homosexuality appears to be working elsewhere. He left New Hampshire Sunday morning to make a few campaign stops in South Carolina, where he is surging in the polls. An American Research Group poll released Friday shows that Santorum has jumped 23 percentage points in the state, going from just 1 percent in November to his current 24 percent, putting him in a tie with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and narrowing Mitt Romney's lead to just a 7 percent margin.

  • Read: Who Is Rick Santorum?
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