Huckabee, Santorum urge GOP not to go soft on social issues like gay marriage

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The last two Republican winners of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses say that the GOP will shoot itself in the foot if it softens its stance on social issues such as same-sex marriage — countering calls from others within the GOP ranks who say that is one way for the party to broaden its national appeal.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses in the 2012 presidential race, told Politico that the Republican party will cease to exist if it softens its stance on social issues such as same-sex marriage.

“Look, the Republican Party isn’t going to change,” Mr. Santorum said. “If we do change, we’ll be the Whig Party.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, meanwhile, said that the GOP should learn a lesson from the 2008 and 2012 elections, where they lost after nominating Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“The last two presidential elections, we had more moderate candidates, so if anything a lot of conservatives went to the polls reluctantly or just didn’t go at all,” Mr. Huckabee told Politico. “If all of the Evangelicals had showed up, it may have made a difference.”

The Republican Party has been doing some soul-searching in the wake of the November election, where voters elected President Obama to a second term and Democrats picked up seats in the House and the Senate - overcoming the Republican attempts to blame Obama for the sluggish economy and high unemployment.

The Republican National Committee released a post-election report last month that said the GOP could broaden its appeal to young voters by making sure they “do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view.”

“Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the party is a place where they want to be,” the report said. “If our party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters with continue to tune us out.”

“We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them,” the report said.

And top Republican Strategist Ed Gillespie, former header of the Republican National Committee and ex-adviser to former President George W. Bush, said over the weekend on “Fox News Sunday” that the party could consider tweaking the 2012 platform, which endorsed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

“I think one of the questions is, I believe the platform right now calls for a federal constitutional amendment to ban it. You know, there may be a debate about that,” Mr. Gillespie said.

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