Santorum endorsed by ‘nation’s oldest & largest’ GOP volunteer group
October 29th, 2011
08:58 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum endorsed by ‘nation’s oldest & largest’ GOP volunteer group

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) -– Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has won the official endorsement of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies.

The group also gave Herman Cain its endorsement for vice president.

The decision to support Santorum and Cain came Saturday at the group’s Presidential Preference Convention in Des Moines, Iowa. The NFRA bills itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest Republican volunteer organization.” Its delegates refer to it as “the Republican wing of the Republican Party.”

Earlier Saturday, Texas Rep. Ron Paul won two separate tallies for the group’s presidential straw poll. That contest was dominated more by Paul's loyal supporters than by members of the NFRA.

Of the 94 NFRA delegate votes in the final endorsement tally, Santorum won 69, Cain 25. Attendees to the convention represented 26 of the 37 states where the NFRA operates.

Over six rounds of voting, members praised their picks, lobbied for support and – at times – argued forcefully.

The final decision went down to the wire. Over successive rounds of voting, candidates were dropped from consideration one by one.

Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson fared the worst. In the first round, they easily became the first political casualties, receiving no voices of support. The three men were dropped from consideration.

Next to go: Michele Bachmann. The Minnesota congresswoman received only two delegate votes in the first round – and none in the second.

On a motion to drop her name from consideration, one person urged the crowd, “Michele may be the dark horse. Let’s leave her.” Another yelled out: “Michele has voted consistently in the Congress for conservative causes.”

The scant pleadings were not enough. In the face of such little support, Bachmann’s name was also dropped from consideration.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul were summarily dismissed from endorsement consideration after one more voting round.

That left only Cain, Santorum and Texas Gov. Rick Perry standing in the fourth round – with 37, 38 and 20 votes, respectively. Racked with indecision and facing a possible deadlock, there were signs of an intra-group family feud.

Someone motioned that Perry also be removed from contention – a proposal staunchly opposed by the Texas governor’s supporters.

“The Perry people have no right to think he’s going to get endorsed,” one man said.

“If you came here to endorse Perry, at this point you should be thinking about Herman Cain or Rick Santorum,” yelled another man.

If Perry is dropped from the ballot, threatened former Ohio secretary of state and treasurer Ken Blackwell, “I will move that we not endorse.”

The Perry entreaties were ignored. Delegates dropped Perry from consideration and headed to a fifth round.

Once there, Santorum led Cain, 53 votes to 39.

That vote margin did not meet the two-thirds majority required by NFRA rules.

After another passionate round of pleading, caucusing, then voting, many of the Perry supporters threw their support behind Santorum, helping him to emerge as the winner.

–Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN


Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Rick Santorum
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Kynz

    Well, with picking Santorum, the NFRA just secured their irrelevance. Nice waste of energy, NFRA. We probably won't hear much more from your organization, will we?

    October 29, 2011 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  2. RillyKewl

    Are we talking about 69 people + 25 people? As in persons? Individuals? How many people does each one represent? Did I miss that in the article? Hello?
    Were there 100 people in the room even? What kind of silly sampling is this anyway?

    October 29, 2011 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  3. Sorensen

    Who the hell is the national federation of republican assemblies and who cares?

    October 29, 2011 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  4. andrew

    hahahahahaha santorum looks just as suprised as the world

    hmm 82 percent lets go with santorum

    October 29, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  5. Jay

    NFRA members and conference attendees vote for Ron Paul. NFRA leadership votes for irrelevance.

    October 29, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  6. realist88

    Ha – another instance of Ron Paul being flippantly dismissed despite strong grass-roots support – especially at their own venue!!! I can't wait to see what happens come primary season.

    October 29, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  7. Brian Horsfield

    These 94 delegates obviously don't like Ron Paul's foreign policy. They should listen to the US troops who have given Ron Paul more donations than all the other GOP candidates COMBINED! Support our troops – support Ron Paul! http://www.ronpaul2012.com/2011/10/18/ron-paul-campaign-tops-others-in-q3-active-military-donations/

    October 29, 2011 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  8. Jamie D.

