The Holier-Than-Thou wing of the Republican Party — the conservative Christian evangelicals — has settled on a candidate to support for the GOP presidential nomination. The keyword is settled.
The evangelicals gathered in Texas over the weekend and endorsed former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, even though former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could well wrap up the nomination after the Florida primary at the end of the month. Romney is expected to win the South Carolina primary on Saturday.
Why did the holy rollers endorse Santorum — albeit with little enthusiasm — over the frontrunner? The answer is they are suspicious of Romney. He has been a moderate on social issues and, most importantly, he’s a Mormon. There are many hard line Christians who believe that Mormonism is a cult.
As for Santorum, his positions on social issues reflect those of the evangelicals, but he also is a devout Roman Catholic, which, to many Bible-thumpers, puts him in the same category as Romney. However, the GOPers in Texas realized that the former Pennsylvania senator is a viable contender — for now — for the nomination and, therefore, they needed to give him their blessing.
Had Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s candidacy taken hold, he would have been the unquestioned choice of the evangelicals.
So, what happens to the social conservatives if Romney emerges as the nominee? The true believers will sit on their hands for the November presidential election, while the others will justify voting for him by arguing that getting President Barack Obama out of the White House is a moral imperative.