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It's All Politics
12:37 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Santorum Gets A Lift From Anti-Abortion Group

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has been getting help from anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List as he campaigns this primary season, so far receiving nearly $500,000 in ads and other support.

So far the group has run a total of $249,000 in radio ads in Michigan and Ohio, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. In addition, a half-dozen members are conducting a bus tour through the primary states on what they call the "Rick Bus," a bright blue vehicle emblazoned with a giant photo of the candidate.

Their message is simple: "For people who care about the right to life, Rick Santorum is the only candidate for president," as an ad that aired in Michigan put it.

"The reality is, for Santorum the abortion issue is at his core," said Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, explaining why the group is supporting Santorum over GOP front-runner Mitt Romney. "Romney certainly has not been the leader that Santorum has."

The bus tour averages four to five stops per day, with the goal of rallying support for Santorum among local women who oppose abortion. Among those traveling are Dannenfelser and Maggie Gallagher, director of the Culture War Victory Fund, a non-profit group.

The tour began in Michigan leading up to that state's Feb. 28 primary, followed by the Super Tuesday states of Ohio, Tennessee and Georgia and, most recently, Alabama and Mississippi, which vote Tuesday.

So far, the Susan B. Anthony List has not aired any negative advertisements in the primary. But when asked whether the group will spend money against candidates in upcoming races, Dannenfelser said, "We will do what we need to do. We don't have any principle against drawing contrasts between candidates."

In 2008 the group spent $98,001 supporting John McCain, and $16,174 opposing Barack Obama. She also says that donations have come "pretty easy" so far from the organization's existing donor base.

According to its website, the Susan B. Anthony List was established in 1992, in response to the abortion rights PAC EMILY'S List, which helped to elect a number of abortion-rights supporters to Congress that year. Santorum is the first presidential primary candidate to be endorsed by the organization, which has supported over 90 anti-abortion members of Congress since its founding.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.