    Ron Paul won the straw poll, the PEOPLE of Iowa have spoken. The 'delegates' are a hundred or so political insiders, who ignored the will of the people. Doesn't matter, the people are waking up more and more. Ron Paul 2012!

    October 29, 2011 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Dang I started reading the headline and thought it was going to say "Oldest Profession" and I thought wow Santorum does have a personality after all.

    October 29, 2011 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  10. Sophie

    Wow, this is such good news! Will keep on praying.

    October 29, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  11. Zious

    Is this some kind of a joke? Santorum can never become President ever. Who are these buffoons anyway and who do they think they represent?

    October 29, 2011 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  12. wsjiii

    Let's get this straight: Ron Paul scores a crushing victory at this straw poll, garnering a whopping 82 times more votes than Santorum, and Santorum gets the endorsement. The NFRA should change their slogan to “The RINO Wing of the Republican Party.”

    October 29, 2011 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  13. Antonio

    Is this some kind of a sick joke?

    October 29, 2011 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  14. nina

    Oh, yippee!! Now, maybe his poll numbers will double to 6%.

    October 29, 2011 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  15. Kaphen DePriest

    Rick Santorum? What a total fail!

    October 29, 2011 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  16. Adam

    It's a private poll, they have a right to endorse whomever the wish.

    Ron Paul 2012

    "Protect your right to be unfair"

    October 29, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  17. travis

    so yea! this is an absolute joke!!! ron paul won this straw poll with 82% of the iowa participants , and 26% of the vote from out of state participants.... Rick Santorum Tied for 3rd place in both in state and out of state voters! this is a sham. and in my opinion a disgrace to the republican party and to an organization that claims "The National Federation of Republican Assemblies is a grassroots movement to take back the Republican Party for the vast and disenfranchised majority of its members: Reagan conservatives, who believe in small government, lower taxes, free market capitalism, a strong defense, the right to life, and a decent America."

    October 29, 2011 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  18. JJ

    Wow. The man comes out of the closet by criticizing Iran's treatment of gays and all of a sudden he gets the endorsement of a ton of other GOP closet-dwellers. :)

    October 29, 2011 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  19. fayse

    So, they really know how to pick a loser. Santorum has never made the double digits in any poll, he is at the rock bottom. Are the Gop desperate?

    October 29, 2011 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  20. Dave Yerke

    Ron Paul? 2012? Freedom? Nice try but you still fail out blacking it out. 600 showed for Ron Paul, 100 stayed for santorum...

    October 29, 2011 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  21. Flo Hoffman

    What are you people going to do fix the vote totals when the elections come around and people actually show up to vote.
    I have never seen such non-sense. Why do they bother having straw polls if they are going to fix the result. Today you get away with it. There are millions of people watching. Have fun GOP you are on a slow death.

    October 29, 2011 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  22. dwech

    To consider Rick Santorum, even for a moment, as presidential material is the craziest thing I've heard since... well, Michelle Bachmann. I guess the "I believe in Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy' crowd came to Iowa one day. Is THIS what Republicans have in mind to recover economy, stability and strength in this country? Really? The guy who thinks the answer to a dysfunctional Social Security system is to have more children.... he's nuts, people.

    October 30, 2011 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  23. Charles

    Interesting.
    I think Ron Paul would have been a better choice for your organization to support. I have never heard him say negative word about anyone. Just the policies the people support. He knows far more about economics and foreign policy than any of the present candidates.
    He also has always shown courage despite being belittled and told he was crazy.
    Ron Paul predicted the housing and the economic disasters this country is going through and knows how to solve them. Good luck with your choices and God Bless America.

    October 30, 2011 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  24. logic in LA

    Are these people from the civil war era? The oldest GOP group?

    October 30, 2011 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  25. thomas

    Write in candidate for truth.

    Louie Gohmert, R-Tex. HE CAN CHANGE 2012

    October 30, 2011 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
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