Romney meets privately with conservative leaders at CPAC
February 9th, 2012
05:37 PM ET
9 years ago

Romney meets privately with conservative leaders at CPAC

Washington (CNN) - Mitt Romney met quietly with a small group of conservative leaders in Washington on Thursday in an effort to reassure Republicans who remain skeptical about his candidacy, CNN has learned.

The Romney campaign arranged a "mix and mingle" session for the candidate to meet with conservatives Thursday afternoon at the Marriott Wardman Park, where the annual Conservative Political Action Conference is being held.

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The meeting, convened in a presidential suite, was billed as "a private reception for conservative leaders," according to a copy of the invitation obtained by CNN.

Romney huddled with a group of 30 people - which included officials from the National Rifle Association and the American Conservative Union along with some Republican donors - for about an hour, one participant told CNN.

Romney is slated to address CPAC Friday along with his two main rivals for the GOP nomination, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Thursday's reception came in the wake of Romney's three losses this week in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, stumbles that again raised nagging questions about the GOP frontrunner's ability to connect with the Republican base.

The participant who spoke to CNN said the meeting offered Romney a chance to make conservatives "feel comfortable" ahead of his big speech on Thursday.

A source close to Romney's campaign told CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger that Friday's speech will contain some economic messages conservatives will like, though the candidate is saving his major economic speech for February 24 in Detroit.

"Some on the right fear Romney is so uncomfortable talking about his own wealth that he would not support a reduction in marginal rates because it could be seen as pandering to the rich," said one source close to the campaign.

Romney will talk about getting federal spending down to 2008 levels, and will detail how Obama regulations are stifling economic growth. He will also touch on entitlement reform, advocating a plan along the lines of the bipartisan Ryan-Wyden framework.

The source said that on taxes, Romney may not get into as much specificity tomorrow as he will during his economy speech later this month.

The source who participated in Thursday's meeting said Romney has a keen understanding of the dynamics currently at play in the GOP race given his 2008 experience, when he emerged as the main conservative rival to John McCain in the waning days of the primary race before ending his campaign at CPAC that February.

The source said Romney has a keen understanding of the dynamics currently at play in the GOP race given his 2008 experience, when he emerged as the main conservative rival to John McCain in the waning days of the primary race before ending his campaign at CPAC that February.

This year, it's Romney who is positioned as the centrist frontrunner, with Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul running to his right.

"He knows exactly how people are reacting and feeling right now," the participant said of the Romney meeting. "He is going to have to give a big speech tomorrow and I think he just wanted to make some people feel comfortable. It's just an opportunity to talk to some friends."

Jim Bopp, Jr., an Indiana attorney and Republican National Committee member, is also reaching out to conservatives on Romney's behalf.

But Bopp, who endorsed Romney this week, downplayed the significance of Thursday's meeting, saying that Republicans are still getting a feel for all of the candidates, with Romney in the best position to win the nomination in the end.

"People have all sorts of reasons to support whatever candidate they choose when looking at the race," Bopp told CNN. "But I do see it coming around to Romney. I think Romney will dominate the race in the next few weeks, by Super Tuesday."

Also see:

Santorum targets Obama, Romney at raucous Texas rally

Bachmann: Santorum win a 'shot across the bow'

Gingrich looks to Super Tuesday lift

McCain blames turnout (not Romney) for Tuesday results

Romney: Rivals are 'Republicans who acted like Democrats'

Filed under: 2012 • CPAC 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. Buck O'Fama

    Minuses, RINO mushy linguine spined politician who has the looks of a ken doll with a plastic demeanor. Pluses are that he is stable, knows how to run a business, govern, is organized, honest as the day is long and he's not Obama.

    Well there you have it libtards, anybody but Obama. If our entire line up died in a flaming plane wreck and Pee Wee Herman wanted to run as a republican, we'd take him. Know what? He'd win because it's anybody but you Obama. Anybody.

