- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2012

ORANGE CITY, Iowa — As GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum spent Sunday stumping in northwestern Iowa, it was he — and not rival Mitt Romney — who had Mormon Secretary of State Matt Schultz at his side.

Instead of backing Mr. Romney, a fellow Mormon, Mr. Schultz chose to support Mr. Santorum early last month while the devoted Catholic was still lagging near the bottom of the pack. He pointed to “core values” the two share, offering the former Pennsylvania senator another endorsement based not on his religion, but his positions.

Mr. Santorum has been pocketing endorsements from non-Catholic social conservatives, despite spending most of the campaign season overshadowed in a Republican field that includes three evangelicals, two Mormons and one fellow Catholic.

He recently won highly sought-after endorsements from prominent Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Family Leader, and Chuck Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Centre.

And earlier in the month, he won a nod from Mr. Schultz, who became the only Iowa statewide elected official to endorse a candidate so far. Mr. Schultz traveled the campaign trail with Mr. Santorum on Sunday afternoon, greeting voters at the Daily Grind in Sioux City and at Northwestern Bank in Orange City.

As time grows short before the Tuesday caucuses, the candidates have been touting their endorsements — and courting influential Iowans for last-minute support.

Mr. Santorum also had conservative radio host Sam Clovis and megachurch pastor Cary Gordon in tow on Sunday, both of whom teared up as they introduced the former senator.

And last week, Mr. Santorum went hunting with Rep. Steve King, a tea party favorite whose endorsement has been highly coveted by the GOP candidates. While Mr. King remains mum on who he’ll support, Mr. Santorum still managed to link himself to the congressman when a voter asked him for his views on immigration.

“I’m a Steve King guy on immigration,” he answered, prompting enthusiastic clapping and cheering. “I guess I don’t have to say what that means — everybody applauded.”

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