Santorum's private meetings focused on his way forward
April 5th, 2012
05:53 PM ET
2 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. Ivan Bial

    I can just see it now when President Santorum holds his weekly "exorcisms" for congress members that disagree with him.

    April 5, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. avd

    So let me see if I get this straight Rick....

    You said that you're staying in the race so Americans can have a choice. So now you're having a meeting to get "conservatives to join together to stop Mitt Romney." That to me doesn't sound like you're staying in to let Americans vote, but to split the party and turn them against the leading contender for no other reason than to save your own selfish needs that you can't lose.

    At this point, you've disgusted me so much in the things you've said and done, I wouldn't vote for you if you were the last GOP standing.

    You lack so much humility that you can't even drop out until you get a win in your own home state. What... to just say that you won PA?? Your home state? Rick, at this point, you are beginning to look desperate.

    April 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. JimH2011

    The thing is, seems like the mormons are just fine with the evangelicals. It's the evangelicals who are afraid of the mormons.

    April 5, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. sortakinda

    Some "secret." When it is splashed all over BS-CNN, it is by definition, NOT a secret.

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

    It's really sad Rick – who you're starting to look like at this point is Newt Gingrich. Stomping your feet in aggravation that the American people didn't want you. You're so angry you'll do anything to stop Mitt from winning the election against Obama, even if it means sacrificing your standards.

    That's poor Rick!

    Just stop already!

    April 5, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  6. weezer

    Santorum's secret meeting is likely with Opus Dei, and the Pope. Rome probably sees this as their best opportunity in 2000 years to become a world power again. Once they have their puppet Rick in there, they will control the most powerful economy and military in the world. The Vatican will have nukes at their disposal to impose their religious will. The Crusades will be re-started with terrifying nuclear fury. The Middle East will be a field of glass; the infidels a whisper of ash and smoke. Pope Benedict (Ratzinger) will sit in his throne in Washington with his secret Nazi agenda.....damn....I should write a graphic novel....

    April 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. Solex

    I am still amazed at all of the "I am voting for Romney because he the best chance of beating Obama" posts.

    Do you not care about his views on things like the economy, the health care debate, his stance on illegal immigration, his ideas to lower fuel costs – anything?

    Nope – it's "Anybody but Obama".

    Your lack of interest in the welfare of our country along with your obvious racism is why Obama will win in November.

    Then you can start choosing which person has the best chance to "beat Hillary".

    April 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    It would be interesting to hear who these "conservative leaders" are. Could their names be Charles and David by any chance?

    April 5, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. John Herling

    Santorum wants Gingrich to end his bid? How long before Santorum has to end his own bid? The handwriting's on the wall for Santorum and he doesn't see it.

    April 5, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. Pan3

    yeah, line yourself with the hate group Family Reserch Council, that'll sercure your win. LOL!!

    April 5, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Debby

    Perkins is a fool and so are the other conservatives who listen to this numb nut. Santorum is NOT Presidential material period.

    April 5, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. robertopp

    It is about time that Santorquemada got lost and went home!

    April 5, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Lee

    The problem that St. Rick doesn't understand is the fact that some polls have shown that about half of Newt's few remaining supporters actually have Mitt as the second choice, and some would even go to Ron Paul. If Newt drops, Santorum doesn't gain any advantage over Romney.

    April 5, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. mary

    This Pennsylvanian can tell you that I'll be really surprised if Santorum carrys the state. I just don't see it. But I'm a Democrat and wouldn't vote for him anyway. Didn't before either. To think he held the seat that the Honorable John Heinz held is enough to make me ill. With Rick it has to his way or no way. He is sacantimonious A..., always has been and always will be! Can't wait until November 2012 when this over. Yes, it will be President Obama I pray, and then Hillary for eight years. Works for me!!!

    April 5, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. allens

    santorum is a hateful and crazy guy running for president of the united states. that simple

    April 5, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. Smeagel4T

    Ayatollah Santorum has to figure out how to do something other than flat-out LIE on a regular basis. His latest LIE was that CA Universities don't have American history courses. ALL the univesities have American history courses except UCSF, which is strictly a medical school. Many of the universities have degrees in American history. Ayatollah Santorum OUTRIGHT LIED - AGAIN.

    The Bush Administration already demonstrated you cannot run a country based on lies. Until these Republicans decide to become responsible Americans once again, like they were 30+ years ago when I saw reasons to vote for them, they are nothing but a on-going danger to our country.

    April 5, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. Lee

    When Mitt saw that he could not get enough delegates to win the nomination 4 years ago, he graceously dropped out and endorsed McCain. After Obama won, the party establishment got behind Romney for a run this time. Mike Huckabee stayed in the race against McCain until long after he was mathmatically out, trying some kind of denial strategy like we see Rick and Newt doing today. Now while Mitt is running again, Huckabee has a TV show on Fox. This reality should teach Rick something.

    April 5, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. Scott

    Solex
    I am still amazed at all of the "I am voting for Romney because he the best chance of beating Obama" posts.

    Do you not care about his views on things like the economy, the health care debate, his stance on illegal immigration, his ideas to lower fuel costs – anything?

    Nope – it's "Anybody but Obama".

    Your lack of interest in the welfare of our country along with your obvious racism is why Obama will win in November.

    Then you can start choosing which person has the best chance to "beat Hillary".

    I agree with you 100%. Romney has not only said some pretty awful things about what he proposes for the country, but he is in fact going back on stances he previously took years ago. So even if these people "know" Romneys view, we have no idea if it will even be different, better, or worse than Obama.

    Please vote for intelligence in November, and vote for Obama!

    April 5, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. PotD

    Didn't this same Rick Santorum endorse Mitt Romney back in 2008? What has changed this time?

    April 5, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. rmatten

    A good reason for Santorum getting the nomination is that it will give Americans the opportunity to vote between the responsible views of Democrats and Independents versus right-wing Republicans. That way, we can put the GOP out of its misery.

    April 5, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  21. Dark Drew

    Just give it up Rick. Your becoming the problem in this election, not the solution, Your polarizing of America is ripping us apart. So Much for 30 years of progression into the modern day.

    April 5, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    These anybody but Romney primaries have been fun,I can't wait until the anybody but Romney convention in Tampa.

    April 5, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. Charles

    So, Romney (as of last night) has 377 more delegates than Santorum, but Santorum only has 143 more delegates than Gingrich. Using the Santorum/Religious Right math in saying Gingrich should get out, isn't it also fair for Romney to ask Santorum to get out? His lead is more than double the lead of Santorum over Ginrich, and his lead over Santorum is more than the total number of delegates that Santorum has (278). Take some of your own advice Ricky.

    April 5, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  24. luigi

    newt and Paul should drop out following. Santo-nuto

    April 5, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Bran

    Sure sign of impending Apocalypse: Santorum makes Gingrich look rational.

    April 5, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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