Why Santorum Appeals to Women and Evangelicals

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Published January 04, 2012

| FoxNews.com

I don’t want to brag — well, maybe I do — but as I predicted, Iowans rallied their support around Senator Rick Santorum

Coming in second to Mitt Romney by only eight votes, Sen. Santorum made a remarkable leap out of last place and into second in Iowa in little over a week. 

In a year of surges, Santorum seems to have timed his perfectly. But what’s behind this new support for someone who had to fight for air time during each and every debate?

The picture didn’t look good. Yes, Santorum recently became popular, but he was slapped as a “big spender” by Bachmann and Perry. And a Des Moines Register poll released just three days prior to the caucus showed that 41 percent of Iowans were undecided or could be persuaded to change their minds. 

What were they lacking? Confidence. It’s something we already lack under the current administration and thus a quality we crave from our next candidate.

In conservative circles, it’s common to hear embarrassed explanations for our various candidates of choice. Common statements include, “I know he’s boring and believes in nothing, but we have to connect with independents,” or “Yes, he says dumb stuff and has a woman problem, but we need a businessman.” And, frankly, people get sick of candidates speaking of themselves in the third person, forgetting their own plans, and comparing themselves to football players. It’s cringe-inducing.

After playing the field for weeks, women in Iowa finally settled down with their man. In fact, CNN entrance polls showed that the majority of women were supporting Santorum at twenty-seven percent (despite the sweater vest). It wasn’t a woman candidate this time, but I’m convinced that it will happen. 

Michele Bachmann was a serious candidate, a fierce competitor, and an excellent communicator. She made everyone in the race better, because she made them define their conservative credentials. This wasn’t her year, but mark my words, her day will come.

Santorum’s appeal to women and evangelicals centers on a desire for authenticity. Rick’s been consistent in behavior and record. His stance on the sanctity of life and traditional marriage gained the voters’ attention. 

His personal story of a strong marriage and eight children, including baby Gabriel, who died, and beautiful Bella, who is severely handicapped and the apple of her father’s eye is beyond reproach. His record in the U.S. Senate is one of unwavering support of conservative principles. His foreign policy acumen is equal to anyone on the debate stage.

He did finish well, but he didn’t finish first. As my father always joked, second place is the first loser. Mitt Romney was the winner last night. 

The man many are calling “most electable” came out on top in Iowa.

Many of my Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) members respect Mitt’s savvy business skills, but they are having a hard time wrapping their minds around him as a whole package. 

They can’t ignore that it was the former Massachusetts governor who championed health care reform that cost the state $4.3 billion and 18,000 jobs. Nor can they ignore his past support for so-called “domestic partnerships” or the fact that after the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s paper tiger ruling on “gay marriage,” he ordered Justices of the Peace in the state to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples or be fired.

With evangelical Christians being one of the largest voting blocs in America, “the Mormon thing” may be an issue, but I am not convinced this is what has held him back. However, some of my CWALAC ladies would love to understand the whole “eternal pregnancy in heaven thing,” which, admittedly, to me sounds more like damnation than heaven.

No one is perfect, but explaining the Santorum surge is easy when you see how every other candidate comes with more baggage than Louis Vuitton.

Newt Gingrich has, rightly, been forgiven for his previous marital failures, but can conservatives truly forget? Of the remaining candidates, however, I actually believe Newt has the best chance of resurgence.

Ron Paul’s “new isolationism” is scaring security moms, and he has made us all blanch over his views on the legalization of drugs and prostitution. What may ultimately be his downfall is his misplaced view of the 10th Amendment versus the federal government’s correct role in protecting individual liberty as exemplified by forced integration. While he did come in third, it seems like the only “President Paul” America will vote into office someday might be Rand, not Ron.

All Republican candidates would do well to remember who they’re trying to beat — ultimately an incumbent president — and maintain decorum on the campaign trail. After all, it was Ronald Reagan who maintained the 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

Apparently, some media pundits have decided to go in another direction on the issue of civility. Most recently, Alan Colmes was forced to apologize for stating that in 1996 Santorum brought his dead baby boy home to “play with it.”

Colmes’ cold, heartless comment couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, when a voter asked why the Santorum family made the decision to bring their deceased newborn home, Santorum’s wife Karen, broke down in tears, and Santorum courageously responded that he made the (no doubt) difficult decision because it was important that his six other children understand that they had a brother, and allow Rick and his wife a brief time of emotional healing.

Hopefully, Colmes now realizes that parents’ recovery after the loss of a child isn’t for him to judge. I plan to “have a word with him” on this point the next time I see him in the Fox News green room.

I predicted last night’s results, which truly surprised some of the mainstream media, because I had confidence in the people of Iowa.

I also have great confidence in our democratic process. Only eight people decided the winner and loser in Iowa. Isn’t that awesome?

Let us all remember that every vote counts and that regardless of which candidate we each choose, we do have a responsibility to choose. Alexis de Tocqueville said, “In democracy we get the government we deserve.” Let us pray we deserve better leadership than we have had these past three years. May God bless America.

Penny Nance is CEO and President of Concerned Women for America.

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