Campaigning in Ohio, Rick Santorum has kept his focus firmly on family values as opponent Mitt Romney concentrates on the economy. Santorum's biggest concern: families without one father and one mother. (He didn't actually adress gay families in his speech, but you can probably guess how he feels about that.)
The former Republican senator is calling for fewer children born out of wedlock and fewer single-parent families. He says that communities across Ohio and elsewhere where mothers raise children have less freedom than communities where two-parent families are the norm.
By "less freedom," Santorum means more government: it's a sentiment that most Republicans could get behind, but his suggestion that there's a direct connection between more government and the breakdown of the family is contentious. Even Santorum supporters have begun to worry that he needs to shift focus.
"He needs to start talking more about the economy and get off the social issues, because I don't think that's what's going to make him president. The economy is going to make him president," said Joan Conradi, a 50-year-old nurse from nearby Mount Healthy, who was holding a "Santorum for President" sign.
While Santorum has touched on the economy in his Ohio speeches, he repeatedly returns to social issues and morality. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who campaigned with Santorum Saturday, doesn't see any problem with this focus. As he puts it, "We've got to elect a candidate who understands the connection between our economy and our family."
Santorum may be pleasing his friends in the religious right, but he's not convincing many voters — including those who would like to support him. They wonder, as many political pundits have put forward, whether a candidate as socially conservative and faith-based as Santorum can beat Obama in the national election. Of course, that's if he gets the Republican nomination.
[Image via AP]