Santorum meets with conservatives in hopes to save campaign

Looking for away to bring conservatives together even as Republicans being to coalesce around Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum met with movement leaders in hopes to come up with a last ditch effort to make a comeback and take the GOP nomination:

The conversation focused on the struggling candidacy of former House speaker Newt Gingrich and whether a final push could be made to unite conservatives and stop the likely nomination of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. The idea of Santorum leaving the race was not raised.

“It was a discussion of how to win, not a discussion of anything other than that,” said Gary Bauer, a prominent social conservative leader who was at the meeting.

Despite this optimism, there are signs that the wear and tear of the campaign trail and the daunting odds against his winning the nomination are weighing on Santorum.

“He is exhausted,” said one influential Republican who has talked to Santorum in recent days. “He is very, very worried about losing Pennsylvania. He is trying to find a way to throw a very long pass that could change the game.”

That search for game-changers seems unlikely to produce success for Santorum. A Gingrich decision to exit the race and endorse Santorum in an attempt to unite conservatives seems unlikely to happen or to affect the outcome of the nomination fight.

This seems to be a wish rather than reality. Gingrich told Fox News Sunday that, while Romney is “most likely” going to be the nominee (an understandment at this point), he has no plans to exit the race before the convention in August. Gingrich apparently wants to have some influence on the party’s platform and serve as some sort of “check” on Romney. Gingrich also said that he would back Romney and campaign for him in the fall.

For his part, Ron Paul, who doesn’t operate a traditional campaign, has given no indication that he’ll get out of the race. In fact, Paul recently said that he hasn’t decided if he’ll support the eventual Republican nominee. That’s not surprising, though I would expect him to stay silent rather than endorse a third party candidate, which could hurt his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Santorum’s decision to keep trucking along, which could hurt his chances in 2016 should he decide to run for the nomination again. This decision to double-down on the race also comes as polls in his home state of Pennsylvania show a tight race with Romney. If Santorum loses Pennsylvania, no matter the margin, the calls for him to drop out of the race will be hard to ignore.


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