Rick Santorum Grabs Spotlight in Iowa

Social Conservative Also Known for Strong Support of Israel

‘It’s Game On’: Once a longshot, Rick Santorum is celebrating his narrow loss in Iowa and pushing on to the New Hampshire primary next week.
getty images
‘It’s Game On’: Once a longshot, Rick Santorum is celebrating his narrow loss in Iowa and pushing on to the New Hampshire primary next week.

By Nathan Guttman

Published January 03, 2012, issue of January 13, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Rick Santorum, who shocked the political world by coming within a whisker of winning the Iowa Republican caucuses, has long touted his pro-Israel and anti-Iran policies on the campaign trail. But Santorum still faces a tough road ahead as he fights to prove he belongs on the national stage.

His ultraconservative ideology, which includes an anti-gay agenda, opposition to abortion rights and questioning of the theory of evolution, has long been a barrier distancing him from the Jewish electorate.

Santorum’s supporters are touting the former American senator’s outreach to Jewish organizations in fighting for religious freedom and combating anti-Semitism despite their differences on family and domestic issues.

“He takes his religion very seriously,” said Barbara Ledeen, a former Senate staffer who worked closely with Santorum. referring to his Catholic beliefs. “He always told me he believes that Catholics and Jews are the canaries in the coal mine, warning against religious prejudice.”

Jewish Democrats wasted little time slamming the newly minted top-tier GOP candidate, calling him out of step with American Jews.

“Behind Door No. 2 is [Santorum], the most anti-choice, socially conservative candidate in the field,” said David Harris, president and CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, adding that Santorum would “ban homosexual activity.”

After battling front-runner Mitt Romney to a virtual dead heat in Iowa, Santorum faces a struggle to build national credibility as the campaign moves on to New Hampshire and beyond, analysts say.

“In the next week or two, he will be getting a closer look and will perhaps be subject to negative ads,” said Tim Hagle, an associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa. “The question for many voters will be: Is Santorum electable, or is he too conservative to win over independents and challenge [President Obama]?”

Santorum won 25% of the vote in Iowa and lost to Romney by just eight votes. All but declaring victory, Santorum vowed to fight across the country as a conservative alternative to Romney. The next battle is in New Hampshire on January 10, followed by South Carolina on January 21.

Santorum’s position on the right wing of the field could be bolstered if Texas Governor Rick Perry drops out of the race. After his poor showing in Iowa, Perry returned home to “reassess” his campaign. Michelle Bachmann threw in the towel after getting just 5% in Iowa.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.