Santorum To Romney: Make Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage Part Of The Campaign

Rick Santorum is urging Mitt Romney to go all-in on opposition to same-sex marriage. Not surprisingly, this is bad advice.

Rick Santorum is telling Mitt Romney that he should make opposition to the President’s position on same-sex marriage a centerpiece of his campaign:

Washington (CNN) – Rick Santorum is urging Mitt Romney to “step up” and weaponize the issue of same-sex marriage.

“This is a very potent weapon, if you will, for Governor Romney if he’s willing to step up and take advantage of a president who is very much out of touch with the values of America,” Santorum said in an eye-opening live interview with Arkansas TV station KARK, a CNN affiliate.

The former presidential candidate made the remarks before appearing at the Benton County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner in the northwest corner of the state Friday night. Santorum’s comments also came the night before Romney’s speech before the Christian conservative Liberty University in Virginia on Saturday.

Romney’s one time rival noted the recent results of a ballot issue in North Carolina where voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

“Hopefully Governor Romney will continue to stand tall for his position on this issue and understand how detrimental it would be for society for it to have this changed,” Santorum also told the Arkansas station.

“Governor Romney has to talk about his values,” he added. “That’s the most important thing.”

Indeed, in his Commencement Address at Liberty University today, Romney did indeed address the marriage issue:

Mitt Romney is telling students at a Christian university that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Romney on Saturday told the Liberty University commencement that marriage is an “enduring” institution that’s reserved for one man and one woman. He also says that culture “what you believe, how you live, what you value it matters.”

The crowd cheered his comments, made days after Democratic President Barack Obama embraced same-sex marriage.

I’ve argued here  and here that the political impact of President Obama’s announcement would be fairly minimal both because it would be likely to attract the attention of supporters and opponents pretty much equally and because the people who feel strongly about this issue on either side of it were already inclined to support or oppose President Obama anyway. Additionally, we’ve got plenty of polling evidence to establish that, for the population as a whole, same-sex marriage is far, far down the list of issues that voters care about this year. The likelihood that it would have the kind of major impact on the election that Santorum suggests seems to be pretty low. Of course, nobody ever said that Rick Santorum was a top-notch political analyst. Rather, he seems to be playing the role of an ideologue who is advancing his interests, rather than the best interests of the Romney campaign.

It’s still very early after the President’s announcement so it’s hard to say exactly how this will play with the public, but a new poll from Gallup and USA Today suggests that the impact will be fairly minimal after all:

More than half of Americans say they approve of President Obama’s stance that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally, but 60% say that his shift in position will have no bearing on how they vote in the November election, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll.

Overall, 51% approve of Obama’s new position on same-sex marriage, compared with 45% who disapprove. Nearly 13% say his shift in position will make them more likely to vote for him, while 26% say it will make them less likely, suggesting that more supporters of likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney feel more strongly about this issue than do base supporters of Obama.

Some political analysts, such as Aaron Blake and David Weigel are making note of that highlighted portion of the poll results, and specifically this breakdown of that question:

At first glance, one could argue that Obama has a potential problem here. Independents, who will be a crucial factor in the election, say by more than 2-to-1 that they’re less likely to vote for Obama after his announced support for same-sex marriage. It’s worth noting, of course, that the vast majority of Independents, like the vast majority of “adults” polled, said it would make no difference. It’s also worth noting that this was a poll of “adults,” and not either registered or likely voters so it’s not at all clear what this poll even tells us about the election itself. In that regard, it would be far more helpful to at least see this question limited to Registered Voters. The other thing a poll like this can’t really tell us is how intensely people feel about a given issue. How likely are those 23% of independents to be so adamant on the issue of same-sex marraige that they’d let it determine their vote for President to the exclusion of everything else? My guess is that it’s not very likely at all. Even taking this poll on its face, though, it’s worth noting that the next question seems to contradict the answers given in the first:

By a margin of 53-44, Independents are fine with the President’s position on same-sex marriage. This suggests that he’s not in nearly as much danger on this issue as some of the analysts who’ve looked at this poll have suggested. It also suggests that the advice that Rick Santorum is giving Mitt Romney is, not surprisingly, mistaken.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Gender Issues, Politicians, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Eric says:

    And then why focus on the economy when you can focus on gay marriage? Surely that’s the most pressing issue in today’s time.

