DES MOINES, Iowa (BP) -- Surging Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum won a plurality of support from evangelicals in the Iowa GOP caucuses Tuesday, as social conservatives in the state and nationwide try to decide not just who can win in November but who best shares their beliefs.
Mitt Romney edged Santorum in the Iowa caucuses by a mere eight votes -- the closest GOP presidential contest ever -- and remains a frontrunner for the nomination heading into the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary, where he is favored. Yet concern by some voters over Romney's conservative credentials has allowed a series of dark-horse candidates to rise to the top, with Santorum being the latest. The virtual tie (each received 25 percent) was a big boost to Santorum, who trailed by double digits in most Iowa polls just two weeks earlier and who had far less money than Romney.
Santorum captured 58 percent of those who said abortion was their most important issue, according to entrance polls.
Santorum won 37 percent of the vote of those who consider themselves born-again or evangelical, besting Ron Paul (18 percent) and three candidates (Romney, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich) who each received 14 percent of the evangelical vote, according to entrance polls. Evangelicals made up 57 percent of caucus goers.
"God has given us this great country to allow His people to be free and has given us that dignity because we are a creation of His, and we need to honor that creation," Santorum told a cheering crowd. "And whether it's the sanctity of life in the womb or the dignity of every working person in America to fulfill their potential, you will have a friend in Rick Santorum."
A former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Santorum long has been a champion of pro-life and pro-family causes and was a leading supporter of a proposed federal constitutional amendment in 2004 that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman. He also helped lead the charge to pass a ban on partial-birth abortion, once getting into a now-famous floor exchange about the beginning of life with pro-choice Sen. Barbara Boxer. Read More