Monday, Feb. 07, 2005

Rick Santorum

The Point Man On Capitol Hill
The Senate's third-ranking Republican may be a Catholic, but he's the darling of Protestant Evangelicals. Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference Committee, is the standard bearer of social conservatives on the Hill, regularly and vocally taking the point position against gay marriage, abortion rights and judges who defend either. He speaks monthly with evangelical leaders, hearing their concerns and briefing them on the status of legislation, while his staff regularly taps evangelical broadcasters and activists to help mobilize support for their common agenda. In the new congressional session, that includes pushing laws aimed at limiting access of minors to interstate abortions and giving legal rights to fertilized eggs in utero. Though highly controversial for his verbal attacks on gays and supporters of abortion rights — he once likened homosexual sex to bestiality — Santorum, 46, is said to have presidential ambitions. "Never say never," he says — music to evangelical ears.