    That is why Santorum’s campaign was a failure in states he could have won. He relied too heavily on the social conservatives and Christians and lost.

  2. Hey Norm says:

    I linked to this on another thread…a respected Republican Pollster who disagrees with Santorum.
    http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/05/bush-pollster-change-in-attitudes-on-gay-marriage-123235.html
    Who would you listen to?
    Based on the ineptness of Romney’s campaign to date…he’ll probably listen to Santorum. After today’s speech I don’t see how he has a choice. No one’s Etch-a-Sketch is that powerful.
    I’m amused by this line:

    “…what you believe, how you live, what you value it matters…”

    What do you believe, Mitt?

  3. michael reynolds says:

    There’s a problem generally with “more likely, less likely” questions. Those who already supported Obama assumed he was pro gay marriage, so of course this announcement doesn’t change their support. Those who already opposed him can use the “less likely” question to define the basis of their disapproval without actually changing the overall number.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    As a Democrat, all I can say is, thank god Santorum is giving advice to the Romney Campaign.

    Republicans are amazing. First they complain that Obama went public in his support of Gay Marriage in order to distract us from “real issues.” Then they complain that they are distracted by these non “real issues”, now a major republican – Rick Santorum – says that they should go all in on the non “real issues”.

    I suspect that Mitt is comfortable with this ambiguity.

  5. Hey Norm says:

    Rand Paul, son of the publisher of an occasionally severely racist newsletter, on Obama’s Same-Sex Marriage stance:

    “…Call me cynical, but I didn’t think his views on marriage could get any gayer…”

    They don’t fall far from the tree, do they?

  6. Racehorse says:

    “It’s about jobs, stupid!”

  7. al-Ameda says:

    @Racehorse:
    Yes but, Republicans insist on talking about social issues.

  8. Ron Beasley says:

    Romney will have to continue to talk about it bcause the 27% who long for life in the 15th century require constant reinforcement.

  9. superdestroyer says:

    @Hey Norm:

    I would not trust any Republican pollsters. They were the same ones that told Bush II to pander to Hispanics and look how that worked out.

    Maybe the Republicans should say that they will support homosexual marriage when the Democrats support school vouchers, allow people to opt out of social security, and eliminating the mandate of the ACA.

    If Republicans are supposedly going to eventually support homosexual marriage, they should get something out of the deal.

  10. @Eric: Honestly? It’s things like this that make me discredit the economy as a talking point. For one, article after article here say things like “this is bad, it will hurt the President, but there’s little that he can do about it”. So I question that electing Mitt Romney will do anything for our economy unless the Republicans take a full majority in every other legislative branch (if that happens, look out poor people, the achievement gap is going to become a chasm). But for two, we elected a bunch of right-wingers in 2010 in a desperate attempt to fix the economy. They BROKE IT FURTHER (debt ceiling issue), while doing nothing except ramming through invasive laws hurting women and the GLBT community in areas where Democrats stood no chance. They lied to people. So yes, while the economy is the #1 thing that we need to focus on, I will not sell the rights of women and minorities to get that economy fixed. We find a way to do it right, or we don’t bother.

  11. Eric says:

    @Christopher Bowen:

    I understand your frustrations and those are mine as well regarding the tone of the Republican-controlled House. However, what I was pointing out to was that Santorum lost his bid for the nomination to Romney because he was focusing on social issues. All Rick wanted to talk about was how Gays are bad and Obama is a devil and what not. The voters responded by picking Romney because he was talking about the economy (granted, he did really the best he could to avoid the social issues).

    The Republicans are going to lose big in November if they continue on this social issues crusade. Like Mitch Daniels say, focus on the economy and forget about fighting for (conservative) social issues.

  12. michael reynolds says:

    It’s interesting in a way, isn’t it, that it’s now all-but impossible for Republicans to avoid focusing on social issues. Their base won’t let them.

  13. Hey Norm says:

    Superduperdestroyer thinks civil rights are bargaining chips. Give us something we want and we’ll let you have your civil rights. Very magnanimous of Mr. Destroyer.
    Personally I think everyone should be equal…not just those who people like Superdestroyer think should be equal.

  14. Ron Beasley says:

    @michael reynolds: Exactly as I said above they have to pander to a base that thinks about nothing but social issues. They won’t vote for Obama but they won’t pound on doors and just might stay home. That pandering will not help them with the majority that don’t think the 15th century was all that great.

