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Romney woos Christian conservatives, gets Santorum support

While at the Faith & Freedom Conference on Saturday, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says that Mitt Romney is standing firm on conservative values and is not leaning toward the political middle.

Republican Mitt Romney paused Saturday during a campaign bus stop in Pennsylvania to touch base with Christian conservatives.

Romney, the presumptive nominee to face off against President Barack Obama in November, spoke by satellite from Cornwall to the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C.


The candidate changed from "campaign casual" khakis into a dark suit and was shown on video in front of his tour bus as he gave remarks on what he termed societal "anchors," including family and the Constitution.

The non-profit social conservative coalition, founded by longtime conservative activist Ralph Reed, opposes abortion and same-sex marriage and supports lower taxation and limited government.

Romney's comments veered from his usual talking points on the economy into social issues. He said that young people "should get married before they have children because the opportunity for a mom and a dad to help guide the life of a child gives them such an enormous advantage.”

Obama’s health care plan “attacks freedoms” and “raising taxes attacks freedoms,” Romney said. The Obama administration’s decision on contraceptive coverage “attacks our first freedom — religious freedom,” he said.

He credited former rival Rick Santorum with touting three "best predictors" for happiness and good finances: be married, graduate from high school and get a job.

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Santorum later spoke in person before the same audience, saying that he appreciated Romney’s speech not because he was quoted but because it “hit all the points.”

Santorum, a return visitor to the Coalition conference, said he has “no doubt” Romney understands the “centrality of family.”

The former Pennsylvania senator urged the audience to help Romney win.

Santorum said he had feared Romney would track toward the middle.

“But I’m not seeing that,” Santorum said. “I’m seeing him stand by the convictions he had during the primaries.”

Also Saturday, Foster Friess, a billionaire investor from Jackson, Wyo., told the conference the nation needs “to restore Christian values.”

Friess said President Harry S. Truman said the there was a fundamental unity of Christianity and democracy in the country. Friess said that President Franklin D. Roosevelt said people “cannot take into account progress without credit to the Bible." President John F. Kennedy, he said, was thinking of others when he told people “to ask what you can do for the country.”

Reuters contributed to this report.