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. Zenfire

    Rick is a divider. He cannot except defeat. But his pride is doing nothing but tear down the Republican Party. Way to go Rick. Stab at it with your last breath.

    April 5, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. Peace

    Be strong Rick and do not let anyone shake you up. Conservatives will never be sold to Romney. They rejected him in 2008 and still are now. Romney can clinch the number of delegates he needs, BUT not only delegates will vote in Nov. he needs Conservatives as well BUT they are not at all swayed by him.

    April 5, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. rick1948

    If it was a "secret" meeting, why is it in the news?

    April 5, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  4. one unhappy voter.

    Run Rick Run you are the best man for the job, there is no way Mitt can beat the left, he is the left.

    April 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    God wrote on page 2:

    ...Republicans and Union people and academics are exclusively Democrat, ....
    -----------------
    Well that just about covers everyone. Thanks for that. Everyone is a Democrat, even the Rpeublicans.

    April 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. Freddo

    The meeting has nothing to do with getting Santorum to step aside ... rotflmao ...

    If they're idiots, that might be the case. If they're rational, well .. buh-bye Rickie.

    April 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. ked5

    these were conservative *religious* leaders, not political leaders. they all need a reality check – santorum can't manage to get on the ballot in places, what on earth makes him think he can beat obama? the consolation is his refusal to get out should put paid to any political aspirations in the future and we won't have to hear from him ever again.

    April 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. David in FL

    Peace, please there's some writing on the wall you should get familiar with.. i am uber conservative and stand with Mitt.

    April 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. DRod

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

    OK. What other lie do these Republicans have.

    April 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. George

    He is sort of failure at keeping things secret, isn't he?

    April 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Norm

    Keep going Ricky
    The longer you GOPhers attack each othr, the easier it will be for Obama to get re-elected.
    The party of me, me, me is going to self destruct like it did in 2008.

    April 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. ThomasZ

    Santorum is one of the biggest liars to ever run for office, well, maybe except for John Edwards. I'm sick of this nit wit, why can't he see he is through. He is also through with the DNC if he keeps trying to destroy the Party.

    April 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  13. Gary in Tampa

    I guess the conservative bible myth believers really are that dumb if they think the Ayatollah Santorum has a snowballs chance in hell of winning. he didn't even win a second term in his home state. He'll probably come out of the closet next year...god knows he's a closet case.

    April 5, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. SP, PA

    What a Joke.. Santorum is not at all a conservative. He is just dancing in tune with the democrats to destroy GOP. He begged democrats to vote for him MI and Wisconsin. Media is exalting him to just to devide GOP base against failed Pres. Understand this GOPers or get doomed in the General election.

    April 5, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. FrenchyinON

    Why is Ric Santorum fighting so hard to win a war he'd lose no matter what?

    April 5, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. BinMes

    I wish he would stay in the race. It is great that the American people can see what kind of leaders the Republican party has. All three of them want to take us back to the good old days when the church and corporations had more power. I believe we fought a war against that but I must be mistaken. I want the church and the corporations to stay the h3ll out of my life. I church that baptized dead people. A church that says it is a mortal sin to use contraception (98% of it's female members have used birth control – the remaining 2% where nuns).

    April 5, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  17. DRod

    It's time for all Republicans to get in line and get ready for the landslide defeat in November. Unite and take the loss with dignity at least. It's amusing to see Republicans scurry to the middle on issues because they know what's coming. The extreme right mentality might have gotten you elected in the 2010 midterm elections but that doesn't mean your save.

    April 5, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. girish

    He should go to church and become priest.He should send his children to church rather than colleges,so they stay away from contraception and abortion

    April 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Derek

    I am convinced that Grinch is still in the race because he was promised the VP spot by Romps.. If Grinch had dropped out a month ago, Romps would not be so far ahead and would likely lose..

    April 5, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Jerry

    This guy (Santorum) is a glutton for punishment. It's obvious that he will never even come close to Mr. Romney. His misplaced pride does not let him see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    This coming from a life-long Democrat. And of course, I definitely DO NOT support Obamas lies and smoke and mirrors!

    April 5, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. ChipnDale

    Let us not muddy the water by suggesting that religious extremism is par with conservatism. What most Americans care about is the economy and jobs. As long as Rick continues to divide the masses and continues to draw appeal from states where people have been known to marry members of their own family, he will never be seen as a realistic option. For the record, strangely, Rick garnishes the most of the Democratic vote where it is permitted. What does that say about his appeal to liberals? A true fiscal conservative wouldn't have that appeal.

    April 5, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. mauve123

    Ricky had his meeting in his r-e-a-l home state–Virginia. Stay out of Pennsylvania Rick you've "used" us long enough. We are rooting for you to lose by a large margin. Take advantage of Virginia for awhile. Pa can't afford you. Go back to the 12th centruy life that you seem to embrace. Take an American History course in one of the California Universities that you lied about. Meditate about how much money you cost the taxpayers in PA in your cyber school tuition scam in Penn Hills School District in PA. In other words Rick go home to Virginia and stay there.

    April 5, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. HenryMiller

    @Zenfire: "Rick is a divider."

    That's because religion is a divider and Santorum is all about religion.

    If the GOP doesn't get it real soon now that they're not going to win by constantly trying to inflict their religion on everyone, they're going to lose and hand the election to Obama. Then we all lose...

    April 5, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  24. Alex

    Back in 2008 primaries. Mitt Romney did not drop out until John McCain had won all the votes to make him the Repubican 2008 candidate . Now, Mitt Romney expects an easy ride. Expects everyone to step aside even though he has little over half of the votes needed to win.

    April 5, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. sarah

    Secret meeting is not so secret...

    April 5, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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