Former US conservative presidential candidate Rick Santorum has endorsed PM Tony Abbott and Pope Francis' success as providing valuable lessons for a divided Republican Party at the next US election, reports the SMH.
Mr Santorum is a conservative Catholic who has publicly expressed his suspicions of everything from Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection to President Obama's insistence on widespread college education and the destructive potential of same-sex marriage.
In an interview on the Rupert Murdoch-owned US network Fox News on Sunday, the former, and possibly future, Republican Presidential candidate, suggested that the Grand Old Party could learn a lot from Mr Abbott.
The discussion of Mr Abbott began when the Fox News host asked Mr Santorum whether, 'as a hardliner on social issues,' he thought the Republicans could seduce moderate voters with a right-leaning platform.
'Well, I'd throw out a couple of individuals. A guy named Tony Abbott, who is a hardliner, who is now the Prime Minister of Australia.
'You know, Australia is clearly to the left of us on most of these, quote, moral cultural issues. Yet Tony Abbott is a conservative Catholic who didn't change his positions one bit, but was able to go out there and connect with average voters.'
As well as observing Mr Abbott, Mr Santorum suggested Republicans could learn a good deal from Pope Francis.
'Pope Francis hasn't changed one doctrine of the Catholic Church but he's getting four times the crowd,' Mr Santorum said. 'Why? Because of the way he's communicating to the average person out there.'
FULL STORY Conservative former US Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum endorses lessons from 'hardliner' Tony Abbott (The Sydney Morning Herald)