February 7, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
Santorum sweeps Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum showed his campaign still has life by sweeping Tuesday’s GOP contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado.

In Minnesota, Santorum captured 45 percent of the vote, with Rep. Ron Paul in second at 27 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a distant third with 17 percent. In Missouri, Santorum won 55 percent of the vote to Romney’s 25 percent. In the Colorado caucuses, Santorum beat Romney by five points.

In his victory speech in Missouri, Santorum declared, “Conservatism is alive and well in Missouri and Minnesota,” and took a dig at Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney.

“Your votes today were not just heard loud and wide across the state of Missouri and Minnesota, but they were heard loud and louder all across this country, and particularly in a place that I suspect may be in Massachusetts they were heard particularly loud tonight,” Santorum said.

He added that he is not the conservative alternative to Romney, but the “conservative alternative to Barack Obama.”

Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, said Santorum’s wins are evidence the “non-Romney wing” of the GOP is still the dominant force in the party and “yet more proof that Republicans can’t stand Mitt Romney.”

“Conservative Republicans may love Rick Santorum’s unwavering sanctimony and seething anti-intellectualism, but his narrow, regressive brand of politics will turn off independents and even many moderate Republicans,” Davis said.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, dismissed Santorum’s wins because he said the candidate can’t unify the Republican Party.

“As former RNC chairman Gov. Haley Barbour has observed, ‘purity is the enemy of victory,’” Cooper said “The ability to secure the vote of the general electorate is necessary to succeeding as the Republican nominee. The divisive Rick Santorum is not capable of winning a general election and will not be the Republican nominee.”

The wins for Santorum in Minnesota and Missouri are largely symbolic. Missouri isn’t awarding any delegates at the Republican National Convention. Minnesota and Colorado will award their delegates at a later date.

Still, Santorum’s victory is sure to be a thorn in the side of frontrunner Romney, who last week seemed poised to claim the Republican nomination after his victory in the Nevada caucuses. Observers say Tuesday’s results raise questions about whether Romney can close the deal and win the Republican nomination.

GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia, who endorsed Romney, declined to comment on the Santorum wins.

Stonewall’s Davis expressed amusement about the prospects of gay conservatives having to rally around Santorum as the Republican presidential candidate.

“He’ll never be the nominee, but it would definitely be fun to watch gay conservatives contort themselves to find a way to support a Santorum candidacy, wouldn’t it?”

Santorum incorporated anti-gay rhetoric in his Missouri campaign.

Last week, a gay man in Fulton, Missouri, asked Santorum why he thinks gays should face discrimination and not have either marriage or adoption rights.

“Who are you, or any individual to tell me that I don’t have the same rights as anybody else in this country and to put me in a group that I’m discriminated against in the workplace … and in other situations?” the man asked, drawing applause from the audience.

Santorum initially told the questioner he “shouldn’t be discriminated against” and is “entitled to equal treatment under the law.” But Santorum continued that the questioner isn’t entitled to “special treatment under the law,” eliciting even greater applause from those in attendance at the event.

Pressed further by the questioner, Santorum added he shouldn’t have access to marriage because the institution is a “privilege” that only should be offered to couples whose unions “benefit” society.

“Constructions of a relationship that is honored in society — marriage — that’s not a right,” Santorum said. “It’s something that has existed since the beginning of human history, men and women coming together, marrying, every society and civilization that has existed since the history of man, Christian and not, have recognized this institution as an institution where men and women come together for the purposes of forming a natural relationship as God made it to be.”

Santorum said marriage exists for the “purposes of having children and continuing that civilization.”

“Two people who may like each other or may love each other who are same-sex, is that a special relationship?” Santorum said. “Yes it is, but it is not the same relationship that benefits society like a marriage between a man and a woman.”

The results for the next contest will be announced Saturday, when Maine will finish its weeklong caucus. Observers have said Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who has yet to win a contest, may pull off a win in the state.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

1 Comment
  • This bigot couldn’t win if he were running for dog catcher. He doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to recognize he’s extremely bigoted. He’s just plain ignorant. But Romney is only a hair better. He’s of the same religion that sponsored Proposition 8 in California. Mormons cling to together no matter what appearance he might broadcast.

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