Election 2012
3:00 pm
Sat January 14, 2012

Social Conservatives Vote To Back Santorum

Originally published on Sat January 14, 2012 7:14 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Now, as the Romney campaign has been building momentum, religious conservatives remain deeply uncomfortable with him as the prospective Republican nominee. Today in Texas, evangelical leaders met. And as NPR's Joel Rose reports, they threw their support behind former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: More than 150 evangelical leaders met at a ranch outside Houston hoping to find one Republican presidential candidate they could rally around. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council says he was doubtful until it happened.

TONY PERKINS: What I did not think was possible appears to be possible. After a vigorous and passionate discussion, there emerged a strong consensus around Rick Santorum.

ROSE: Santorum earned the support of more than two-thirds of the attendees. Newt Gingrich finished a distant second. On a conference call with reporters, Perkins said evangelicals are hoping to avoid a replay of 2008 when social conservatives split their votes between several candidates allowing the more moderate Senator John McCain to win the Republican nomination. When asked if today's endorsement might come too late to stop Mitt Romney's momentum, Perkins said no. Still, Santorum has a lot of catching up to do if he's going to win next weekend's South Carolina primary. Recent polls show him trailing Romney there by more than 10 points. Joel Rose, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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