Matt C. Abbott
GOP presidential primary: Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, Bachmann, Romney are favorites of (orthodox) Catholics
By Matt C. Abbott
December 31, 2011

I asked several practicing, orthodox Catholics — whom I know to be knowledgeable of Church teaching and the political process — to comment on their favorite GOP presidential primary candidates. Needless to say, I received some interesting and divergent responses, which can be seen below. (Incidentally, I'm not endorsing a candidate, but I can tell you with certainty that I won't be voting for President Obama in the general election. My RenewAmerica colleague, Tom O'Toole, has endorsed Rick Santorum, as has Deacon Keith Fournier of Catholic Online.)

William Grossklas:
    'Mostly we'd be looking at the two-headed political monster, the Republicrat Party. There is only one candidate who knows what the heck he's talking about and has a real plan to cure the problem — Dr. Ron Paul. Anyone else is just an endorsement of the same old theft, corruption and crony capitalism which got us into the mess we're in. This may be the last chance for another five to ten generations to free ourselves from the criminals who run the country.'
Nick Costello:
    'I'm voting for Rick Santorum. He is the strongest of the candidates on the respect life issues and marriage. Plus, he has far more personal integrity than Newt Gingrich, who is on his third marriage. He's smart and would do just as well in debating Obama as would Gingrich or Romney. Bachmann and Perry don't match Santorum's debating skills. I think he understands the fiscal crisis we're in and I think he would end the madness of monetizing the national debt and take practical steps to start reducing unemployment.

    'While I realize Iran could be a threat with a nuclear weapon, I hope Santorum wouldn't be too quick to consider military options. He is stridently in favor of sanctions against Iran and would be willing to allow Israel to make a preemptive strike. It's not that I'm against that, but I hope we can avoid a war with Iran. I would definitely be against an invasion.'
George Kocan:
    'My wife, Kristin, supports Gingrich; I support Ron Paul (for the time being).'
Judie Brown:
    'My endorsement is for a restoration of genuine confidence in God and His power versus the partisan rhetoric and gobbledygook that is undermining the drive toward legal and cultural recognition of the intrinsic human rights (IHR) of every person from creation to death.'
Jim Finnegan:
    'My choice is Gingrich. If I could pick the person I would like to be our president, it would be Santorum. I cannot see how he could survive the primary. I can hope he would be a vice president on the Republican ticket. After Romney's action in Massachusetts regarding homosexual marriage, I could never support him in the primary. My feelings are that he is trying to present himself as solid on the social issues, but in reality is a faux 'conservative' leader on what the two top reasons for my vote will be: life and marriage. That said, if he wins the primary, obviously I would support him over Obama.'
Arlene Sawicki:
    'My endorsement goes full-heartedly to Michele Bachmann, whom I believe is a true and consistent conservative Republican and the best candidate to restore our nation to prosperity and rebuild a government spiraling out of control. Bachmann is the only candidate who has been fighting on the front lines since the day Obama took office — unlike her 'establishment-backed' opponents who have consistently flip-flopped on critical issues to please an elitist media and their RINO followers.

    'I share her concerns as she set her top priorities as bringing a new voice of constitutional conservatism to the White House, limiting government, achieving deep spending cuts, assuring a safe and secure America, protecting the unborn and strengthening the family. She has received the unofficial endorsement of many Tea Party members and won the full endorsement of the conservative Citizen's Movement, which noted: 'As the voice of the 'We the People,' Rep. Bachmann has proven that she is the only candidate who has the values, the courage and the goal of getting the voices of the people back into Washington, D.C. We are honored to show our support for her candidacy.' So am I.'
Michele Amoroso:
    'Having seen three debates and read online about the candidates, I am endorsing Newt Gingrich for the Republican presidential nomination. I'm also praying for the next President of the United States. Yes, Newt Gingrich has made some mistakes, but he acknowledges and accepts his own mistakes and seeks to fix them. Newt is principally in line with the teaching of the Catholic Church on life issues and it is obvious that all other positions principally flow from this one, which is also why it must trump all others. Solid in principles — this is most important aspect in any candidate, especially for those running for president of the free world.

