Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum says he'll never back down from his focus on social issues, including opposing abortion and fighting gay rights.

The former Pennsylvania senator says the GOP has to be about more than just cutting taxes and spending. He says those who want to ignore social issues don't understand the party and they don't understand Iowa.

Santorum told activists at a straw poll in Ames, Iowa, that "I will not back down" on pushing those hot-button issues.

Santorum says his candidacy has been written off by much of the media. But he says he's campaigned for the state's leadoff caucuses more than any of his GOP rivals and will continue to do that.