Rick Santorum shocked the country last night when he swept three primary races, officially launching his comeback in the Republican presidential primary race. The former Pennsylvania governor won Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, putting a dent in frontrunner Mitt Romney‘s lead. Romney is still considered the frontrunner but last night’s losses inevitably puts a damper on things, and casts even more doubt about his ability to really excite the party.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t stand here to claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama,” Santorum said in a victory speech.
“Conservatism is alive & well in Missouri & Minnesota! Thank you to those who voted & worked hard to make tonight happen!,” Santorum Tweeted, later also thanking Colorado for voting for him.
Meanwhile, Santorum, Romney, and Newt Gingrich are chiming in on the issue of emergency contraception as a way to hammer away at each other to prove who is more conservative. Ron Paul thinks emergency contraception is OK in the case of “honest rape.” The Obama administration recently issued a regulation requiring church-affiliated employers to cover birth control for their workers in their health insurance plans, but some Catholics say that violates Catholic organizations’ religious convictions.
In an effort to get back on his feet, Gingrich said Romney, while governor of Massachusetts, allowed Catholic hospitals to give out abortion pills against their religious beliefs; Santorum also tossed that accusation Romney’s way. In 2005, Romney actually vetoed a bill requiring all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic ones, to provide rape victims with emergency contraception, but the Legislature overruled the veto. Romney said rape victims deserved emergency contraception or information on where to obtain it.
Romney campaign advisor Eric Fehrnstrom said Wednesday that Romney’s record shows he was as conservative he could be in that state; he vetoed the emergency contraception bill, as well as an embryonic cloning bill. “He did this in one of the toughest places to be a a conservative – in one of the bluest state in the country,” Fehrnstrom said.
Meanwhile, the issue of gay marriage is also playing into the Republican primary. In a win for gay-marriage advocates, a federal appeals court declared California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage – called Proposition 8 – unconstitutional Tuesday. The 2-1 ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco means the issue now goes to the Supreme Court.
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples,” said Judge Stephen Reinhardt in the majority opinion.
The Republican candidates promised to act in a way that would protect the union between one man and one woman.
“7 M Californians had their rights stripped away today by activist 9th Circuit judges. As president I will work to protect marriage,” Santorum wrote on Twitter.
“Court of Appeals overturning CA’s Prop 8 another example of an out of control judiciary. Let’s end judicial supremacy,” Gingrich Tweeted.
“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices,” Romney said in a statement.
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