Perry and Santorum Make Appeal to Social Conservatives

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) -- Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, two of the Republican field’s social conservative heavyweights, made their pitches Sunday morning to a crowd of evangelical voters.

When Perry entered the race in early August, he was viewed by many to be the ideal choice for evangelical voters, but mishaps in debates and questions about electability knocked him off his perch atop the Republican field. That cleared the way for an alternative social conservative candidate like Santorum, and Saturday a group of conservative and religious leaders announced they had decided to coalesce around him as their favorite.

“People ask me how are we going to unite us together, remind every American who we are? This president reminds us of what divides us, not what unites us. You here in South Carolina have the choice to select someone who can unite us,” Santorum told the crowd gathered in a convention center ballroom.

“I was very blessed yesterday that a group of conservative leaders, about 150 or so got together and in many ways miraculously were able to come together,” he said. “I don’t know if that ever happens with a group of Christian leaders. They were able to miraculously come together and stand in support of my candidacy.

“We have an opportunity for South Carolina to stand behind a candidate that has consistently, courageously, forcefully, publicly, and led the fight for the values of the people who are going to vote next Saturday,” he said. “The question is whether the people of South Carolina will vote their conscience.”

Perry, who also spoke to the convention center gathering, said in an interview with Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he would not let the lost endorsement sidetrack his campaign.

“Well, obviously you’d like to get every endorsement of the groups that are in line with your beliefs. But you’re not going to do that. So our focus is on the people of South Carolina,” Perry said in the interview.

Perry and Santorum, who sat at the same table before their speeches, each appealed to the social conservative crowd to allow their values to guide their decision in the primary, a quiet contrast to the candidate who is leading in South Carolina polls — Mitt Romney.

Santorum repeatedly said the crowd should vote for the candidate, referring to himself, who speaks “our language,” sending a clear message that he believes he is the candidate who understands the social conservative movement and is aligned with them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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