Romney meets privately with conservative leaders at CPAC
February 9th, 2012
05:37 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney meets privately with conservative leaders at CPAC

Washington (CNN) – Mitt Romney met quietly with a small group of conservative leaders in Washington on Thursday in an effort to reassure Republicans who remain skeptical about his candidacy, CNN has learned.

The Romney campaign arranged a "mix and mingle" session for the candidate to meet with conservatives Thursday afternoon at the Marriott Wardman Park, where the annual Conservative Political Action Conference is being held.

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The meeting, convened in a presidential suite, was billed as "a private reception for conservative leaders," according to a copy of the invitation obtained by CNN.

Romney huddled with a group of 30 people - which included officials from the National Rifle Association and the American Conservative Union along with some Republican donors - for about an hour, one participant told CNN.

Romney is slated to address CPAC Friday along with his two main rivals for the GOP nomination, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Thursday's reception came in the wake of Romney's three losses this week in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, stumbles that again raised nagging questions about the GOP frontrunner's ability to connect with the Republican base.

The participant who spoke to CNN said the meeting offered Romney a chance to make conservatives "feel comfortable" ahead of his big speech on Thursday.

A source close to Romney's campaign told CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger that Friday's speech will contain some economic messages conservatives will like, though the candidate is saving his major economic speech for February 24 in Detroit.

"Some on the right fear Romney is so uncomfortable talking about his own wealth that he would not support a reduction in marginal rates because it could be seen as pandering to the rich," said one source close to the campaign.

Romney will talk about getting federal spending down to 2008 levels, and will detail how Obama regulations are stifling economic growth. He will also touch on entitlement reform, advocating a plan along the lines of the bipartisan Ryan-Wyden framework.

The source said that on taxes, Romney may not get into as much specificity tomorrow as he will during his economy speech later this month.

The source who participated in Thursday's meeting said Romney has a keen understanding of the dynamics currently at play in the GOP race given his 2008 experience, when he emerged as the main conservative rival to John McCain in the waning days of the primary race before ending his campaign at CPAC that February.

The source said Romney has a keen understanding of the dynamics currently at play in the GOP race given his 2008 experience, when he emerged as the main conservative rival to John McCain in the waning days of the primary race before ending his campaign at CPAC that February.

This year, it's Romney who is positioned as the centrist frontrunner, with Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul running to his right.

"He knows exactly how people are reacting and feeling right now," the participant said of the Romney meeting. "He is going to have to give a big speech tomorrow and I think he just wanted to make some people feel comfortable. It's just an opportunity to talk to some friends."

Jim Bopp, Jr., an Indiana attorney and Republican National Committee member, is also reaching out to conservatives on Romney's behalf.

But Bopp, who endorsed Romney this week, downplayed the significance of Thursday's meeting, saying that Republicans are still getting a feel for all of the candidates, with Romney in the best position to win the nomination in the end.

"People have all sorts of reasons to support whatever candidate they choose when looking at the race," Bopp told CNN. "But I do see it coming around to Romney. I think Romney will dominate the race in the next few weeks, by Super Tuesday."

Also see:

Santorum targets Obama, Romney at raucous Texas rally

Bachmann: Santorum win a 'shot across the bow'

Gingrich looks to Super Tuesday lift

McCain blames turnout (not Romney) for Tuesday results

Romney: Rivals are 'Republicans who acted like Democrats'


Filed under: 2012 • CPAC 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. vic , nashville ,tn

    Only non conservative candidate can meet conservative leaders privately

    February 9, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    The longer the nomination contest goes on the more Romney has to move to the right of the political spectrum. If it drags on all the way to the convention, Romney will be so far right in order to please the right wing he won't be able to move back towards the center to attract moderates and independents. The other problem is Romney's inability to generate any excitement for his candidacy.

    February 9, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  3. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    Newsflash: Karl Rove's group, Elitists to Elect the Next Neocon Robot, rushed to install the latest software upgrade for Flipper the Elitist Robot. After successful installation and reboot, the Rodeny King ServicePack 2.0 worked to perfection as Flipper the Elitist Robot was heard saying "can't we all just get along."

    February 9, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  4. Geoffrey Ludt

    This is a hilarious treatment of Romney ... I LOL'd at the assertion that Romney ran as a conservative to McCain in 08 ... thanks for that!

