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. Hot doggity

    Vic, how come you have a problem with people meeting? If the other candidates aren't smart enough to arrange meetings, how is it Romney's problem? If Santorum or Gingrich met with them would you be okay? I know you don't like Romney, but I hope he wins. Why? Because I believe he will do a good job, and as a bonus to piss you off.

    February 9, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  2. byron

    Mitt is going to have problems with the base of the Republican Party. He is out of touch and not a true conservative.

    February 9, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  3. Joeie

    Romney is the only one capable of getting elected. The other two are glorified lobbyists.

    February 9, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  4. David

    I hope they don't fall for Silk Mittens pandering. Mitt is not conservative, his record shows a liberal big government policy. How is Mittens 'electable' when he is the only republican candidate that has a clearly large grass movement against him? The great search for the 'anit-Romney' candidate should give the Republican leadership, if they care about winning, great pause and reflection. But it doesn't seem to have happend. They still are pushing this McCain 2.0 down our throats.

    February 9, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  5. Rick

    Romney is not a conservative, and a lot of conservatives like me will not vote for him if he is the Republican nominee. Period. This will be a repeat of Obama vs. McCain.

    February 9, 2012 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  6. Ann Pierce

    Rick S. state win was not a vote against Romney but a vote against Newt.

    February 9, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  7. Ann Pierce

    Just because Mitt has a zip code from a liberal state does not make him a liberal. He is the most conservative candidate we have on the gop ticket. Look at santorums voting record if you want to see a real liberal. Plus. Mitt has a unique set of skills between being Governor and the amazing job he did turning the Olympics from muck and mire and scandal to the best Olympics ever put on in the USA. They were predicting they wouldn't break even and they ended up making hundreds of millions of dollars. The guy is a genius and a good man. Can't say that about Newt.

    February 9, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  8. Ron

    He met with them so he could promise them whatever they want to hear so he can get elected, then do what the hell he wants to do later.
    Just like a lib... promise the farm knowing good and well you're not gonna pay up.

    February 9, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  9. kbrum1066

    So a non-conservative thinks that meeting with a few people that are called conservative will make him acceptable to all conservatives? This makes little sense... especially since almost all political advisers and politicians do not consider conservatives a viable force in politics.

    February 9, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  10. Tired of republican lies

    Why is it that everything with these rich ppl are sercret secret secret????

    February 9, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  11. gg

    next move born again christian

    February 9, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  12. Riley

    President Romney! I Like it!!!

    February 9, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. MacaroniGuy

    3 types of conservatives: (a) religious right (Santorum); (b) libertarian (Paul); (c) economic/fiscal (Romney). To those of the (a) and (b) variety, Romney looks like a non-conservative. To those of us in the (c) variety, (a) and (b) are non-conservatives. - This entire GOP nominating process has revealed the simple divisions that were there all along, just making them stark. - The GOP is a big tent, by political necessity. Making it smaller spells suicide. So, I suggest to my so-called 'purist' brethren, that you grow-up, realize like all little children that you are not the center of the universe, that you are just one of three types of conservative, that we must all unite behind the most electable candidate if we are to survive as a political species. Of those who are left, Romney is clearly the most electable, as national polling has consistently shown for months and months. He is also the one with a clear resume of success, not just a list of political positions and slogans. - If the tables were turned, and Santorum (whom I consider a very nice guy) were the most electable, then I'd say: let's unite behind him.

    Time to get with the program and coalesce behind one guy. Obama & his team are gearing up for the fight of the century, and the longer we idle, the more we play into team Obama's hands.

    February 9, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  14. MJS

    Romney is not a Conservative/Constitutionalist yet expects Conservatives to vote for him- they won't. All the meetings in the world won't change that.

    No base= no victory.

    February 9, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  15. Ford

    Unfortunately for Romney conservatives are not delivered by leaders. They think for themselves.

    February 9, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  16. Todd P.

    Romney LIVES a super conservative life EVERY DAY. Beer-drinking Santorum looks like a PARTY BOY, in comparison. Romney doesn't smoke, drink, swear, lie, cheat, dance, etc., as it is forbidden by his Faith. Mitt may be a little stiff, but I'm sure Einstein, Jonas Salk, Marie Curie, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. weren't/aren't "regular guys" either. I want the guy that was Valedictorian (BYU) in school and a SUPER-productive/successful in life to be my President, not somebody I'm comfortable "having a beer with". Let's get America back on top!!...........

    February 9, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  17. Patricia Leath

    Why did members of CPAC accept an invitation from the Romney campaign staff for a little "tete a tete" at the Marriott Wardman Park? These scumbags will do anything to get Romney elected. The question remains: Can Romney beat Obama? The answer is no.

    February 9, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  18. A Texan

    It`s about $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. He has always used OPM ( other peoples money). Never his own.

    February 9, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  19. Klaus

    "This year, it's Romney who is positioned as the centrist frontrunner, with Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul running to his right." Will Obama Lite be the CPAC choice this year? The winner of the 2011 and 2010 CPAC straw polls, Ron Paul, wasn't invited this year for some reason. WIll Donald Trump be speaking at this year's CPAC like he did in 2011?

    February 9, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  20. dreamer96

    Birth control argument is really about money...having higher insurance payments to the tax free churches, schools, and hospitals....and the tea party saying no new taxes...

    98% 0f Catholic women all ready use birth control, just look at their families 3 or 4 kids not 10 for 12 kids..

    February 9, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  21. bellez8

    Bribes or more voter fraud? taking 36 hrs to count 40,000 votes?

    February 9, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  22. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    It takes a fool not to recognize the very rich have lost any money doing this economic downturn, when in fact it was they who profited and continue to do so. I refuse to help them continue to profit at the expense of all Americans. They talk about President Obama and how bad he is for America, but the truth is he hasn't been bad for them at all, they are simply angry because he has disclosed who they are.

    February 9, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  23. Eyeforaneye

    Was it a smoke filled room?

    February 9, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  24. dennis lee

    Seriously Romney would be a continuation of what we have had for going on twelve years, why would any sensible person even think of voting for him. And Santorum and Gingrich are not even an option because it is impossible for them to get enough Delegates to the convention. I swear I can not believe that the gop do not even explain the process to voters better, and the media makes it worse. I am betting Ron Paul supporters do what they did last time and vote another party and O-man will be president again!

    February 9, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  25. disgruntled

    I can almost smell the pandering from here...

    February 9, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
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