Where are the unity events?
June 11th, 2012
05:14 PM ET
9 years ago

Where are the unity events?

Washington (CNN) - A week after Mitt Romney pulled out of the Republican presidential race in February 2008, he stood next to John McCain, with the national press corps capturing the moment, and said: "I'm officially endorsing his candidacy."

In April 2008, about seven weeks after Mike Huckabee ended his run for the Republican presidential nomination, he and McCain campaigned together. Huckabee was quoted as saying: "The main thing is getting Senator McCain elected."

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When Hillary Clinton brought her run for the Democratic nomination to a close in June of 2008, she immediately endorsed Barack Obama with cable news networks carrying the event live as she told the crowd of supporters, "I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me." Three weeks later, the two former opponents traveled together on the same plane to campaign together in aptly-named Unity, New Hampshire.

Fast forward to 2012. There hasn't been that kind of public embrace between Romney and his major competitors.

Rick Santorum and Romney held a private meeting just over three weeks after the former Pennsylvania senator suspended his campaign - no cameras were there, no image of the meeting was seen. Santorum issued a late night e-mail announcement of his endorsement of Romney three days later.

"We both agree that President Obama must be defeated. The task will not be easy. It will require all hands on deck if our nominee is to be victorious. Governor Romney will be that nominee and he has my endorsement and support to win this the most critical election of our lifetime," Santorum wrote.

Asked on Sunday if he has plans to appear soon with Romney, Santorum said: "We've certainly been in conversation with the Romney campaign and have offered to be available where they think I can be helpful."

Aides to Santorum, however, told CNN a joint Romney-Santorum public event is so far not in the works. The Romney campaign has given Santorum's staff a list of more than a dozen cities where they believe the former Pennsylvania senator could boost the effort by stumping on behalf of the presumptive Republican nominee, according to John Brabender, former Santorum senior strategist. Santorum and his staff have indicated to Romney's camp they will do what they can to help the ticket and are working through his schedule to firm up dates and locations.

Brabender also pointed out Santorum's new political committee, Patriot Voices, can help boost Romney by motivating conservatives.

"There is universal support for realizing we have to engage everyone to make sure Obama is defeated in November," Brabender said.

The campaign calendar is one reason there has not been a rush of one-time foes embracing each other in public events this year versus 2008.

"The primary season was a heck [of a lot] longer," Brabender said as compared to the relative brevity of last time. The lengthened campaign also brought a longer period of candidates attacking each other.

Brabender dismissed the importance of the two foes, who exchanged harsh words towards the end of the primary season, not embracing each other publicly.

"People are going to read into everything," he said. "People are finding things and wondering. Often times they mean nothing."

Because they have held a meeting and Santorum has given his endorsement, "there is already the assumption the party is unified," Brabender said. "I'm not sure if there needs to be something symbolic."

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When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ended his bid on May 2, he did not use the word endorse when talking about Romney but said: "I am asked sometimes is Mitt Romney conservative enough? And my answer is simple – compared to Barack Obama? This is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical leftist president in American history."

He later told CNN's "State of the Union": "I believe that Mitt Romney will be a dramatically better president for the United States than Barack Obama. I believe that he has earned the right to represent the Republican Party, and he's earned it the hard way. He has fought his way to the nomination. Nobody gave him an inch."

Gingrich stumped for Romney two weeks later at the Georgia Republican convention. Monday night, for the second time in two weeks, he appeared alongside Romney at a private fund-raiser. Still, the two men have not held a public event together since Gingrich pulled out.

"Newt is going to help the Romney campaign defeat President Obama in any way he can," Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told CNN. Hammond pointed out right now the focus of the campaigns is raising money and that is how Gingrich can probably be most helpful to Romney.

There was a more traditional embrace of one-time foes when former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty endorsed Romney on Sept 12 of last year - a month after he pulled out. Pawlenty was appointed a national co-chair of Romney's campaign, and the two campaigned together that day in South Carolina.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry left the race back in February, endorsing Gingrich. Following Gingrich's own exit, Perry endorsed Romney but there has not yet been a public show of affection between the two.

- CNN's Wade Payson-Denney contributed to this story.

