The Corner

Santorum’s Meeting with Romney ‘About More than an Endorsement’

On Friday, May 4, Rick Santorum will huddle with Mitt Romney. According to Santorum strategist John Brabender, the former rivals will discuss a variety of topics, including how Santorum could potentially work with Romney during the general-election campaign.

“It’s about more than moving toward an endorsement,” Brabender says. “It’s also about helping Rick and Governor Romney to get to know each other on a personal level. They’ve only talked in passing at the debates; they’ve never really gotten to know each other. Rick wants to sit down with Romney, one on one, and talk through some things.

“From a political standpoint, Rick’s top priority is beating President Obama in the fall, so they’ll discuss how they can work together to accomplish that,” he continues. “Rick, as someone who garnered over 3 million votes and won eleven states, is someone who can share a lot with Romney about how to win over conservatives, tea-party voters, and blue-collar Republicans. He is going to want to know, first hand, how Romney expects to make that part of the party not only part of his campaign, but part of his administration, should he win the election.”

Beyond that, Brabender says, “Rick doesn’t have any expectations going into this meeting. We’ve only taken one thing off of the table: talking about our campaign debt. Rick doesn’t want that to be a part of the discussion, in any way. For us, it’s an extremely manageable debt, and an endorsement, should it come, will be about policy and principles, not about a deal between the campaigns on the debt.”

#more#Santorum will “not be walking in there with a list of 20 demands,” Brabender says, but as the former senator’s chief adviser, he isn’t averse to spelling out how his candidate could be an asset on the trail.

“I highly doubt that a convention speaking slot will be discussed on Friday,” he says. “But from a consultant perspective, it’s clear that Rick fired up the base in state after state. He kept winning, even after he was ignored by the party hierarchy. It would be a logical benefit for the Romney people to have Rick play a major role at the convention.”

And as for Romney’s number-two spot, Brabender says, he isn’t expecting that to come up on Friday, either. But, as with a plum speaking role in Tampa, he wouldn’t mind if Santorum was a key part of the vice-presidential discussion. “The senator certainly hopes that the governor will select someone who adheres to conservative principles,” he says. “I don’t think [Santorum] has personally ruled anything out. The decision remains in the hands of the Romney strategists. They’re smart people. I’m sure they are going to be looking for someone who enhances their chances in the fall, and that will probably be someone who is a conservative Republican leader.”

In the meantime, Brabender adds, he has an active working relationship with Romney’s team. They are happy to assist Romney’s campaign as it looks to hire new staffers. Romney, for instance, recently hired Mike Biundo, Santorum’s campaign manager. “We’ll be sending a few others over,” Brabender says. “In the end, it’s about winning in November.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

ABC Chief Political Analyst: GOP Rep. Stefanik a ‘Perfect Example’ of the Failures of Electing Someone ‘Because They Are a Woman’

Matthew Dowd, chief political analyst for ABC News, suggested that Representative Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) was elected due to her gender after taking issue with Stefanik's line of questioning during the first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday. “Elise Stefanik is a perfect example of why just electing ... Read More
White House

Trump vs. the ‘Policy Community’

When it comes to Russia, I am with what Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman calls the American “policy community.” Vindman, of course, is one of the House Democrats’ star impeachment witnesses. His haughtiness in proclaiming the policy community and his membership in it grates, throughout his 340-page ... Read More
Law & the Courts

DACA’s Day in Court

When President Obama unilaterally changed immigration policy after repeatedly and correctly insisting that he lacked the constitutional power to do it, he said that congressional inaction had forced his hand. In the case of his first major unilateral move — “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” which ... Read More
White House

Impeachment and the Broken Truce

The contradiction at the center of American politics in Anno Domini 2019 is this: The ruling class does not rule. The impeachment dog-and-pony show in Washington this week is not about how Donald Trump has comported himself as president (grotesquely) any more than early convulsions were about refreshed ... Read More