Entries in Social Conservatives (5)


Perry and Santorum Make Appeal to Social Conservatives

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) -- Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, two of the Republican field’s social conservative heavyweights, made their pitches Sunday morning to a crowd of evangelical voters.

When Perry entered the race in early August, he was viewed by many to be the ideal choice for evangelical voters, but mishaps in debates and questions about electability knocked him off his perch atop the Republican field. That cleared the way for an alternative social conservative candidate like Santorum, and Saturday a group of conservative and religious leaders announced they had decided to coalesce around him as their favorite.

“People ask me how are we going to unite us together, remind every American who we are? This president reminds us of what divides us, not what unites us. You here in South Carolina have the choice to select someone who can unite us,” Santorum told the crowd gathered in a convention center ballroom.

“I was very blessed yesterday that a group of conservative leaders, about 150 or so got together and in many ways miraculously were able to come together,” he said. “I don’t know if that ever happens with a group of Christian leaders. They were able to miraculously come together and stand in support of my candidacy.

“We have an opportunity for South Carolina to stand behind a candidate that has consistently, courageously, forcefully, publicly, and led the fight for the values of the people who are going to vote next Saturday,” he said. “The question is whether the people of South Carolina will vote their conscience.”

Perry, who also spoke to the convention center gathering, said in an interview with Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he would not let the lost endorsement sidetrack his campaign.

“Well, obviously you’d like to get every endorsement of the groups that are in line with your beliefs. But you’re not going to do that. So our focus is on the people of South Carolina,” Perry said in the interview.

Perry and Santorum, who sat at the same table before their speeches, each appealed to the social conservative crowd to allow their values to guide their decision in the primary, a quiet contrast to the candidate who is leading in South Carolina polls — Mitt Romney.

Santorum repeatedly said the crowd should vote for the candidate, referring to himself, who speaks “our language,” sending a clear message that he believes he is the candidate who understands the social conservative movement and is aligned with them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gingrich Courts Iowa Conservatives; Critics Label Him ‘Pro-Life Fraud’

ABC News(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- As Newt Gingrich stood before a crowd of hundreds of social conservatives less than three weeks before Iowans gather for the state’s first-in-the nation caucuses, the challenge he faces came into stark relief.

Gingrich told the crowd on Wednesday night that he and like-minded Republicans were “engaged in a cultural struggle with a secular elite that believes that life is random and has no moral meaning.”

But outside a historic auditorium in downtown Des Moines where Gingrich promised to support congressional action to pass a bill that “defines personhood,” critics of the former House speaker placed pamphlets on car windshields that attacked Gingrich as a “a pro-life fraud.”

The pamphlets, which were authorized and paid for by the group Iowans for Life, accused Gingrich of campaigning for “pro-partial birth abortion candidates,” urging “fellow Republicans to drop the pro-life issue because it was too divisive,” and leaving any mention of abortion out of his book, Winning the Future.

“Newt Gingrich used his position as Speaker to keep taxpayer dollars flowing to Planned Parenthood, and has publicly stated he supports taxpayer funding for abortions under certain instances,” the leaflets, printed on bright pastel-colored paper, read.

Gingrich has recently been taking steps to consolidate his support among social conservatives and evangelical Christians.

Over the course of the week, he offered his support for two pledges: an anti-gay marriage vow created by the Iowa organization The Family Leader, and a personhood pledge sponsored by the group Personhood USA.

“The 14th Amendment clearly allows the Congress to define personhood,” Gingrich said Wednesday night. “That should mean that we can pass a bill defining personhood as beginning at conception and we don’t need a constitutional amendment.”

Gingrich was one of four presidential candidates to address the forum in Des Moines -- an event laden with imagery and songs that wove together themes of patriotism and conservatism with a staunchly anti-abortion rights message.

Audience members came not only to hear the presidential candidates but also watch a new documentary film, The Gift Of Life, which was produced by the Washington, D.C.-based conservative group Citizens United and narrated by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who also spoke at the event.

According to recent ABC News polling, Gingrich leads among evangelicals in Iowa, but their support still remains largely divided among several candidates. Their influence over the final outcome of the caucuses could be large if they unify. Four years ago, 60 percent of GOP caucus-goers identified themselves as evangelicals.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iowa Social Conservatives Group Around a Non-Romney Candidate

James Devaney/WireImage(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Iowa social conservatives originally came together on Monday to pray and to try to choose one candidate to support in the Jan. 3 caucuses. But the meeting turned into a discussion about getting behind one candidate with the goal of preventing Mitt Romney from winning the caucuses and going on to win the GOP nomination.

Originally reported by CNN, the meeting was confirmed by attendees who said 20 to 25 social conservatives did come together in Des Moines on Monday.

Kerry Jech, the senior minister of the New Hope Christian Church in Marshalltown, described the meeting’s initial premise as “an effort to pray and seek the Lord’s will, because there are a lot of people who are confused and not sure who to support.

