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. Rudy NYC

    BREAKING NEWS: A being with a large head and yellow eyes was spotted entering the secret hidden location of the Santorum meeting. The being has been tentatively identified as Karl Rove. It has been rumored that Mr. Rove was heard saying, "Resistance is futile." as he entered the premises.

    April 5, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. jumpugly

    There was a reason why the good people of PA ran him out on a rail by the biggest incumbent senatorial loss of all time.
    Rick will legislate when and if you can breath, let alone drink a beer or do anything he deems a sin; a Neocon of the worst kind and so far right of right it defies description.
    He can't buy an endorsement from the party faithful especially in the senate. His arrogance made him tons of enemies it seems. He is the absolute worst choice for the GOP. Not even "W" will come out and support him.

    April 5, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Santorum should not cave in to the conservative establishment. His goal is to make it an open convention. He needs to up his attacks on Romney before time runs out.

    April 5, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. Robert

    Secret meeting was held with Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton. Rick said a couple of the folks fired by Romney were black, so they should join his protest against him. Justice for Rick!

    April 5, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Dennis

    Mitt Romney is the best chance of beating Obama. Santorum cannot win. As a Republican, I wish Santoum would go away.

    April 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Vicky

    Rick, I think you should stay in the race. You are a true conservative and are the only legitimate contrast to the policies of our current administration. Having said that, I am a supporter of President Obama and his policies. I'm simply saying that many in the GOP have this thing all wrong. You are the only alternative should the people who are truly conservative want to cast their vote and lend their support. I do not believe Mitt Romney can beat President Obama. He will be painted into a corner repeatedly because it is still unclear what he actually stands for. You on the other hand, are consistent with your message and that is why I think you are the only candidate that has a chance. The analysts or the establishment are getting this thing wrong. There is a real disconnect between what the people are saying and thinking and what is being reported.

    Best wishes to you with whatever you decide. Your wife, mother and family are wonderful and I've enjoyed watching them lend their support to you. I actually respect and agree with many of your positions, just not all of them. It appears I am more in alignment with President Obama, just not on everything.

    April 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. Bill (Louisiana)

    This is a good article as to why Obama will win no matter what. The so called tea party (strictest conservatives) will do anything other than compromize with other politicians (republican, democrat, or other). I hope Romney sees what he is in for from both democrat and republican hardliners are coming from. The first mistake we made was voting Obama for President and the second was voting all the Tea Party Hard Line conservitives into Congress. Lets not make a third mistake, clean house of those who can't negotiate and compromize to keep our government operating with a signed budget before October 1st every year and also increase jobs in both the government and private sector. History showed up that we have the most growth with unemployment under 6% and also with more manufacturing jobs in the United states. It is pretty bad when we purchase an IBM or HP or Dell PC and when we call for SERVICE, we end up talking to someone in India or South America where there is a problem with speaking and understanding English clearly. May as well by the cheapest PC and throw it in the trash if you have a problem with it, not everyone makes enough money to do that.

    April 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. ART

    News flash Rick its over you have lost and you are a loser

    April 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Rick is a divider."

    The whole freaking Republican Party is filled with nothing but intolerance and division.

    April 5, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. JimH2011

    This is just code for "Anti-Mormon Evangelical leaders meet with Santorum to try and stop a mormon from becoming president" – These guys are bigoted and Santorum is selfish. It's time to get out and work against Obama

    April 5, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. Cnn User 2931112

    Obama is so happy to hear all of this.
    Obama 2012!!

    April 5, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. monkeyman

    If Santorum were to some get the Republican ticket, I think it would almost ensure A democratic victory. The majority of America is not extremely conservative. I am a registered Republican but I do not believe that Santorum's views and idealology reflect mine

    April 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. larry august

    Obviously, Santorum isn't a team player, which is a good reason he shouldn't be president, if he wants to beat Obama, he should quit and get behind Romney

    April 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    This had to be a strange meeting. (1) If it was such a secret meeting, why are we reading about it in the news? (2) Do Republicans not know the only way 2 people can keep a secret is that one of them is dead? Oh that's right, Santorums campaign is dead on arrival. Their limited brains just don't realize it yet.

    April 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. Billy, NYC

    Keep Going Rick !
    You are the hope of the Obama re-election 2012.

    April 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. JimH2011

    HenryMiller hit the nail on the head. Funny how Santorum was promoting how he drinks alcohol at campaign events in Wisconsin. Why would someone even bring that up unless they were trying to focus on Romney's religion?

    April 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. Randy

    In the beginning of all this I really felt that Mr. Santorum would be a great Vice President for Mr. Romney. Now there have been so much mud flung and bridges burned that his political career is over after this election. Maybe come late night talk show will give him a spot.

    April 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. mk1

    Keep up the good fight Rick, we are behind you all the way!!!! wink wink wink

    April 5, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  19. Daveinil

    Santorum supporters are now begining to resemble Ron Paul's core of rabid supporters who think that their extreme opinions should constitute the basis for the Party. Get over it, people!

    April 5, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Billy, NYC

    Rick, I strongly suggest you to announce your VP running mate right now. Oprah for VP!
    Then you might have a chance to defeat Romney.

    April 5, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. mm

    QUICK- What's the first thing you think when you hear "Rick Santorum"?

    Wh acko loser, right? Most people do.

    April 5, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  22. starman

    Mormons vs evangelicals... nothing more, nothing less.

    April 5, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. LetsBeCivil

    "...the meeting was "requested by conservative leaders to discuss the best path moving forward in terms of getting conservatives to join together to stop Mitt Romney and eventually beat President Barack Obama in November."
    Yeah, right. You liars are so pathetic and transparent. You want us to beleive the Republicans want to back the 2nd place man when all they want to do is beat Obama

    April 5, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. excalifornian

    Santorum IS the best conservative candidate and the right leader for America! Obama is a complete failure. Paul and Gingrich are losers and should drop out! If they had done so already Rick would be even or ahead of Romney at this point. Romney can't grow his base among conservatives so his only option is to move more to the left and hope conservatives will accept him rather than Obama. Unless you are a liberal nut job (we all know they are insane) Rick is the best answer and the best candidate.

    April 5, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  25. Rsprings

    Santorum cannot beat Obama. He needs to throw in the towel and get behind Romney. He an have all the secret meetings he want but Romney will get the delegate count. Should he not and they try a brokered convention tactic to get Santorum as the nominee then the conservatives will be ignoring the will of the primary voters. Obama does that...Republican conservatives should not.

    April 5, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
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