    February 9, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  5. cynthia,chestertown,md

    We are all stockholders of US Government Inc and we are looking for someone to run the executive branch in the White House. Mitt Romney is the only candidate with executive experience and he has it at the highest level, running a state and saving the Winter Olympics. Neither Santorum or Gingirich has ANY executive experience...we already have a President without any exectutive experience...we don't want to replace him with another one!. Would you hire a non-mechanic to rebuild the diesel engine to pul a 300 car train..of course not. Think about what is needed, folks!

    February 9, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  6. ObamaisEVIL

    Well, by golly, if Jim Bopp Jr, nonetheless, from Brazil Indiana says Mitt (pro-abortion, pro homosexual marriage, pro ever increasing minimum wage, pro strengthening the "safety net", pro-global warming, and pro socialized medicine) is as good as gold, then so be it. I changed my mind. I'm now a Romney man.

    February 9, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  7. LawrenceAZ

    Yep, Romney likes to do things "in quiet rooms".

    February 9, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. RobertBC

    Buying more votes for 2012, More of the same, No news here. We will have O'bomb-us for four more years. :(

    February 9, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. ger,indianapolis,in

    Romney has a problem...he is not a conservative nor does he believe in the constitution, otherwise explain Romneycare. Cap and Trade, or TARP. Sorry he's a no go

    February 9, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  10. Romney is not My Hero

    Please give me MONEY!!! I'm a conservative!!! I wonder how many times this Robot flipped and flopped during the "huddle". Hopefully these people will be smart enough NOT to back this crazed lunatic, Satan-orum, Gangrene or that other one with the ill-fitting suits.

    February 9, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  11. celador2

    It always helps to meet and have personal contact with voters and base members. Ads and a record do not tell the entire story of what a candidate will do tomorrow.

    February 9, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  12. Al-NY,NY

    "PLEEEEEASE like me"

    February 9, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  13. Woman In California

    "mix and mingle" session. Were they all men? I wonder if what went around "came" around.....

    February 9, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  14. Anatole Pushkin

    Romney is third-rate frontrunner (" ").
    With his millions he could not even win in Iowa.
    And the limp wri$t journali$tS are all behind him. They all want President Barack Hussein Obama

    February 9, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  15. Jamie from Riverside

    He met with them and they still hate him.

    February 9, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  16. Ron

    Guess he didn't want to be seen as associating with the racist who spoke today about how diversity is harming America and the Jews are destroying the white bloodline!! LOL Wait until news of that speech hits the air waves. Now, it's all starting to make sense. I see why mcconnell and boehner and cantor set the demise of the President as their primary objective: they run around with white supremists. It must be killing them to see Obama as president and their failure on their #1 objective. OBTW, I wonder if Ron Christie and Mike Steele attended that speech today??

    February 9, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  17. Anatole Pushkin

    Romney is third-rate frontrunner (" ").
    With his millions he could not even win in Iowa.
    And the limp wri$t$ journali$tS are all behind him. They all want President Barack Hussein Obama reelected.
    This sissified frontrunner tag is too wimpy to be taken seriously.
    Trust me, this presumption is doomed to despair.

    February 9, 2012 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Were all five of Mitts sons who avoided military service invited to the privet meeting ?

    February 9, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  19. LacrosseMom(real one)

    I have said it before and I will say it again, the Religious-right-wing will not vote for Romney. He bought the votes in Florida.

    February 9, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  20. Cash

    I think he is trying to find out what they want to hear so he can pretend he agrees with them

    February 9, 2012 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  21. cali girl

    Money, whatever. Collect your millions you money grubbing sharleton. I wil just remind you of Meg Whitman, notorious ebay gazillionaire, all her money did not buy her a victory. And California was suffering financially with forelosures and the downfall of silicon valley, and she blew her wad on ads. Did she ever help the poor or needy? Nope. Romney is looking a lot like Meg. Take a cue from California folks and take the money as a no vote.

    February 9, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  22. bob

    romney is a "republican" from massachusetts. nuff said. I dont trust him to do anything conservative related at all. he gives the feeling of a clinton centrist.

    February 9, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  23. MadMax

    If you like Obama, you'll love Romney:

    Obama: Romney:

    TARP TARP
    Mandated Healthcare Mandated Healthcare
    Abortion Abortion
    Goldman Sachs Goldman Sachs

    Same dog different color!

    February 9, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  24. once upon a horse

    Mitt: "well am welcome here? Do you guys like me? Do you huh do you???" Pitiful!

    February 9, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  25. Larry in Houston

    yes – romney will take it, once super tuesday rolls around. But, If Santorum Stays in Texas, and attends all those churches with all thos pastors, he can get rid of the newter, pretty easily. Then, it will be : romney / santorum / & Paul.

    February 9, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
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