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. The REAL Truth

    I have Rick, Newt and Ron keep going ALL the way up to the August convention. Then all the clowns will under the big top and let the laughter ensue. Sure will be fun to watch how they deal with aligning Newt's and RP's delegates.

    April 5, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Anti Sarah

    Rick-
    It's over.

    April 5, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Cathy L

    I don't understand why these conservative leaders continue to "privately" advise and plan with Santorum but yet they don't come out and publicly endorse him when it would seem that might be of benefit in rallying the troops!

    April 5, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. Justin

    Lets take an honest look at the numbers here.... If the GOP nominee gets 100% of the registered Republican votes it is not enough to win. You need independants. Now, the Tea Party/"true conservative" crowd keeps bashing "moderates", and "RINOs" within the GOP, and by extension all moderate independants. What is good for riling up your "base" to try and win the primary will devestate you in the general election. Ask Sharron Angle how it worked for her against Harry Reid.... It was her race to lose and once she went hard, hard right to win the nomination and then tried to tack moderate she not only lost her base, but was snubbed by the folks she was demonizing as not conservative enough.

    April 5, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. blackcurry

    Shut up, Mitch! You and your Republican cronies have done more to damage the image of government than anybody on the planet. Nobody is going to forget how you protect big business and the rich at the expense of the poor. Just keep pouring American money into countries that despise us and kill our people, while you sit on your thumb and do nothingl.

    April 5, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Ronson

    Santorum should drop out before Pennsylvania, otherwise he has no shot at running again, say in 2016 or 2020. If he wins PA, it doesn't really gain him anything, and if he loses there, that could possibly end his political aspirations for life. His problems are 1. that he has a HUGE ego and 2. he actually believes all evangelical bigots that tell him he's the only "true Christian" chosen one (despite Rick calling all Protestants not true Christians in 2004, and Mitt's Mormon faith, a.k.a. The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints, which reads the King James Bible, takes the sacrament, and pushes a "Christ-centered life"). "Slick Rick" should just slide on out.

    April 5, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. Spock500

    Rick Santorum. Tony Perkins. Gary Bauer. Wow. Any calls for Ralph Reed? Or Randall Terry? Or Alan Keyes?

    April 5, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. sue

    The republican party has to remember that we don't just consist of socially conservative people, we also have members who are fiscally conservative to the other side- who may switch if this continues

    April 5, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. vet in tx

    It's funny, when "conservatives" describe why they don't like a person, you can hear the same words and phrases they used when Obama was running.

    He doesn't have my values
    he doesn't know what it's like in "Real America"
    I just can't trust him

    Now, remember, when accused of being racist, one would reply, "just because I don't agree with him doesn't mean I'm racist"

    But now you are seeing racism against the Mormon religion, funny how that works, isn't it?

    April 5, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. liz

    Santorum is a liar and a biggoted idiot. He is not going to get in the White House so he may as well throw in the towel now. He a religious nut and wants to control everyone 's personal life. This new wave of war on women's rights is not going to fly. Let him keep his views to himself and let the rest of us have freedom of our own beliefs that we are entitled to. Opus Dei, isnt that the bunch of nuts who torture themselves in the name of God in the DaVinci Code? Great, just what we need, an American verson of the Taliban.

    April 5, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. James - St Petersburg FL

    I am voting for Barbie, at least she is made of authentic plastic!

    April 5, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  12. DPCA

    Santorum is only in it for his future which DOES NOT INCLUDE THE WHITE HOUSE. He is going to do the same thing that Mike (I have eaten too much) Huckabee did which means staying in it to gain fame and fortune. Based on his current suit size, Huckabee has done well being on fox.

    I can see Rick having a kind of Osmonds type show using his wife and children. Maybe a Hee Haw kind of theme.

    They can give out advice on how to control your wife and natural contraceptive techniques.

    Hell maybe Oprah will add their show to her network.

    Good luck Santorum clan.

    April 5, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. Jenny

    I believe it was CNN that reported just a few days ago that Newt was planning to throw his weight behind Mitt when he drops out. Last night, on CNN's Piers Morgan show, Piers (openly supportive of Obama, if an Englishman could vote in an American election) was urging the campaign heads of Santorum and Gingrich to unite and stop Romney – I guess they were listening.

    April 5, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. falelu

    Was Sarah palin in the meeting? Newt and rick just step down. Envy has limts. PLEASE .....

    April 5, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. D

    hahahaha! too late, foolks! waaaaay too late. you're stuck with R-Money and we all know it.

    April 5, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. Scott

    Oh, and the boy standing next to Santorum in this picture: HE'S the one flipping the bird off to the cameras when the entire family was standing together when Rick got the boot a few years ago. Good family values! You lose at a game, flip everyone else the bird! Nice and cheap-like!

    April 5, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. Bill

    The scary part is that you know if Romney gets the nomination he will almost have to pick Santorum, or another far-right conservative, as V.P. If they win the election, some nut-job will assasinate Romney and we'll be left with a President who wants to run the country under Biblical law (which is not much different than Shiriah law).

    April 5, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  18. Ruthanne

    How can Republicans be expected to unite with Dems for the good of the nation when they can't even unite behind one Republican candidate? Children playing grown-up politics.

    April 5, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. funktastic

    Pathetic... and they gripe Obama can't do anything.... they can't even follow their own rules....laughable.

    April 5, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  20. john

    The circus music is getting louder and louder, HEY EVERYONE!!! The GOP has come to town....

    April 5, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. FED UP

    Ron Paul just set an attendance record at the UCLA Campus event in Berkley. Where was CNN? Where was MSN or even Fox for that matter. Despite all the voter fraud the media blackouts Ron still has his support. why are we still talking about Santorum? I personally will right in Dr Paul in the general election even if he does not get the GOP nomination. Obama and Romney have the same thing to offer. Four more years of what we have had for the past twelve. Anyone tired of lame duck yet?

    April 5, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  22. jb

    What a group of scary people to be in a room with. Were they speaking in tongues also?

    April 5, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  23. Olaf Big

    Teddy Roosevelt for president! Even in his time, he was 200 years ahead of Rick Santorum, who has yet to notice that we are not living in Middle Ages anymore. Seriously, where are Republican leaders of Roosevelt's or, dropping down the bar with a bang, at least Nixon's caliber?

    April 5, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. Rickwh

    As a Democrat, I love the republicant lineup. I have never seen the Republicant party so disorganized and unwilling to back a single candidate. Oh sure, once one of them gets the nomination I know that everyone will back them but in this case it will be done so very reluctantly. The Republicant party – the gift that keeps on giving. LOL

    April 5, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  25. Rich

    The conservative movement should be ashamed.....But they are helping the dems so go for it.

    April 5, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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