    'The president has a responsibility to uphold the moral compass that advocates and sustains freedom at home and abroad, especially freedom of conscience and speech. Any candidate that switches his or her position depending on the way the wind is blowing the flag poll cannot have a well-developed conscience that adheres to principles. One ought not to trade his or her principles, as they are one of the most valuable things a person can have and hold. A leader of this magnitude must have well-developed principles, as well as many other demonstrated skills to lead, advocate and defend freedom and democracy, something the current president either sorely lacks or intentionally does not exercise.'
Pat Menconi:
    'We have a number of good candidates to choose from in this primary. That said, I would choose Rick Santorum because he fears God more than public opinion in his thoughts, speech and actions; he consistently has held a conservative stance on moral issues, especially life and marriage; he has a successful family life; he has successfully served in the U.S. Senate; he is able to communicate the issues very clearly; he is young, positive, smart, likable and full of energy; he has the best chance of beating Obama in the debates and the election. Although many of the candidates have these qualities, thank the Lord, I think he performs them better than the rest.'
Gary Morella:
    'At this time, Santorum appears to be the best still standing who is closest to Catholic principles necessary for the survival of the Republic. And I've had my problems with the man previously, given his unconscionable support for Benedict Arlen Specter at the behest of the Bush clan, no doubt, in the primary election where Specter, due to that support, won by the slimmest of margins over Toomey.

    'The incredible damage that Specter was allowed to do as a result is hard for me to forget since that was a case of pure and simple political expediency being the priority over the good of the country, which speaks volumes for the GOP establishment RINO crowd who, when you get right down to it, are indistinguishable from the Obamunists in that they covet power at all costs with the common good leading to a supernatural good in a Kingdom not of this world never registering on their radar.

    'Maybe Santorum has learned from this heinous betrayal of conservative principles with the moral order being the highest priority for an electorate that must be made to understand that America is not going to survive without God's Blessing. To date, all that I see, as a Catholic activist father and grandfather treading water in a sea of heterodoxy due to a similar betrayal by those masquerading as Catholic at the highest levels of the Church, is an America deserving big time of God's continuing condemnation which is what we got in spades with Obama who is a chastisement from the Almighty for our sins that mock the Natural Law of God on a daily basis.

    'The bottom line is this. Unless we have a God-fearing president who understands the aforementioned priorities in the raging culture war for our souls, a spiritual war manifesting itself in the natural plane, we can kiss the United States of America goodbye because it won't deserve to survive!'
Jim Baltrinic:
    'At this point, my favorite candidate would be Newt Gingrich, for two reasons. First, I feel he has the best understanding of the foreign policy issues facing our country, especially in regards to Iran, and I feel he would do very well in national debates against Obama. Secondly, I am not concerned about his 'baggage issues' that the media like to keep dragging up. Individuals with great home lives do not necessarily make great leaders, Carter and Obama being the chief examples.

    'See this article comparing Gingrich and Churchill. I found it very interesting. My comments are also based on a foreign policy discussion I saw on TV several weeks ago. It featured Gingrich, Huntsman and a political science interviewer. Both Gringrich and Huntsman gave a very good discussion about our future foreign policy problems with regards to Iran and China. My main objections to Huntsman center around his support of gay-rights causes.'
Carlos Caso-Rosendi:
    'I am a bit disappointed with the choices. I like Perry more than the others in the sense that I like liver and onions more than tripe and boiled eels. Lately I am just leaving things in God's hands. I don't like the GOP anymore and less so the Tea Party. Sorry, the racism is rampant and that turns me off big time. I hope both parties lose. Forgive my depressing commentary but that is how I feel.'
Peter Crumley:
    'I believe Romney has the best chance to beat Obama. Real Clear Politics' website features the results of many different polls regarding various Republican candidates and how each would fare against Obama in the general election. Romney is the only one who would win based on the results compiled and presented on the site. Unfortunately, Romney only came out ahead in two of the ten polls. However, the spread by which he would lose per the other eight, given recent data, is considerably lower on average than the percentages by which Gingrich is forecast to lose. Therefore, it seems likely that Romney has the best opportunity to build towards victory. Furthermore, Gallup's efforts witness to the fact that Romney is considered to be far less polarizing than Gingrich. I don't believe Gingrich could turn things around in that regard with a sufficient number of Independents and disaffected Democrats to build a majority.

    'The preeminent issue for me is that of the right to life. I am not well honed on certain nuances of the candidates' positions concerning the subject, however, taking into account what seems possible, I think a Romney presidency affords as much of a realistic hope of limiting abortion as would be the case if Gingrich were to win. In other words, I don't think either man would issue an executive order to halt abortion-on-demand, nor do I believe either would be able to influence Congress to the extent that new legislation reversing the current state of affairs would be achieved. Also, as you undoubtedly know, Gingrich is not in complete conformity with the Church's position on when life begins.

    'There is more to consider, including that I believe Romney experienced a sincere turnabout while Governor of Massachusetts. I understand that he was truly interested in learning the facts about unborn life, and that when he did he ceased to be pro-choice, at least in his heart. I base my belief on having read or heard that the key person who briefed him at the time on the matter has since related that Romney sincerely wanted to learn the facts. All things taken into account, I favor Romney.'
© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media, and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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