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. knowndoyen

    "Rick Santorum is meeting behind closed doors Thursday with some conservative leaders". What leaders? It could just be his wife, because all the real conservative leaders have backed Romney.

    April 5, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. Matt

    Santorum and the his conservative leaders ideology are simply a danger for US, US freedom and international respect. He has no ieas about anything except radicalization of all issues. He is different color of Palin with no brain, with a great respect.

    April 5, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. billy

    Hopefully he will listen to these folks when they tell him IT IS OVER RICK !!

    April 5, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. Robert

    Keep on runnin' Rick. Keep on going. The more the Republican candidates keep attacking one another, the more country can see what a lousy, hateful bunch they are. Obama couldn't possibly buy campaign advertising with more bang than just watching the Republican party implode.

    April 5, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. TJeff1776

    NEED HIM....what for.....so he can help join church and state.....he has so stated.

    April 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Brian G - Conservatives have been trying to undermine the President since he took office,
    =========================================================================
    Why do you think conservatives should support Obama's leftwing socialist agenda? Did Reid and Peliosi support Bush? Of course and they actively worked to sabotage him, especially with Iraq. Heck, even many Democrats don't support Obama's socialist agenda. The Democrat party really does need to change its name to the Socialiast Democrat Party to more accurately reflect what it stands for. I'm surprised George Soros didn't insist on that when he bought the Democrat Party.

    April 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. JT

    How about going to a Math 101 course?

    April 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. MeMelvin

    Who are they trying to kid! The meeting did NOT include a discussion of Santorum stepping out of the race.
    Elephant poop!

    April 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. Foreverwar

    Rick is toast. He should pack up his simpleton ideas and head back to the stone age.

    April 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. Admi

    It seems that Gingritch was kept in the race, just so as to see to that Santorum doesn't become a real threat, somewhere some people are having their mission accomplished party.

    April 5, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. gg

    santorum, new,t and romney can be bought

    April 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Justin

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

    That's typical republican speak for: Rick will be getting out of the race, and soon.

    April 5, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. Monkey

    Republican "leader": "Pssst! What kind of meeting is it?"

    Rick: "The secret-kind."

    April 5, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. Independent Miss Truster

    Dear Mr. Santorum: While I'm an independent voter aligned with no party (and apparently a little more educated than most of the respondents based on spelling and vocabulary) I would like you to know that if I were to consider voting Republican in November, you would not be my vote. I would vote the known evil Democrat over a known idiot/unknown evil. Please just sign out and leave the GOP nomination to the big boys who don't rant about religious topics. (You'd think the Mormon would be the one pinned for that since most half-witted Americans don't even know what Mormon beliefs are before they castrate and cauterize someone for them. Go figure.)

    April 5, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. God

    Larry,

    It's actually a CEO from Oklahoma that funded the swift boat campaign. And Texas has liberals in the cities, and conservatives in the countryside/suburbs, just like most other states, ie Colorado, Oregon, New Jersey, Oklahoma, etc. And the "big oil" thing is incorrect – I work for big oil and am a northeastern liberal transplant. So it's impossible to generalize- the north versus south thing became irrelevant over the last few decades as people became more mobile and the internet spread various social views. What astounds me is that everyone assumes that oil people are conservative Republicans and Union people and academics are exclusively Democrat, and that there will always be "Red" and "Blue" states.

    April 5, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. cardiffpa

    At what point did the word "conservative" become co-opted to mean "cranky obnxious theocrat"?

    April 5, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. swschrad

    that Rick guy from the sanitarium is done. he and his base do not have the money or the numbers. pure and simple. that is because he and his base do not represent the hopes and dreams of most Americans.

    as for the religious conservatives behind Santorum... focus this week on the unmatchable Gift the Lord has given us, beyond all earthly struggles, and rejoice with me in the ultimate release to come. that transcends today, tomorrow, politics period.

    April 5, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. Tom

    I hope he stays in and fights to the end. I love watching this train wreck.

    April 5, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. GI Joe

    Will that be Karl Rove or the Koch Brothers paying you off (millions) to get out?

    April 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Nick

    Remember Clinton and Obama's secret meeting during the 08 primaries? It was about this point in the primary too. Santorum is bargaining his exit. Wonder what he wants in return? Romney was in 2nd place in 08, and now he's the frontrunner. Republicans coronate their nominees, rather than electing them. How much you wanna bet he's negotiating 2016 to be "his turn"...

    April 5, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. Darlene

    Santorum is now to the point of being an embarrassment. He is not thinking of the Republican Party, if he was he would know that for every day he stays in the race he takes away time from defeating Obama. McCain was right, Santorum is irrelevent, but it is distracting.

    April 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. ladyjag

    The repub's say they want to make Obama a one term President, but they don't offer anything. You need to be able to vote for something and apparnetly that something is not a repub

    April 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. travis

    Santorum has totally lost touch with reality!

    A meeting with conservatives to plan a way to stop Romney......what a joke.

    I want to see hime get trounced in Pennsylvania so we never have to here any more about this clown in the future.

    Casey beat him by 18 points in the senate race......Romney should be able to take him out by 4 points or better.

    April 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. parkmore

    Rick Santorum did not get it yet. It's over man, too bad. Just go back home and happy Friday to everyone

    April 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. Bob

    This clown has absolutely no chance of winning the presidency. Majority of his ideas are probably not even believable to himself. Clown!

    April 5, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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