Also see:

Axelrod weighs in on Obama's private sector comments

Romney video goes after Obama's comments on economy

Daniels, Walker want Romney to go bold

McCain: Obama responsible for leaks, Holder has no credibility

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Rick Santorum
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Joseph Smith

    Romney cannot be trusted. He is a liar and no one wants to be part of that and get back-stabbed.

    June 11, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  2. BeverlyNC

    There is no unity or policy agreement or platform agreement within the Republican Party. They are divided into warring factions and ALL believe in plans that will destroy jobs, our economy, the People, and hand everything over to corrupt corporations and billionaires. Republicans have lost their way, have no solutions, no desire to accomplish anything in Congress, have lost their soul and all humanity. They need to be all removed from office while they figure out who they are and end their extremism and destruction of the rights of women, workers, non-whites, and even voters. We need our real leader, President Obama, with a proven success record, hard work for ALL Americans, and a whole list of solutions for jobs and economic recovery Republicans just obstruct and betray the People by refusing to do anything.

    June 11, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  3. Maltheus

    There's little point in a unity event when it will just be dominated by Ron Paul supporters.

    June 11, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  4. California Gary

    To have unity events, one must first have unity........ain't gonna happen after the way Mitt steamrolled these guys and trashed them.

    June 11, 2012 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  5. Jonquil

    It's a pretty clear message: Romney sees and association with either Santorum or Gingrich, to be politically detrimental. He prefers the idea that he "won" against the other nominees because he is unlike them. The GOP would rather Americans forget that Santorum ever happened.

    Too late! We remember...

    June 11, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. LonestarJR

    July 1st will be the GOP Unity Day, when all the prominent Republicans gather for David Duke's birthday. Well, I exaggerate, because Rudy Giuliani won't be there. Rudy and David Duke are never photographed together, because they are the same person.

    This election is less likely to be decided by the swing states than by events neither candidate can control–the fate of the Eurozone comes to mind. I believe Obama should promise Angela Merkle that, if she will keep the thing from imploding, he will make sure she never has to be in the same room with her molester, George W. Bush, again. Then, he would have to take the unpleasant step of making the 43rd President the guest of the taxpayers down in Guantanmo for a while.

    June 11, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  7. Gurgyl

    No one in the right mind ever back or support this BAIN CAPITAL idiot. Watch him on YouTube when mitt Romney came to town.. Enjoy...

    June 11, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  8. Getu

    What ever can happen between now and November. But no GOP will get my first vote

    June 11, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  9. u

    Unity events?

    You're kidding, right?

    There are factions with the GOP that hate each other.

    You'd have better luck mixing oil and water.


    June 11, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. KM

    With a sagging economy and jobless numbers to match, Democrats might want to start thinking about unique strategies to prop up 'ol "hope and change" instead of concerning themselves with whether the former GOP candidates don't hug and kiss in public. The former candidates are all high functioning people with some sense of an ego and swallowing the bitter pill of not getting the nomination has not been easy for them. The GOP will be fine in this election. The big question is, where will moderates stand come election time. I suspect their stance will be leaning to the right.

    June 11, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  11. Elijah

    No public events together... It's never a good thing to see clowns perform together

    June 11, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  12. dreamer96

    Mitt Romney still only gets 14% to 25% of all registered GOP voters...These GOP guys all dislike each other too much...

    June 11, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. Grow up already...

    Maybe they should kick off their untiy rally in Burlington, WI- Home of the Burlington Liars Club. They all could pretend they're friends are are doing things for the good of the country. They would probably win the event for the biggest lie of the year.

    June 11, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  14. retrostar1000

    Where is the unity? Ask Citizen's United and other GOP superpacs.

    June 11, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  15. 1twinsfan

    I actually saw a car elevator yesterday! I encourage everyone to get one. Car elevator installers coud use the work.

    June 11, 2012 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  16. PTBarnumboy

    They're out behind the barn. Just look for the crowd wearing the white, hooded suits.

    June 11, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  17. Smartcitizen

    We all know obama frist day at da white house all we heard from da gobp was they want him to be a one tirm president thats y every state govern by rub.umeneploment rate is up n so da tea bags congross

    June 11, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
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