Santorum's private meetings focused on his way forward
April 5th, 2012
05:53 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum's private meetings focused on his way forward

(CNN) – Rick Santorum participated in two meetings with conservative leaders on Thursday which focused on his candidacy, but not on whether rival Newt Gingrich should end his, sources with knowledge of the meetings told CNN.

"There was some frustration about the fact that Gingrich wasn't in Wisconsin, and if his vote had gone to Santorum then Santorum would have won, but I would not in any way say that meeting focused on getting Gingrich out," one participant said. This source and others spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity because of the non-public nature of the meeting.

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Another told CNN "the opinion of many in that room was that Santorum has a definite vision and positive message that he should stick to." The participant added, "he doesn't serve himself by getting into a pissing contest. He should present his vision," the source said.

Although it was not the focus of the meeting, participants did discuss how to sway Gingrich supporters to back Santorum. One participant said "time is too valuable to waste" on pushing out a candidate who has said he is determined to continue.

Santorum met in person with approximately a half-dozen others in Northern Virginia, then held a phone conversation with out of town supporters. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, participated in the call; participants at the Virginia meeting included veteran conservative activists Gary Bauer and Richard Viguerie, as well as conservative commentator Rebecca Hagelin and Brent Bozell, chairman of the ForAmerica organization.

Viguerie, a supporter of Santorum, said he and others urged the candidate to revamp the campaign strategy. He said the candidate is "prepared to make big, bold decisions."

"To a large extent we have lost control of the narrative of the campaign," he said. "We want to change the narrative - get it on small government, constitutional issues."

Bozell said the meeting was focused on the primary and general elections alike. He considers himself a friend of Santorum but has not endorsed in the race.

"The consensus was that the Santorum message is absolutely critical to the success of the Republicans this year," Bozell said. "No, no Republican candidate can win without Santorum's message which is not say that it is the only message that a Republican candidate needs to have."

Another characterized it as a brainstorming and mind-melding session.

"It was a realistic meeting. Everybody knows what's happened. What races lie ahead. Again, it wasn't any other big agenda other than to brainstorm ideas," the participant said.

Team Santorum has pushed back over the past few days against any talk the candidate would drop his increasingly long shot bid for the GOP nomination prior to the April 24 primary in Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania.

When asked if they discussed what would happen if Santorum loses his native state, the participant characterized the conversations as "more general than that."

"It was, if delegate gap doesn't obviously close, what do you do? If Romney keeps getting endorsements, how much impact does that have?" they said.

However, the meetings – attended by Santorum supporters – had nothing to do with Santorum ending his White House bid, according to a source, despite his trailing delegate total and trio of losses on Tuesday.

– CNN's Candy Crowley, Dana Bash, Kevin Bohn, and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Also see:

Santorum enjoys three strikes

Romney makes general election pitch in Pennsylvania, but can't ignore Santorum

Santorum: Romney attacks to fall short in Pennsylvania


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum
soundoff (151 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    Santorum will lose Texas. The fat-cats in the "Orill Biddness" have already bought and paid for Mitt Romney. Texas is home to some of the major players in the dishonest and dishonorable "swift boat" club and they are poised to attack with whatever lies required.

    April 5, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  2. anagram_kid

    Sen. Santorum, please stay in the race unit Tampa! The people of this nation need you and Spkr. Gingrich as reminders of just how deplorable the GOP/TP has become. Sure Gov. Romney is a great example, but you two really help drive home the message that only white Christian men matter.

    Obama 2012 – Because he is for ALL Americans

    April 5, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  3. Adevilson Silva

    It depends on how much money they are willing to pay Santorum to give up.

    April 5, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. zip

    Nothing will derail the Mormon messiah. Our diapers are full. My wives are in the car. The dog is on the roof. Planet Kolob, here we come!!

    April 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. Sniffit

    "The source stresses that the meeting "does not have anything to do about Rick getting out of the race.""

    Yeah...it has everything to do with him trying to stay in it by attempting to broker a VP nod for himself.

    April 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    I hope they talk some sense into Santorun and get him to understand NOW is the time to close ranks and start working on the real election, the election to get Romney into the Whitehouse and Obama back to Chicago.

    April 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. Nick

    Rick, time to get out of the race. The math of delegates is not in your favor. Accept it and move on.

    April 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Just be Mitt's running-mate Rick!

    April 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. The REAL Truth

    Based on his OK win, Santorum WILL take Texas as he appeals to the religious redneck right down there.

    April 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. maine liberal

    best path moving forward in terms of getting conservatives to join together to stop Mitt Romney and eventually beat President Barack Obama in November."

    First get a real candidate that is not being controlled by the tea party and one that has ideas for the middle class. otherwise its Obama 2012

    April 5, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. BB77

    America can't afford Obama. Its that simple....

    April 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  12. Tracy

    Republicans are just silly since President Obama won. Just silly and out of control.

    April 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  13. Matt

    @ anagram_kid: Obama is not for me.

    April 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Felicita

    Please...please remain in the race!!! Been a deomcrat since i was able to vote when i came to this country from Itlay,but now i believe that the ideas and integrity are what this country needs now!!!

    April 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. Aezel

    Of COURSE Rick Santorum thinks he should keep running even though he has ZERO chance of getting nominated. He also thinks invisible people in the sky talk to him in his head. His grip on reality is loose at best.

    April 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. CNNuthin

    And on that day, the Legion of Doom was formed.

    April 5, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. K3Citizen

    The GOP has already caused enough damage to themselves. Santorum quitting now will show how bad the GOP really is, especially because of their hateful right wing rhetoric

    April 5, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. Ron Scooby

    Well, I'm sure Rich will go with his heart on this matter. Ahem...I mean create a fictious story.

    April 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. Bill

    Santorum is willing for the R's to lose for the sake of his unfounded ego trip.

    April 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. ouisee

    Looks like Rich Willard (Mitt) is going to take the White House in storm. He does not worry about the poor, they do not vote anyway, even if you give them a free ride. Just leave them behind for not voting. His dream cabinet will be Santorum, Gingrich, Palin, and that other person from Wisconsin with the new budget. Oh, and do not forget the Hispanic from Florida. What a lovely team! We need these guys!

    April 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  21. Robert

    I'd vote for Ron Paul way before I'd vote for Rick Santorum ... and that says something.

    April 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  22. ropers49

    Let the fools keep it up and keep Romney from taking his campaign to the president, the dems are loving Santorum, Paul and Newt right now.

    April 5, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. Brian G

    Conservatives have been trying to undermine the President since he took office, so it's not shocking to see they are trying to undermine Romney. If Romney brings him on as a running mate, after all of this, it's 100% apparent Mittens will say and do anything to win the election.

    April 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. Bri

    Don't trust him for one second. Have seen his real colors showing and they ain't pretty. Actually kinda scary. Someone please get him a taxi ride home. Quicker the better !

    April 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Time to get out, Rick

    April 5, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
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