Pundits say Santorum will survive

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com April 28 2003 11:00 PM ET

Political analysts said they expect Sen. Rick Santorum to remain popular in Pennsylvania despite a flap over his recent remarks about homosexuality. "I think anybody who has followed Rick Santorum already knows where he stands on gay rights," said John Delano, a public policy professor at Carnegie Mellon University. "He is a very conservative Republican. Nothing new there, and it hasn't hurt him yet."

The recent outrage over Santorum's comments isn't the first time that activists have taken to the street to lambaste his views on homosexuality. In 1994 about 400 members of the group ACT UP blocked traffic during a Republican fund-raiser on the same block, chanting "Rick Santorum, go away!
Racist, sexist, antigay!"

Millersville University political science professor G. Terry Madonna said he doubted Santorum will lose many votes in a state where being a social conservative is rarely seen as a liability. "I don't think this imperils him politically at all," Madonna said.

Santorum said in an interview with the Associated Press last week that he believed states had a right to ban gay sex or other private behaviors that were "antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family."

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery," he said. Santorum spokeswoman Erica Clayton Wright said the lawmaker's comments were "were specific" to a pending U.S. Supreme Court case over a Texas sodomy law.

The remarks outraged gay rights groups, but the fallout has been moderate compared to the lashing Sen. Trent Lott received for praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist presidential campaign.  White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Friday that Santorum is doing a good job as party leader and is "an inclusive man."

At St. Joseph's University in suburban Philadelphia, the student union asked the school to rescind an invitation to Santorum to speak at a graduation ceremony on May 18. University trustees mulled over the request Friday, then said the invitation would stand.