“The original intention was just to come around and see if there was a common person that we could support. That was the original intention, and it became obvious that we share some of the views in some areas. We didn’t come up with a common person that we would support just yet, but it felt like there had been some areas of agreement,” Jech said.

Jech said the group had narrowed down the decision to Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. Jech said trying to make sure Romney was not the victor on Jan. 3 was not the “primary goal,” but it was discussed and became part of the meeting’s conversation.

“We were looking for some agreement that we needed to find some commonality …  so that individuals who don’t share our values on some of these key primary areas … are not the ones nominated,” Jech said. "As the discussion went along that was something we all agreed upon.”

Romney campaign’s spokesman Ryan Williams responded by saying “Gov. Romney is running a 50-state campaign."

“He’s going to be competitive in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and in all other nominating contests. He’s reaching out to each and every voter to build the support needed to win the Republican nomination,” Williams said.

Jech said that Romney’s Mormon faith was not part of the decision.

“There may be some for whom that is a huge factor, but I can tell you in the meeting we had we talked about it, and that wasn’t an issue,” Jech said. “Adamantly, every person there agreed it wasn’t the religion aspect of it. It was the viewpoint on issues, specifically his definition of marriage and pro-life."

“Now that doesn’t mean Mitt Romney hasn’t agreed [with us] on those topics from time to time, but what’s bothering is he’s also been in the camp as governor of Massachusetts where he’s signed into legislation or been on record as supporting it,” Jech said, referring to same-sex marriage. “The idea that he has waffled on this issue … for me, and I know for a lot of people, these are core issues where there can’t be compromise. Whenever their viewpoint seems to shift it seems like their core values aren’t the same.”

Romney has repeatedly said he is against same-sex marriage, and that he tried to prevent Massachusetts from passing that legislation when he was in office.

Jech said the group may meet again on Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Santorum Reaffirms Commitment to Social Conservative Cause

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Santorum, who espoused social conservative causes during his time in Congress, reaffirmed his commitment to pro-life and marriage issues when he spoke to a crowd at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C. Saturday morning.

“I just don’t take the pledge. I take the bullets,” Santorum said. “I stand out in front and I lead to make sure the voices of those who do not have a voice are out in front and being included in the national debate.”

During his two terms as a senator from Pennsylvania, Santorum was a vocal opponent of abortion rights and supported the preservation of traditional marriage.

Typically pegged as the candidate of social conservatives, Santorum pledged to differentiate himself from this typeset during the campaign.

He delved into foreign policy in his speech, talking about the need to maintain America’s strong relationship with Israel, but stayed away from touching on the debt limit or jobs.

“Americans have now realized that what they need is not someone they can believe in, but they need a president who believes in them,” Santorum said.  “If we don’t win this election, what we will have done is given away the great gift of America.”

Santorum will make his presidential campaign official Monday morning in Somerset, Pa. -- a place of personal significance for him. It was in Somerset County where Santorum’s grandfather first settled in America after emigrating from Italy.

Santorum will appear on Good Morning America for an exclusive interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Monday morning before his announcement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Social Conservatives Vow Fight for Defense of Marriage Act

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the immediate aftermath of President Obama's decision this week to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, many Republicans offered a muted reaction that has some wondering whether conservative opposition to same-sex marriage has waned.

But several of the party's high-profile social conservatives are vowing to make a robust effort on behalf of the law.

"There are some options available to us legislatively that we're looking at,'' said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor during an address at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government Thursday. He did not offer details.

The Justice Department said Wednesday that it determined the 1996 act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman for federal purposes, is unconstitutional and therefore no longer necessitates a legal defense in court.

A House GOP aide familiar with the discussions said congressional lawyers were grappling with how to proceed in uncharted legal territory.

"Because Congress as an institution has lost its counsel to defend its law," the aide said. "Congress as an institution may have to step in and say, 'we will defend our own law.' But there's little precedent for that."

Another alternative being considered, the aide said, is allowing an outside interest group to stand in for Justice Department lawyers and continue to carry the cases through the court system.

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, confirmed the GOP deliberations and said he expects the party leadership will intervene.

"We've been in a lot of discussions with leadership, with members of Congress, and look, they're looking at the case, they're making decisions as we speak," Brown said on ABC News' Top Line. "I expect them to step in and defend the law."

While some conservatives weigh whether to fill the void left by the government lawyers and defend DOMA before a judge, others have vowed to pressure the Obama administration to reverse course and penalize the Justice Department for its action.

"We have the authority to do a few things," said Iowa Rep. Steve King, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, in an interview. "One is to begin to reduce the Justice Department's budget. The resources that they would be using to defend the DOMA law in court are not necessary to appropriate to them."

King said he plans to introduce an amendment to the 2012 appropriations bill to "send them a message."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio