Santorum wants assurances from Romney before giving full backing
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum wants assurances that Romney's GOP platform will represent conservative interests before he gives full backing to the presumptive presidential nominee.
According to AP
, sources close to Santorum say "he wants assurances from Romney that the party's platform would represent conservatives' interests, and that Romney would govern as a conservative."
reports Newt Gingrich also wants help in retiring his campaign and "repairing his reputation" in exchange for endorsing Romney.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is not expected to endorse Romney because of the deep ideological divisions between the candidates in economic and foreign policy issues.
Romney is scheduled to meet Santorum on Friday and Gingrich is expected to endorse Romney this week. Santorum quit the race on April 10 after a rather rancorous primary season in which Santorum described Romney as "the worst Republican in the country" and compared his alleged policy inconsistencies to a child playing on an Etch-A-Sketch toy.
reports that last week, Santorum changed his rhetoric ahead of the meeting when he said he now believes Romney is "the right guy" to challenge President Barack Obama, but he stopped short of an official endorsement. Santorm, in a remark to CNN's Piers Morgan about Romney, said: "It's very clear that he's going to be the Republican nominee and I'm going to be for the Republican nominee and we're going to do everything we can to defeat Barack Obama."
Gingrich made similar comments and indicated that he would officially end his campaign in the next few days: "It's clear Romney is the nominee and the focus should be on defeating Obama. We should not focus on defeating ourselves."
Endorsements from Santorum and Gingrich will help to heal the wounds of bitterly contested primary elections. Romney's campaign will also be anxious to bring conservative followers of both contestants into the fold. Questions that have been raised in the primaries about Romney's conservatism have accentuated skepticism among Santorum and Gingrich's staunch followers who make up the base of the Republican Party.
Core GOP conservatives accuse Romney of having changed his position on social issues such as abortion and gay rights that they feel very strongly about. He is also accused of having supported the 2008 Wall Street bailout that conservatives opposed. He is also often criticized for signing a health care overhaul as governor of Massachusetts many believe provided the groundwork for Obama's much criticized health care reform.
Santorum will be meeting with Romney on Friday to discuss the key issues of policy from the conservative perspective. According to AP
, Hogan Gidley, Santorum's adviser, said: "We want to make sure he doesn't replace it with any kind of mandate. Rick just wants to have a candid, open conversation about making sure the folks in the 11 states that voted for him, and the conservative movement, have a voice in the Romney campaign."
reports that the meeting will be strictly private with no photo opportunities. The venue of the meeting is not being disclosed and no press coverage will be allowed at the site. According to CNN, John Brabender, senior adviser to Santorum's campaign, said, "It is an important meeting. Both are looking forward to the meeting and…defeating Barack Obama."
Santorum has said there is one issue he would not be discussing at the meeting, and that is Romney helping to retire his campaign debt. The campaign has about $1 million debt but Brabender says, "The Senator does not want that on the agenda...[it is] not appropriate to that meeting."
reports Santorum has appealed to his supporters to help settle the campaign's accounts. An email he sent out to his supporters on Monday night, said: "While each day we move closer to balancing our books, this debt is weighing on us and we need to settle our accounts. We are relying on you, as we have throughout the campaign, because you have been such a loyal supporter."
Analysts say Santorum is not in a hurry to endorse Romney for political strategic reasons. They caution the public not to expect a public endorsement from Santorum immediately after the private meeting between the two men. AP
reports: "People close to Santorum said deep resentment remains between the men. But he also recognizes he risks looking like a sore loser and is expected to eventually support Romney... For Santorum, there are political considerations if he is to keep the door open to a future presidential run. He has tremendous sway among conservatives, and is mindful of his personal political brand. Embracing a candidate whom some conservatives don't trust could backfire in the long run because many of Santorum's supporters voted for him in hopes of preventing Romney from winning."
reports that while Santorum considers his steps with caution, some key members of his campaign have joined Romney's campaign in recent weeks. Mike Biundo, Santorum's former campaign manager joined the Romney campaign in Boston and Foster Friess, who played a key role in Santorum's super PAC has also agreed to join Romney's campaign.
reports that Santorum, however, emphasized to his supporters his commitment to conservative ideals. He said in an email to his supporters:"Let me also be clear because I've read some reports to the contrary: we aren't backing down from the fight for our conservative ideals. Very shortly I'll come off the sidelines and get back into the fight, because in order to defeat Barack Obama and restore our conservative principles to government we must work together or we will never succeed."