-Convention Coverage
3:47 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Santorum brings up social issues; Ohio GOP leadership balks

Tuesday morning, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum - who battled Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination and lost - talked to the Ohio delegation about some issues that they hadn't heard much about since they arrived in Tampa

Abortion. Same sex marriage. The government's role in promoting contraceptives.

"We're fracturing the family in this country,'' the conservative Catholic from Pennsylvania told the Ohioans at their daily delegation breakfast. "As much as we like to talk about the economy and jobs, we are fracturing the base of our society, the family."

Those social issues, Santorum told the Ohioans, must be part of the message to undecided voters this fall, in Ohio and other key states.

Afterwards, Ohio Republican leaders - from Gov. John Kasich to House Speaker John Boehner to Ohio GOP chairman Bob Bennett - said they disagreed with Santorum.

"The social issues are important, but the overriding moral issue in this country is job creation,'' Kasich told Ohio reporters Tuesday morning.

Santorum was the guest of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who, late in the campaign before Ohio's March 6 primary, withdrew his early support for Romney and endorsed Santorum for president, campaigning with him around the state.

The Pennsylvanian did farely well, too - winning six of Ohio's 16 congressional districts in the March 6 primary. He might have done even better had his campaign not failed to file full slates of delegates in three congressional districts.

"Ohio feels a lot like Pennsylvania to me and it feels a lot more like home,'' Santorum said.

Santorum said he was pleased with the choice of Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as Romney's running mate.

"What that said to me as a conservative is that (Romney) wants to make this a contest of ideas,'' Santorum said.

One of those ideas is that religious institutions should not be forced to do things that are against their beliefs - such as the Obama administration requirement that Catholic institutions provide insurance that covers birth control.

"President Obama wants you to base your faith on what he believes your faith should be,'' Santorum said.

Later in the day, Ohio reporters met in Boehner's private skybox high above the convention floor with the speaker and Sen. Rob Portman. When told of Santorum's assertion that the Romney-Ryan ticket should make social issues a centerpiece of their campaign, Boehner was emphatic.

"That's Rick Santorum,'' Boehner said, with a wave of his hand. "He's my dear friend. But this election is about the economy. Who can manage it and who can't."