US Republican candidates 390.
(photo credit: Reuters)
BOSTON – This year’s Republican primary was the worst campaign in a generation
when it came to mixing religion and politics, according to Anti-Defamation
League National Director Abraman Foxman.
Foxman spoke to The Jerusalem
Post the day after GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum dropped out of the
race for the Republican nomination, clearing the way for Mitt Romney to claim
victory. His other competitors, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, trail so
substantially in delegates and states won that they are not considered serious
contenders for the nomination.
“There’s a level of the role of religion,
the hawking of religion we have not seen,” Foxman said Wednesday. “It’s the
worst that we’ve ever witnessed in the last 20 years.”
Santorum as the candidate who “pushed the envelope the furthest” on religion
during the campaign, and said that he expected the rhetoric and attention to
religious tropes to diminish now that Santorum is out of the race.
added, “I don’t think it’s over. It’s going to take on a different role,
but it’s not over.”
Santorum himself promised Tuesday to press on with
his vision even as he announced he was ending his campaign.
presidential race is over for me and we will suspend our campaign effective
today, we are not done fighting,” he said from the historic Civil War town of
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. “This game is a long, long, long way from
over. We’re going to continue to go out there and fight to make sure that
we defeat President Barack Obama.”
Santorum spoke to Romney on Tuesday
but did not endorse him. Romney will be seeking his backing to help him shore up
support from evangelicals and other conservative constituencies who have
“Senator Santorum is an able and worthy competitor,
and I congratulate him on the campaign he ran. He has proven himself to be an
important voice in our party and in the nation,” Romney, the former governor of
Massachusetts, said in a statement released Tuesday.
Later, Romney told
an audience at a Delaware campaign stop that he also saw Santorum remaining an
important player in the political arena.
“He will continue to have a
major role in the Republican party, and I look forward to his work in helping
ensure victories for Republicans across the country in November,” Romney
Santorum made his decision after spending the Easter holiday with
His young daughter, Bella, was hospitalized over the weekend
due to her rare genetic disorder, a condition he noted while delivering his
Santorum’s exit from the campaign also comes two weeks
before a crucial Pennsylvania primary vote. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania
senator who lost his last reelection bid, had been counting on a win in his home
state, but had been losing ground in polls there. A loss in the crucial swing
state would have not only undercut his prospects in this year’s race, but could
also hurt him should he decide to run again in 2016.
several of the candidates – not just Santorum – as crossing the line from
talking about the role of faith in shaping their lives and values to actively
seeking votes on the basis of their Christian beliefs.
Romney, though, is
“moderate” on the issue of religion, according to Foxman. “He hasn’t used
it or abused it.”
That could be in part because of the challenge that
Romney himself faces as a Mormon, a faith that some Americans disparage. If he
wins the Republican race, he would be the first Mormon candidate for president
from either of the two major parties.
Foxman said that Obama, too, would
need to be careful of the line between church and state, saying that he was
disappointed by the president’s endorsement of funding for faith-based groups
early in his term.
Foxman pointed out that ultimately those candidates
who pushed faith the most during the GOP campaign weren’t
But, he said, “We are a religious country, so politicians
know and understand that there’s this feeling out there for them to play to.”