Frist calls Santorum a man of "compassion"

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com April 29 2003 11:00 PM ET

Sen. Rick Santorum's leadership post is not in jeopardy, Senate majority leader Bill Frist said Tuesday, providing the Pennsylvania Republican with an important vote of confidence three weeks after his controversial remarks concerning homosexuality. "It's solid, it's absolutely solid," said Frist (R-Tenn.), responding to a reporter's question about Santorum's hold on his job as the number 3 Senate GOP leader.

"People who work with Rick day in, day out understand he's a man of caring, compassion, and tolerance," Frist said. "Strongly religious, a man of great faith, an effective and strong leader. In terms of questioning his leadership ability or position, it's a nonissue."

Meanwhile, House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) also came to Santorum's defense. Telling Congressional Quarterly that Santorum's position was "courageous and moral," DeLay said, "Frankly, I'm very proud of Rick Santorum for standing on principle."

Frist spoke as lawmakers returned to town in force following Congress's two-week spring break. Santorum's comments were made during an April 7 interview with the Associated Press, which was published when Congress was in recess. During the interview Santorum brought up the pending Supreme Court case about the Texas sodomy law, saying, "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. You have the right to anything."