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UPDATE: Rick Santorum urged Mitt Romney to turn President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage into a campaign issue. “This is a very potent weapon, if you will, for Governor Romney if he's willing to step up and take advantage of a president who is very much out of touch with the values of America,” Santorum said in an interview Friday night, reports CNN.
Saturday, May 12 at 8:10 a.m.: Everyone seems to agree that President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality is not as important as the economy for the vast majority of voters. But that doesn’t mean Christian conservatives aren’t cheering. The issue could end up solidifying support for Mitt Romney among a constituency that has long been skeptical of his candidacy, points out the Washington Post. Pastors in key swing states will begin discussing the issue this Sunday and will continue throughout the campaign. For their part, Activist groups are already planning voter drives centered around the marriage issue and will continue to push Romney to take a stronger stance against equality, notes the Post.
Republicans widely agree the issue will be used selectively to keep the focus on the economy. But that doesn’t mean activists aren’t happy about the fact they can seize on the issue to portray Obama as a flip-flopper and to boost conservative support for Romney, reports the Associated Press. Republican strategists say the issue could be crucial in several key swing states, where a one- or two-point boost could make all the difference.
For the most part though, the issue so far isn’t really changing lots of minds. Six in 10 Americans say Obama’s support of marriage rights for same-sex couples won’t make a difference to how they vote, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll. Although 26 percent say the endorsement would make them less likely to vote for Obama, 52 percent of those are Republicans. Overall, 51 percent of Americans approve of marriage equality, while 45 percent disapprove. Seventy-one percent of Democrats, 53 percent of independents, and 23 percent of Republicans express support for extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.
Although some pundits have predicted the issue could cause black Americans to abandon Obama at the polls, so far there isn’t a lot of anger about the issue. The Associated Press talks to African-Americans in key states who say they will continue to support the president even if they disagree with him on marriage. Interestingly, some of those interviewed questioned whether Obama really believes what he said, suggesting he likely took the stand because it was politically necessary.