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. migeli

    It appears that the right wing-nuts are spreading rumors that our president Obama is a communist or at the least s socialist.Yet Republicants are heavily supported by big businesses who outsourced millions of American jobs to communist China.Evidently it is Republicans who prefer communism.I for one love my so-called socialist benefits, the ones Republicans would like to destroy,like social security,medicare and the U.S. Postal Service.Better "Socialism"then the Fascism that the right would like us to live under.Let's cut out the lies. OBAMA 4 MORE YEARS!

    February 10, 2012 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  2. John

    “375,000 isn’t a lot of money (to make in one year).”
    "The banks are scared to death. They're feeling the same thing that you're feeling."
    “Corporations are PEOPLE, my friend!”
    “I’ll bet you $10,000, right here, right now….”
    "I’m not concerned with the very poor... that’s not my focus."

    -Bishop Willard Mitt Romney

    February 10, 2012 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  3. Andrew

    Romney is not a conservative!

    February 10, 2012 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  4. Shells

    what are shells? are they front organizations? or hollowed out industry? or hollowed out agencies? how do shells work? is it like a money laundering thing?

    February 10, 2012 04:44 am at 4:44 am |
  5. Shells

    maybe some type of privatizing profits and socializing losses scheme.

    February 10, 2012 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  6. Shells

    where are they hiking all of this money off to? caymen? but what else? wars maybe. no, they would make us pay for that.

    February 10, 2012 04:47 am at 4:47 am |
  7. interesting relationship

    doesn't it seem like people either love money or hate it? and the people split out by professions as such? its probably based a little bit in religion. patriarchy for sure. but people that love money hate the poor and people that hate money hate the rich. (mostly they just live in different worlds. not true hate so much as just don't see what the other sees/doesn't see in it)

    February 10, 2012 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  8. Wes

    Romney not a conservative he supported gun control, Ronmeycare, and abortion. he nothing but another Obummer.

    February 10, 2012 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  9. sean

    Mitt Romney will be the GOP nominee in 2012. He will hold his own in a debate with Obama. And he has a very good chance of actually winning the White House. I beleive personally that his credentials speak for themselves. And he looks Presidential, which is more than I can say for the other candidates. he gets my support.

    February 10, 2012 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  10. Templar X

    Romney is a RINO (Republican In Name Only). He certainly is not a fiscal conservative, like Ron Paul. In that sense, there is very little difference between Romney and Obama!

    February 10, 2012 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  11. Bob Luzzi

    Hey, CNN, Sure would be nice if you identified the so-called "conservatives" he met. That way we the people could have judged if they were conservatives or RINOs.

    February 10, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  12. Bill

    Only high school dropouts from Nashville end a sentence without puinctuation.

    February 10, 2012 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  13. Allen

    Mitt Romney is plenty Conservative.

    America is a majority "right-of-center" nation and that's where Mitt Romney stands. Romney is no Ideologue but he is a smart level-headed common-sense Fiscal Conservative.

    If you look at the TOP 2012 issues of Jobs, economic growth, deficit reduction, entiltlement reform, and repealing ObamaCare and then match the candidates experiences against those TOP issues Mitt Romney stands out as the guy we should hire on November 6th 2012

    I don't believe we should Stay-the-course with or current president.

    February 10, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  14. David Kramer

    Maybe in his speech he can tell everyone of why he attacks others instead of standing on his principles.
    You know, like his 2nd Amendment rights stance.
    Or maybe his belief that the US Constitution does not only restrict the Federal government from mandating things but allows a state to mandate it. I mean, heck, we all know that just because the US Constitution does not allow slavery, states can do it though.
    Or maybe his baby killing stance.
    Or maybe his Keynesian beliefs.
    Yeah, I would like to hear about the ONE stance he took besides his ability to make money in the capitalist society we have all fought and died for. Maybe he could enlighten us about his leftist.........ooops, his conservative beliefs.

    February 10, 2012 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  15. Dan, OH

    Ann Coulter you're breaking my heart!

    February 10, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  16. boheb

    He is and will never be a conservative. He is a liberal yankee twit, lying his butt off, just like obummer.

    February 10, 2012 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  17. Mike Jones

    Romney the RINO

    February 10, 2012 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  18. JMissal

    The fact that Ron paul is not being allowed to participate in CPAC should be a signal that the establishment does NOT want him has President and the efforts to silence him are staggering.

    February 10, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  19. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    "Please, please, please let me be the Candidate. I promise I will be good and toe the Conservative line. After all, you touted me as the Conservative alternative to John McCain 4 years ago. What happened? Now you love everyone else but me."

    February 10, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  20. keith A. sillsbury

    Romney will talk about getting federal spending down to 2008 levels. ??? You mean UP to 2008 levels. Don't forget to include the war spending.

    February 10, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  21. james

    Ithink that we conservatives are making a big mistake backing Mitt Romney.Please Search this to find my reason why i feel the way i do .SEARCH The Mormon plan for America and the rise of Mitt Romney.I love my country and my church and i think the Mormon Church is leaning toward being a cult,Iam not being disrespectful ,They call my church a cult to.I belone to the First Assembly of GOD........The red neck from western PA..Please hear me

    February 10, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  22. SandyLester

    Romney as left as BHO. Gingrich and Santorum more conservative than not. Paul running from a different planet.
    Romney needs to move to the democrat party where he would feel more in tune with that ideology. Paul just needs to return to reality, go home and play with his grand kids.

    February 10, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  23. Dave

    I hear a lot of criticism of Romney these days from the Washington insiders to the President and talk radio. My opinion is that they are wrong. Romney is by far the best candidate and he has a great deal of private sector and government experience. He has taken bad situations and turned them around. He has raised the most money (which will be needed to run against Obama). He also has logical and practical policies, rather than extreme positions.

    February 10, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  24. nomail

    "Only non conservative candidate can meet conservative leaders privately"
    AMEN to that comment.

    February 10, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
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