150 Christian Conservatives Back Santorum
Texas evangelicals spurn hometown favorite Newt Gingrich
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 14, 2012 3:40 PM CST
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum leaves the Cook Out restaurant, Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, in Gaffney, S.C.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Newser) – Rick Santorum's quest to emerge as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney received a boost today from a group of evangelicals and others who voted to back his candidacy in a last-ditch effort to stop the front-runner's march to the nomination. About 150 social conservatives meeting in Texas sided with Santorum over a home-state favorite, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The gathering reflected their dissatisfaction with Romney over abortion rights and other issues and their belief that they needed to unite behind one contender if they had any hope of derailing the former Massachusetts governor after his victories in Iowa and New Hampshire. Their decision comes a week before the next contest, Jan. 21 in South Carolina, where social conservatives are an influential voting bloc. But it was not immediately clear what effect the backing will have.