Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum spent the eve of the Fox News South Carolina Republican presidential debate having dinner at the home of one of the state's most respected pro-life advocates.

Santorum broke bread with Lisa Van Riper, the president of South Carolina Citizens for Life, the state chapter of the National Right to Life.

"I feel like I bring something different to the country than everybody else, it's not just checking the boxes, but it's passion and leadership and courage to take on those issues when they're popular and when they're not popular," said Santorum.

Van Riper is an influential pro-life advocate in the crucial first in the South presidential primary state, and was careful to tell Fox News the dinner did not amount to an endorsement. "I'm having dinner with a friend, discussing the rights of the unborn."

South Carolina political insiders say social issues are only part of the picture, "To win in South Carolina you need to find a balance of social conservatism and fiscal conservatism," said Winthrop University Political Science Professor Scott Huffon. "If you're a one note Republican you're just not going to do well here, and that's why South Carolina is good at picking the eventual nominee."

Santorum assures Fox News he has been a fiscal conservative all along, "I mean now it's easy to say I'm for entitlement reform, it's easy to say we have to cut the growth of government spending. It was hard when those things weren't as popular as they are today when the situation was not as urgent as it is today."

The one thing known for sure is that South Carolina is a big prize. Since the inception of the state's presidential primary in 1980 every eventual Republican nominee has one won the state.

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.