Candidates court the evangelical vote

January 2, 2012 5:16:48 PM PST
Ann Milosevic was among the faithful who stood in the cold trying to get a moment with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. The media had so crowded the small cafe that some of Iowa's many Christian voters could not greet their latest political savior.

"We need God back in Government. Its huge in my opinion," said Milosevic, of Polk City, Iowa.

It is estimated that so-called evangelical Christians could make up as much as 40 percent of Tuesday's Republican caucusers. It is an estimate not lost on the candidates who realize a unified faith-based vote could carry the day on Tuesday night.

"I have probably the strongest level of support of the evangelical community here in Iowa," Santorum said. "We have over 200 pastor endorsement," said Rep. Michelle Bachmann

But at some point during the past several weeks, Santorum, outspoken about his Christianity, appears to have become the favorite among evangelical voters. It is an explanation for his sudden rise in pre-election polls.

"I think that kind of conviction politician is what voters have been sitting and waiting for," Santorum said.

"I've looked at Perry and what he's had to say and I'm kinda leaning toward Bachman, maybe," said Larry Cox of Des Moines.

After flirtations with Bachman, Cain, Perry and Gingrich, a candidate evangelicals appear as a group not to have considered is front runner Mitt Romney.

"I don't know why but I just haven't gotten the sense that he's the guy," Milosevic said. "I just don't get that sense."