    February 9, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  2. Scott

    Okay, Mitt, want us to believe you? You got a lot of boots to lick. Start with promising to repeal every gun law, obamacare, and every JOB KILLING TREATY in the last thirty years, As well as letting us fully deploy domestic oil production and getting us out of the UN. Sign a contract pledging your and your wifes lives on it, and conservatives MAY believe you. I got no issues with the LDS, in fact I know some pretty impressive folks who are Mormons, and I think the Mormon mindset will serve America well, but I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK, and you seem to be getting in the WAY....

    February 9, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  3. Uomo Del Ghiaccio

    Rick Santorium is a Social Conservative, but is no Fiscal Conservative.
    Newt GIngrich is Neither, just a Newtist trying to inflate his ego.
    Ron Paul is a Libertarian with some interesting ideas and some goofy ones.
    Mitt Romney is the most Balanced Conservative running with the best chance of beating Barrack Obama.

    February 9, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  4. Annie66

    What in the he** is Romney doing meeting with Conservative activists? Romney despises Conservatives. He really prefers Marxism. BTW, why are we paying for Secret Service protection for him? He and his plastic wife wear their temple garments and these are supposed to protect God's chosen children from mortal harm. No need to waste taxpayer money on these two. For that matter, I would prefer not to waste my tax dollars on the Communist and Big Mouth, too.

    February 9, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  5. hollaye

    Romney is the most CONSERVATIVE of all the candidates. Romney received a prestigious Canterbury Medal in 2008 from the Religious Freedom Becket Fund. He reduced the deficient and had a rainy day savings of several billion dollars when he left as Governor. His running mates have shown by experience how to spend, spend and spend. Our country is currently owned by China and we need to get it back and Romney can do it. The GOP needs to WAKE UP and get behind Romney because he can lead and beat Obama. Romney can save this country.

    February 9, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  6. julien vergara

    Republican should make up their mind. Romney is the best candidate for president. He got all the qualification

    February 9, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  7. Nothing new here

    Hopefully this older bunch of GOP cronies will fade away – won't be soon enough.
    The younger Republicans are more in the Ron Paul arena. It will be up to the milleniums to bring back the old Barry Goldwater standards.
    Hopefully the young Repubs will want a country that is founded on the principles of the CONSTITUTION, and not on a Bible.

    February 9, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  8. DR

    Only "look at me" conservatives would use conservative leaders for political gain by meeting in public

    February 9, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  9. Nothing new here

    The old crony GOP need to step aside, and let the younger generation set the pace for the Republican Party.
    The younger generation in more in the Ron Paul arena.
    They want a country that is founded on the Constitution, and not a book of superstitious fairy tales.

    February 9, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  10. rage

    Hes not a conservative. Never has been and never will be. If Republican leadership had any b***s, theyd push him aside and nominate someone the base is supporting.

    February 9, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  11. conservative!

    I've decided: if it comes down to Romney the RINO, I will be voting for Mickey Mouse for president.

    February 9, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  12. ditchdigger

    This guy is a Mass. politition, like a Chicago politition, without the street level thugs, so what?

    February 9, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  13. My name is Jose Jimenez

    So within the ultra conservative group Romney will shift gears talking about all the things near and dear to them. Romney's problem is he is not a real conservative. He can make all the red meat speeches and at the end of the day he will still be a moderate. These people will just have to hold their noses because they are looking at the GOP = GREEDY OPPOSITION PARTY nominee for 2012.

    February 9, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  14. GrannyRob

    The fact that Romney has to meet privately with CPAC leaders tells me what I already knew - this center-left candidate has no idea what being a conservative really means.

    February 10, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  15. dreamer96

    Ah yes a little old fashion political deal making....

    February 10, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  16. Rickster

    You are repeating yourself:

    "when he emerged as the main conservative rival to John McCain in the waning days of the primary race before ending his campaign at CPAC that February."

    That sentence fragment is repeated in two consecutive paragraphs. Where have I read that before?

    February 10, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  17. blagostwin

    Mit we don't want you to try and be something you have never been or ever will be, a real conservative. So let a true conservative come forward and represent the American people. Instead of using the purse in an attempt to destroy them. Is that how you want to be remembered?

