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Christian Leaders: Show Santorum the Money

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

For many pro-family and pro-life leaders it’s now or never.

Many of them recently met in Texas to discuss whether or not to unite behind a Republican presidential candidate, and avoid the fiasco that led to John McCain’s nomination four years ago. A majority of those leaders left Texas deciding to back former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum for president. Since that decision, there’s been no evidence this mass “endorsement” provided any boost to Santorum. He finished a distant third in both South Carolina and Florida immediately afterwards—even among his fellow social conservatives.

That’s because this “endorsement” was little more than an “atta boy” that isn’t worth much more than a warm fuzzy, unless it includes access to the resources (see that as money) that many of these pro-family and pro-life groups “endorsing” Santorum have access to. For example, how much money would Santorum have if Dr. James Dobson sent everyone on his list one email urging them to send the Santorum campaign a one- time contribution of just $5?

Answer: he’d have more resources than any Republican candidate not named Romney or Bush has had in decades.

Instead, mostly on his own elbow grease, Santorum rebounded to win three states – Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado – that media anointed Republicrat frontrunner Mitt Romney was expected to win. Santorum has suddenly gone from an afterthought in the Republican presidential primary, to a legitimate threat to finally coalesce conservatives as the “not Mitt Romney candidate.”

Beyond winning all three states, which was impressive enough, it was the margins of victory for Santorum that has conservatives nationwide buzzing. For example, four years ago Romney won the Minnesota primary by almost 20 points. Four years later, Santorum beat Romney by almost 30 points.

In addition, Romney continues to underperform among conservatives compared to his failed 2008 presidential bid. Romney got 60% of the vote in Colorado four years ago. This year he got just 35%. Romney lost ground among conservative voters in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida compared to 2008. Even in a state he dominated like Nevada, Romney didn’t do as well there as he did four years ago.

So much for the inevitable coronation of a RINO conservatives clearly don’t want, and is just a much better-funded version of McCain ’08.

But the environment this year is much different than ’08, with conservatives playing offense as opposed to struggling with a general electorate afflicted with Bush fatigue. Conservatives are much more resolved to fight Romney and the party establishment than they were McCain, which Tuesday night’s results reinforce. McCain was able to win in ’08 with a fractured conservative base, but Tuesday night proved again that even a fractured conservative base in 2012 can deny Romney the 1144 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination prior to the convention—provided conservatives maintain their resolve.

Enter the aforementioned pro-family/pro-life leaders.

One thing that fuels resolve is fuel—otherwise known as resources. These leaders have it, and with no contested primaries or caucuses until Arizona and Michigan on February 28th, these leaders have several weeks to fuel Santorum’s new found momentum. Provided, of course, they have as much resolve to fight Romney and the RINOs as those they raise their resources from clearly do.

Actions speak louder than words. Endorsements nowadays mean squat if there’s no tangible follow through that can make them stick. Otherwise, endorsements become little more than a nice little press release lost in the shuffle of the next news cycle.

Just like all those “endorsements” Santorum got in Texas you’ve already forgotten about.

Look at what Santorum was able to do on Tuesday without the ample resources of pro-family/pro-life leaders like Dobson or Tony Perkins of Family Research Council who endorsed him in press release only. Imagine what he could accomplish with their resources?

Furthermore, these leaders might actually need Santorum right now as much as he needs them. They’re lacking the confidence of their own base, as well as clout with the ruling class who would love nothing more than to jettison them from their seat at the table. Therefore, helping their chosen champion isn’t just the right thing to do, but at this point it’s the politically smart thing to do. In the short term, Santorum likely cannot win the nomination without their help, and these leaders’ long-term viability will be mortally wounded if they still can’t/won’t help Santorum now that he has some real momentum. Both sides desperately need each other.

I have never worked harder to help someone get elected than I did Huckabee four years ago. One of the central themes of my new book We Won’t Get Fooled Again: Where the Christian Right Went Wrong and How to Make America Right Again is how Christian Conservative leaders have been unwilling or unable to help Christian Conservative candidates like Huckabee (and now Santorum). Santorum now has a better chance to win the nomination than Huckabee ever had four years ago. That is especially true if some pro-life/pro-family leaders who have the money show Santorum the money (and I’m writing this as someone who has endorsed Newt Gingrich for president but would be fine with Santorum as the nominee).

Some respected and high-profile leaders who have spent the bulk of their adult lives fighting for moral righteousness have a window of opportunity over the next few weeks to get someone who has fought for their ideals throughout his career the nomination, and thus a legitimate shot at the presidency.

If they don’t take full advantage of that opportunity, these leaders may never get another shot to lead.

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