  15. Ben Wolf says:

    @Eric:

    And then why focus on the economy when you can focus on gay marriage? Surely that’s the most pressing issue in today’s time.

    Remember when the Republicans promised their number one focus would be “jobs, jobs, jobs”? That lasted about five minutes past the 2010 elections.

  16. superdestroyer says:

    @Hey Norm:

    but is the Republicans are going to throw the social conservatives under the bus, they should get something for it.

    Why give more political power to one of the most liberal groups in the U.S. and get nothing out of it.

    And I suspect that in a couple of years, it will be mandatory to collect information on sexual orientation and that the grievance industry will start to punish universities, employers, and organizations that do not have the government approved number of homosexuals while ignoring organizing where homosexuals are massively over-represented.

  17. Ben Wolf says:

    @superdestroyer:

    And I suspect that in a couple of years, it will be mandatory to collect information on sexual orientation and that the grievance industry will start to punish universities, employers, and organizations that do not have the government approved number of homosexuals while ignoring organizing where homosexuals are massively over-represented.

    When this desn’t hapoen in two years will you admit you were wrong?

  18. Ben Wolf says:

    desn’t hapoen = doesn’t happen. Anyone else have problems with the buffer being too slow on their first generation iPads?

  19. Janis Gore says:

    @Ben Wolf: More telling is that he’s willing to trade school vouchers for SSM. He doesn’t care. Why should he? We’re talking about maybe 2% of the poulation. How many of the so-called so-cons really do?

  20. superdestroyer says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    The University of California is already beginning to collect data from students on sexual orientation. How fast do you think that the data will be used on punish departments, colleges, and universities that to not demonstrate a proper commitment to “sexual diversity.”

    How long until the EEOC requires data collection on sexual orientation?

  21. superdestroyer says:

    @Janis Gore:

    the issue is that is the conservatives are going to eventually lose on the issue of SSM, why not get something for stopping opposition now. Allow social conservatives to avoid homosexual education in public schools and allow social conservatives to opt out of social security when homosexuals start collecting, it could be a win.

    A better question is what are social libertarians willing to do to give the homosexuals more political power and a larger slice of the government goodies.

  22. Janis Gore says:

    Umm. Homosexuals collect social security now.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    superdestroyer:

    So, I’m curious. How do teh gays fit into your whole race war thing? I assume they’re with the blacks, hispanics, Jews and white people with IQs above room temperature? And when you think about being subjugated by all these gay-mongrel-smart people, is there a kinky sexual component to the fantasy? Please tell me there is, it’ll be so much more entertaining.

  24. JohnMcC says:

    Wait…. Rick Santorum is in rural northeast Arkansa talking at a local radio station and addressing a Lincoln day dinner?! Whoa! I guess he’s serious about keeping his name in front of the GOPers until 2016.

  25. superdestroyer says:

    @Janis Gore:

    One of the biggest pushes concerning SSM is to get access to social security benenfits for marriage. SSM will quickly become a huge scam for benefits that homosexuals cannot get from domes partner benefits.

  26. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    M.S. I have argued for a very long time that progressives have nothing to add to any discussion expect snark. Thank you for repeatedly confirming my position.

    Also, I have never used the term “race war” and have actually never said that the government should take a position on demographic change expect to acknowledge that it is occurring and should anticipate what the impacts should be.

  27. Ben Wolf says:

    @Michael Reynolds

    Assuming Supey D uses the same hierarchy of hate as the Klan, gays are by far the worst of the lot, followed by blacks and hispanics. I know this because Howard Stern has interviewed KKK leaders many times.

  28. Linton says:

    As an Arkansan, I’m terrified to know that the sweater vest invaders have now made it to my state. Hopefully he stays in the northwest corner of the state and doesn’t set foot in Fayetteville while he’s up there. He’s pushed Romney on the gay issue, now it’s only a matter of time before he tries to talk Mitt into donning the sweater vest.

  29. superdestroyer says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    When did noticing differences in demographic groups become the equivalent to being the klan. When did proposing that the government treat everyone the same is considered racist but separate and unequal is considered progressives.

    I find it odd that for homosexuals, the demand is to be treated the same as everyone else while for blacks and Hispanics the demand is for separate and unequal standard and opportunities.
    I wish the progressives would settle on one set of values.

  30. An Interested Party says:

    Romney should take Santorum’s advice, and watch as the President’s reelection team uses the GOP playbook against the Republican nominee…