Santorum to lay out his political future
June 7th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum to lay out his political future

Washington (CNN) – Two months after he suspended his presidential campaign, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum on Friday will lay out his future plans as he looks for ways to make sure his voice is heard and his influence is felt as a leader of the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

According to two sources with knowledge of his plans, Santorum is expected to announce he is forming a political committee - a so-called 501 (c)(4) advocacy group - that would give him a vehicle to push issues important to him and a platform to stay engaged.

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"He needs to set up those political foundations going forward, to take his message forward and to build the support base he will need in the future," said Brent Bozell, a conservative activist and chairman of the organization ForAmerica.

He is expected to discuss his next moves in media appearances Friday and is scheduled to speak before what will likely be a very friendly audience of conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago.

Santorum, whom activists call a standard-bearer for the conservative wing of the party, has been looking for ways to promote the causes and principles he pushed during the campaign, such as repealing the Obama administration's health care reform initiative, building the nation's manufacturing sector and trumpeting ways to strengthen the family.

As a staunch opponent of abortion and proponent of traditional marriage, he is widely perceived to be a major voice for those causes in the GOP.

"It was pretty obvious social conservatism had a champion in the presidential race, and that was Rick Santorum," Hogan Gidley, the Santorum campaign communications director, told CNN. "It is pretty clear there is an appetite" for that in the party, he added.

Several conservative leaders who have talked to Santorum told CNN that he wants to be active politically and to make sure he stays engaged.

In an e-mail to supporters last month, Santorum previewed his next chapter. "I am extremely excited that I will soon be sharing with you exactly how we can play a major role in defeating Obama, elect trusted conservatives all across the country, and hold candidates accountable to the promises they make to us at election time. And believe me, I am going to need you to play a critical role."

Santorum will also have available the resources of the Red, White and Blue Fund - the super PAC that backed his presidential bid. It has since turned into a leadership group that can help support Santorum's political travel, donate to political candidates he backs and give him a platform. It had just under $324,000 in the bank as of April 30.

He will have to use the donor lists gathered from his presidential bid to raise funds and finance his efforts. His campaign still had debt totaling more than $2 million at the end of April, and he has sent out e-mails to supporters urging them to help him erase it.

Santorum won a lot of praise from the conservative wing of the party for being the last major opponent against Romney in the primary.

"More than any other conservative who ran for president this year he has a following because he was the last person standing," long-time conservative leader Richard Viguerie, a friend of Santorum's, told CNN. "He has a big following now and can build that larger."

Before he pulled out, the Romney and Santorum campaigns and the candidates themselves exchanged harsh words. It's not clear, however, just how much the wounds have healed.

Santorum met with Romney a month after pulling out and endorsed him on May 7 in a late-night email, which some analysts described as tepid because the actual announcement fell in the 13th paragraph.

Santorum defended the way he announced the endorsement in an interview on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

"It was a rough-and-tumble campaign," he said on the show. "I can't say it would have been an easy thing the next day to turn around and say, 'Let's just go forward.' It was tough and so I wanted an opportunity to, sort of, think about it a little bit and (allow) family think about it."

Santorum has yet to appear with Romney on the campaign trail, though representatives for Santorum and Romney have held some discussions about Santorum hitting the road for the presumptive GOP nominee, one source with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

"I do think Santorum has a role to play on the campaign trail and that role is to bridge the differences between team Romney and social conservatives," said Ford O'Connell, who worked on the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008.

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He stressed Santorum would boost the Republican ticket by campaigning in Iowa and in areas with a large concentration of blue collar workers, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.

"It does beehoove Santorum to go out on the campaign trail because he is trying to run in either 2016 or run for another office down the road," O'Connell said.

Santorum has recently waded into the political waters with some endorsements of conservatives running in recent Senate primaries: former Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz, Indiana treasurer Richard Mourdock and Nebraska attorney general Jon Bruning.

Later Friday, Santorum will appear at fundraisers for Cruz and the Texas Republican Party.

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, said one area where Santorum can have influence will be to help build support for House and Senate candidates because he connects with conservative supporters.

"He can use that and build upon that to help support conservative candidates," Perkins told CNN. "He has a very important role to play."

Besides mapping out his next political steps, he also has had to figure out how to support his family financially. He is expected to be a major draw on the speaking circuit.


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Donkey Party

    Allow me to sum up your political future in four words Mr. Frothy, you don't have one.

    June 7, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  2. Larry L

    The GOP can always find room for a politician who can move from ultra-right wing, Evangelical radical to a guy who can support Mitt Romney – the "worst candidate" and the "same as Obama". Weasel.

    June 7, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  3. once upon a horse

    I think part of his secret plan would be hoping Mitt loses so he can run again for president in 2016. Of course he would NEVER admit such a thing in public, but since he once claimed that Romney is the WORST candidate the GOP could put up against Obama, Ricky might get his wish.

    June 7, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  4. Dan5404

    Scenario: he fails to achieve any serious political office, so he becomes a preacher at a fundamentalist church in South Carolina to perpetuate his ultra right arguments against gays, women's right,. poor people, and revives his lie that the Dutch euthanize people when they get old, plus others he concocted. He loses the church's tax exempt status and gets fired. Finally, he starts a Super Pac of ultra conservative evangelicals so his lies can be perpetuated in television commercials anonymously in an attempt to create a government dictated by religion.

    June 7, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I would have liked to see Santorum have gone farther. He is really what the conservatives really wanted. Romney is a half a conservative like George W. Bush; wants to cut taxes but doesn't understand that we need to do to pay down the debt. You just can't cut taxes and spending. The economy partially depends upon government spending.

    June 7, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  6. Kwiana

    So basically he's setting up a Super PAC of his own . What exactly do these people do? Where does the money go??

    June 7, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  7. Richard "BONEHEAD" Cheney

    A way to earn a living while pushing his personal agenda.

    June 7, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  8. Arfisher

    Romney probably didnot offer him enough money.

    June 7, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  9. Randy, San Francisco

    Santorum should apply with FOX news as a political analyst. FOX news is always looking for another bombastic right wing political hack.

    June 8, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  10. Thomas

    History has already layed out former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum .

    Former Pennsylvania Senator !

    June 8, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  11. Marry

    Of cause, Santorum will stay. He needed a moment time to plan how to stay on the road to big money. He has found it: Continue to play “holier than thou” with no problems spreading misinformation in public (lying the blue out of the sky!), keep butting into your private lives if you are not like “him”, diverting the public attention from the effects a Romney administration would have on their lives (all for the 1%, but losing your sanity and life’s in new wars for you and to hell with a lasting economy). All of his “conservative” inclinations are based on MONEY for him – not on support of the country. Wow, what a Christian! You are going to vote for that? Think again!!

    June 8, 2012 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  12. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    GOBP wingnut. Follow the money.

    June 8, 2012 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  13. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Saint Orem has a politicaL FUTURE???? When did that happen/

    June 8, 2012 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  14. Errm

    So tired of this guy's derpy face and 16th century morality.

    June 8, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  15. Marie MD

    Third BIG laugh on a Friday morning. What political future?
    He's a BIG time loser who swears like a man without any education in front of his daughter to a reporter who was asking him to explain a statement he made.

    June 8, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |