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Published on Jan 17, 2012
The attempt to unify the Christian right behind a single presidential candidate is already coming undone.
On Friday and Saturday, about 150 religious conservatives gathered in Texas to see if they could coalesce behind an alternative to Mitt Romney. When the meeting ended, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, announced that they had succeeded, with a supermajority of those present backing Rick Santorum. "From the outset, the stated goal of the meeting was to attempt to arrive at a consensus or a clear majority of support for a single conservative candidate," he wrote in a press release. "That goal was achieved."
Some attendees, though, say the process was rigged in Santorum's favor. "I'm trying to correct the record," former congressman J. C. Watts, a Newt Gingrich supporter, told me. "There wasn't a consensus." There were three ballots during the event. On the first one, Santorum received 57 votes, while Gingrich got 48, Rick Perry got 13, Mitt Romney got 3, and Ron Paul got 1. All the candidates except the top two were eliminated for the second ballot, which resulted in 49 votes for Gingrich and 70 for Santorum.