    February 10, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  18. syd

    GOP. Con.- Repup.'s have no legs to run on. They have no real ideas how to help our country get back on track. So what they do ?, they lie. And then they lie. They can't help because they are mainly responsible for "THE- FALL " of our AMERICA. " THE-FALL " is from their greed. Profit is their god. Sent americans job out the U.S.A. . Then blame the blacks and poor people . Take Government jobs from hard working americans. (E.O.E) How are people suppose to buy their cheap- labored- overprice- product ? Ignorant ! Anti- christ wicked crooked haters. GOD please REST THEIR SOULS.

    February 10, 2012 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  19. proof read

    The source said Romney has a keen understanding of the dynamics currently at play in the GOP race given his 2008 experience, when he emerged as the main conservative rival to John McCain in the waning days of the primary race before ending his campaign at CPAC that February.

    February 10, 2012 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  20. jason

    Getting more endorsements won't help the moderate McRomney become any more appealing to conservatives. The GOP ran a moderate in the last election and look what happened.

    If we are to believe the media, then McRomney (the inevitable, electable, bla bla) candidate should have had this nomination wrapped-up by now? He has the politician's endorsements, glowing endorsements from the right and left media, the punditocracy on television, the Mormon Church, and the entire-GOP establishment, not to mention MORE MONEY than GOD, and he can't BUY this election???

    Maybe "WE the People" would like to pick our candidate? Mmmm???

    February 10, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  21. Marry

    I would like to post a very positiv description of “CONSERVATISM”. But, I am sure, this above group would never think this way! pragmatist81 :
    What is "conservative"? Literally, the word means to "conserve" something, like, for example, preserving the environment, preserving a stable economic system, preserving a stable international political order, preserving reasonable social programs for the middle class and the disadvantaged. To be "conservative" could also mean to be prudent: policy options should be carefully analyzed before making a decision, reform should happen gradually at a pace the people can absorb, etc.

    It is clear that the person possessing these qualities is the current President Barack Obama. He is the adult who has maintained a steady hand, cautioned against lurches to either left or right, who has thoroughly deliberated his options before making his every decision. On the other hand, RADICALS in the Republican Party are the ones talking about gutting government, staging revolutions, defaulting on the national debt. The Republican Party is not "conservative" – it is RADICAL, it is out on the far-right, and it threatens all that is good about America.

    February 10, 2012 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  22. juanita valdez

    I am the tea party...I endorse Mitt Romney and know that he will make an excellent, conservative president!

    February 10, 2012 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  23. A Conservative Wolf in NYC

    ANY of the Republican candidates, including Huntsman, is to the right of Obama.

    ANY one of them will be an improvement.

    Fact is Newt is unelectable given his multiple infidelities.

    And Santorum is not vetted enough and would fall prey to some of the mistakes obama has in his limited knowledge of how to deal with the Houses of Congress.

    Romney, though not ideal on every stance, is a vast improvement to obama and is better suited to take obama on in the upcoming general election.

    Like many of you I wish we had another Reagan to deal with our current Carter. But that is not to be: Christie is wisely vetting himself and Paul Ryan is still relatively new on the scene.

    I eagerly await the time when both Messer’s. Christie and Ryan are ready to take the mantle and really turn us around. Until then, Governor Romney will at least stop the bleeding!

    February 10, 2012 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  24. Paul Kinslow

    We know the angst about Romney and his moderate tendencies, but some distortions of his past history that have led to some of that angst need to quickly be corrected should he become the nominee. At that point, all conservatives need to focus on all congressional races to ensure a sufficient number of conservatives are elected to influence Romney toward conservative principles. FYI, there is a historical precedent in U.S. and Mormon Church history that has apparently influenced some of Romney's behavior toward some issues. That being the fact that during the latter 1800's the Federal government confiscated all LDS church property and took away Mormon church member's right to vote. A separation of church and state was part of the agreement to regain voting rights and this has been emphasized by their current day Prophets. Romney has defended current secular law instead of challenging it for this reason, in my opinion.

    February 10, 2012 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  25. jodi

    Santorum is in experienced like Obama, and Santorum is a bore, our economy is not doing as well, phony numbers. Obama was never vetted like these guys, but Romney will win and be our next President

    February 10, 2012 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
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