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Rick Santorum Calls Out Scott Walker for Wife's Disagreement on Marriage Equality

Rick Santorum Calls Out Scott Walker for Wife's Disagreement on Marriage Equality

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Santorum has pounced on Scott Walker's wife Tonette admitting she's 'torn' on the issue of same-sex marriage as an apparent weakness in Walker's resolve on the issue.

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum went on the offensive Monday, attacking his newly announced GOP adversary Scott Walker's stance on same-sex marriage by suggesting that Walker's position is weakened by the influence of his wife, reports Politico.

In an interview with the conservative news site The Daily Caller, Santorum latched onto the fact that Walker's spouse, Tonette Walker, has not joined her husband in staunchly opposing marriage equality, instead appearing to remain carefully agnostic.

In a July 5 Washington Postinterview, Mrs. Walker explained that the issue is a difficult one for her because she cares about both her husband and their sons, Matt and Alex, who are vocally opposed to their father on the issue.

"I was torn. I have children who are very passionate [in favor of same-sex marriage], and Scott on his side is very passionate," she said. "It's hard for me because I have a cousin who I love dearly -- she is like a sister to me -- who is married to a woman, her partner of 18 years."

The Walkers's 19-year-old son Alex served as a witness at the wedding his mother mentioned. Walker himself did not attend the ceremony but did go to the reception.

Following Walker's official announcement on Monday that he'll be running for the Republican presidential nomination, Santorum told The Daily Caller that he wouldn't be surprised to now see Walker waver on the marriage issue. "Spouses matter," Santorum explained. "When your spouse is not in-sync with you -- particularly on cultural issues, moral issues -- [you] tend not be as active on those issues."

The news site suggested that Walker may actually be attempting to "signal" to more "socially moderate" members of the Republican party through his wife's statements that he can be swayed on the marriage issue. A Reuters/Ipsos poll last week showed that more than half of all Americans support same-sex marriage -- despite two-thirds of Republicans remaining opposed -- meaning an anti-marriage equality candidate could hurt the GOP's chances in the November 2016 general election.

Walker, for the record, has been a longtime opponent of marriage equality, and within hours of the Supreme Court's ruling. formally issued a statement calling for a constitutional amendment to let states define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. However, the Wisconsin governor muted his position in the weeks leading up to and following the ruling. During a June 12 press conference, when reporters asked him if he had changed his stance, he responded, "No. I'm just not stating one at all," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.

And as the Washington Post reports, Walker did not push his criticism of same-sex marriage at a Colorado donor dinner the evening of the Court's historic decision, despite speaking to a receptive audience of 4,000 conservatives. Instead, Walker cautioned that, "We should respect the opinions of others in America. But that in return means that they not only respect our opinions, they respct what is written in the constiution."

He's appeared to take a similarly "respectful" stance with his family's opinions, telling the Post that their disagreement with him on the issue means he may need to "fin[d] a different way of explaining it, so that they can appreciate where I am coming from."

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Mitch Kellaway