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Abortion Top Concern for Michigan Social Conservative Voters

In a tight race, former U.S. senator Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney are battling for each vote in the days leading up to Michigan’s February 28th Republican primary election. Although Michigan is the state in which Mitt Romney was born, he is having difficulty winning the support of social conservative voters rallying behind Rick Santorum.

It might look like a campaign bus for Rick Santorum. And listening to conversations on board as it moves through Michigan, it might seem like Rick Santorum’s campaign bus.

But this bus is not connected to Rick Santorum's campaign for President. Marilyn Musgrave says it is more like a moving billboard. “We are doing an independent expenditure for Rick Santorum. By law we can not have any coordination with the campaign," she said.

The bus is paid for with money from several political action committees, including the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, where Musgrave is Vice President of Government Affairs. The Michigan bus tour is designed to drum up support for Rick Santorum, who they think best represents their conservative views about family, faith, and abortion.

“This is a big shot in the arm for Rick Santorum supporters in Michigan," she said.

Supporters like Portage, Michigan church worker Jamin Herold, who says his biggest reason for backing Santorum is his stand against abortion. Herold says that is an issue directly tied to the economy.

“Without having life, without having more people born, people are not out there buying cars, there are not those people to buy cars. There are not those people to do the manufacturing, to have things to be manufactured for them, and people are starting to realize that," he said.

The issue of whether or not abortion should be legal, is a constant campaign theme.

It is an issue that plagues Mitt Romney, who is accused of “flip-flopping” for once having supported a woman’s right to choose an abortion and now opposing it.

“You ran as a pro-choice candidate in the Senate in Massachusetts," one woman asked Mitt Romney at a campaign stop. "You have changed your position, and have become a pro-life candidate. How can we consider you trustworthy?"

“I was consistent as governor, as a pro-life Governor," he responded.

University of Michigan Political Science Professor Michael Heaney says pro-life social conservative voters could make or break Romney’s campaign. “They play a large part of the electorate here, and any candidate that does not have strong backing among social conservatives is going to run into trouble," he said.

And each vote counts, Romney and Santorum are virtually tied in opinion polling just days before the February 28 election.

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    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.