Santorum tells conservatives to stand by principles
Feb 10, 2012, 16:43 GMT
Washington - Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum told thousands of US conservatives gathered for an annual conference in Washington on Friday to stand by their principles and not simply settle for a candidate they think is electable.
'We've learned our lesson and we will no longer compromise on the principles that made this country great for a hollow victory in November,' Santorum told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Three of the remaining Republican presidential candidates hoping to challenge President Barack Obama in November elections were to address the crowd Friday in hopes of winning over key party activists.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is seen as the frontrunner for the party's nomination, but has failed to garner much enthusiasm among conservatives who point to his changing policy positions and moderate record in a liberal state.
Still, many have argued that he is the party's best hope of unseating Obama thanks to his widespread appeal to moderates and swing voters and his extensive business management experience.
Santorum and former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich are vying to be the conservative challenger to Romney in the hope of rallying a key segment of the party.
Santorum gained a key boost from three surprise victories in contests Tuesday, leaving the Romney campaign to point out that every general election candidate loses some races on the path to the nomination.
'There's a lot of excitement here because this election is about very big things,' Santorum told an enthusiastic crowd, arguing that the campaign against Obama is about 'more than just about the economy, it's about foundational principles' such as freedom from government intervention in citizens' daily lives.
He has garnered most attention for his stances on social issues, such as strong opposition to abortion and gay marriage, prompting attempts to scuttle him by gay activists and others.
But Santorum has also sought to capitalize on populist economic rhetoric by stressing his roots as the grandson of a coal miner and Italian immigrant.
Romney, who has spent much of the primary season stressing his conservative bona fides, and Gingrich are both to address the convention later Friday.