CP Politics

Thursday, Sep 18, 2014

With Santorum Out, Will Romney Reach Out to Social Conservatives?

  • (Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
    Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney hands the microphone to an audience member for a question during a campaign stop in Warwick, Rhode Island April 11, 2012.
April 12, 2012|11:28 am

The path to the Republican nomination is clear and well lit for Mitt Romney now that Rick Santorum announced he was suspending his campaign on Tuesday. Social conservatives are now waiting to see if the Romney campaign will take their support for granted or reach out to them.

Both Democrat and Republican pundits and political analysts see the 2012 presidential race as being one of the closest in the modern political era – maybe even closer in popular vote than the Bush-Gore contest of 2000.

Mike Bayham is a political consultant in Louisiana and until Tuesday, was one of Santorum's volunteer state coordinators. "I think Romney will make a token gesture [toward social conservatives] and then negate by doing or saying something that undermines his olive branch," Bayham said in an email to CP. "This is a man who believes social conservatives are the main problem in the GOP."

However, other more mainstream Republicans such as former Bush aide Karl Rove see the issue differently.

In an appearance Tuesday on Fox News' "The Five," Rove said he recently spoke at a Republican dinner in southern Ohio and described social conservatives as fired up and ready to take on President Obama.

"I can guarantee you the base, the conservative base is fired up and ready to go. There is no doubt about it," said Rove. "The most important issue in their minds is defeating Obama regardless of who the GOP nominee is."

But what seems unclear is how much time Romney is willing to invest with social conservatives. It is no secret that when evangelical leaders have gathered to discuss whom to support for the GOP nomination, Romney never received the attention that Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachman (Minn.) or Santorum got.

One man in particular who has seen this issue play out many times in his more than 40-year career is direct mail guru Richard Viguerie. Earlier this year he held meetings with social conservatives for both former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Santorum, whom he later endorsed.

Viguerie has also been a vocal critic of what he sees as Romney's lackadaisical response to social conservatives.

"To date, Mitt Romney has spent about $100 million to drive the conservative candidates from the field, in some cases through vicious personal attacks," Viguerie wrote in an email on Tuesday. "However, he has spent little effort making the case for his own candidacy to grassroots movement conservatives."

"The first great challenge facing Republicans is whether or not Mitt Romney can heal the wounds created by his negative campaigning."

Another leading female conservative leader, who asked to remain anonymous, said that in the many years she has been involved in social and conservative causes, the Romney campaign has never reached out to her or her organization.

"I've never heard a peep from them," she told The Christian Post. "Not a single phone call or even an email. I think now is the perfect time for Gov. Romney to start making a few phone calls."

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/with-santorum-out-will-romney-reach-out-to-social-conservatives-73099/