tv News Nation MSNBC April 10, 2012 2:00pm-3:00pm EDT
he is there in pennsylvania. what are you hearing? >> reporter: hey there, tamron. we're hearing that rick santorum is running a bit behind. maybe ten or 15 minutes from now we expect him in the room. the first word we got that something was afoot was late last night when the campaign sent out notice that they were canceling a couple of events today, this morning, about two hours away from here, west of here. and they were adding an event as they described it here in gettysburg. when we walked into the room this morning, we could tell this was not going to be a traditional rally. this room is far too intimate for that kind of thing. the campaign later clarified this would be a press conference and of course, that set the press corps abuzz about what the topic would be. we did ask one campaign official in fact what senator santorum would speak about. that was met with just a shrug. so of course, all day people have been talking about him suspending his campaign here. over the past couple weeks and especially since his [ laughter ] tuesday in wisconsin, a lot of folks are saying this was the time for him to drop out. that he would not want to wage a
battle here against mitt romney. when voters go to the polls only to lose. at love folks will remember his resounding defeat for his senate re-election bid that he lost to bob casey by 17 points. a lot of folks are saying that rick santorum would lose all that he has risked on this campaign that has been run on a shoe string. he would risk losing all of that and his standing within the national party by continuing to stay in this race. so that is the word right now. we don't know specifically what he will talk about. >> now let me bring in mark murray. thank you for joining us. you have a new poll out. "washington post"/abc news. 52% said stay in. 43% said drop out. we know the stakes are high for pennsylvania. we also know that he has a little daughter who is ill. who has been hospitalized. she is now back home with the family in virginia. is this the right time for him to drop out given the personal challenges which are absolutely heartfelt and we know of great concern to him and his wife.
and the reality of, he could take a shellacking in pennsylvania. >> it is important to take all these things into context. you're absolutely right about the health of his daughter. this was the second time the campaign season that she was hospitalized. and of course, her health became a story during the whole easter passover holiday weekend. and coincided with his time off the campaign trail. as ron mentioned, it also came after his defeat in wisconsin. bitterly fought contest which after the delegate count came about, it was going to show that rick santorum needed to win some 70% of all the remaining delegates. which was a really tough order for him. then the reality in pennsylvania. there was a quinnipiac poll taken right before the wisconsin contest showing rick santorum actually leading just by 6 percentage points in his home state and the robo polls that were taken after that that showed him possibly even losing to mitt romney.
so having, losing to mitt romney in your home state would have actually marred all the things that he's accomplished. the 11 contests that he's won so far and the fact that he is actually, the person out of everyone else who is running for president who emerged as mitt romney's chief rival. >> to your point, you name a laund relist of things that rick santorum could tout his accomplishment. the snl jokes had him in the basement when they parodied the debate that he was so far out, of the cost petition, that he was that even on stage. i'm just getting the news. mark, nbc news has confirmed that rick santorum is suspending his campaign. so there's the news that many were expecting today. that he is now suspending his campaign and many would say, mark, perfect timing here for him. >> the handwriting had been on the wall for a long time. as we were mentioning, showing
the polls with a close race in pennsylvania, with the possibility that he could lose his home state. him bowing out right now, at least suspending his campaign. he is ending on a very high note. out of everyone else, the person who was the chief rival to mitt romney, and i have if i want to, the possibility to still run for president in 2016 or 2020. >> let's talk about the remarkable nature of what you just said. he in a sense was the last man standing between mitt romney and the nomination. the point i was attempting to make before we got the breaking news is that rick santorum was not a candidate that people took seriously. we even know the man's name was mocked on the internet. he was infamous for the compare sob he made between homosexuality and bestiality. this guy was not seen as a contender. but it was the most conservative of that party who really held him, if you will, through this process and made him a chief
rival because they were unwilling to support mitt romney. >> what was extraordinary was, as you remember when this republican campaign season started in the spring of 2011, we saw one republican after another soar in the polls, only to crash back down to earth. we saw it with michele bachmann. what was very interesting, rick santorum was the one who ended up being able to pull out a very narrow victory in iowa in that first contest. and of course, he wasn't able to use that iowa victory as a spring board later on. where he found some good strategy was he concentrated in a lot of the early february contests that mitt romney wasn't paying attention. to i'm talking about the caucuses in colorado, in minnesota, as well as a beauty contest in missouri. he won all three. all of a sudden he emerged as the chief conservative alternative to mitt romney. and was able to do that with those three contests. and again, what was very
interesting as we battled through all these primaries, going into states like michigan, ohio, wisconsin, the most important thing was always at the number of evangelicals in these states. where rick santorum was able to do well is where these states that had a large number of evangelicals oftentimes more than 50% or more of the republican electorate. he ended up losing is where you didn't have that very big evangelical base. so that was the dynamic that we saw back and forth over a two or two and a half month period. >> let me bring in chuck todd. timing is everything. we know that. you have rick santorum dealing with a very personal family issue with his daughter. we also know politically, there was a lot at stake. you had mitt romney pull this ad in pennsylvania but basically the ad said, pennsylvania didn't want santorum as the senator for that state and they wouldn't want him as president them pulled that ad because of the child's illness. the reality is he was facing a scary situation.
dawning political situation ahead in pennsylvania. >> it was. let's just remember here, these guys, running for president is personally draining, emotionally draining. so here is his entire family. his kids have taken, the ones that are of college age have taken the semester off to campaign with him and they have this sort of constant family health crisis at home with their youngest child. so throw all of that stress that you're carrying. the stress of your own political career and this obviously means something to him. he would like to have a, become a national statesman of sorts. i think he is in many cases, won enough primaries to earn that. you throw the whole thing together. you said timing is everything. how much did the time at home over the easter holiday, having to face this challenge with bella, sort of impact him in a way that said, you know, having to deal with a negative campaign that could have gotten rough, could have gotten ugly, and sort
of really embarrassing. that's not the way he wanted to go out. he does get to go out on a higher note this way. and that's something that, he could end up still winning a primary or two in may as a quote, suspended campaign. >> absolutely. and i've got this in. mitt romney has said he has spoken with santorum. they've talked. romney wants him to endorse him. this is what david gregory has put in. this is some of the information we have. the reality is what kind of player in this game will rick santorum be? as i pointed out, you know this as well. he even complained about fox news of all places, not really giving him the attention. he took on bill o'reilly. felt that he was this ignored candidate even from the gop. what you and i have seen in this exit polling information is that he is still a powerful voice with the most conservative in that party. even after his comments on jfk. even after the contraception issues. he still has some heavyweight
clout with those who aren't ready to embrace mitt romney. those evangelical christian conservatives. >> i don't know if i agree with that. i don't know if he has the clout. what he simply an anti-romney vehicle? and i think that is always going to be the question. santorum's campaign will be judged through. he was the guy who was the truest blue social conservative that was running. i tell you, i remember having rick santorum laid this campaign out for me back in 2010. right after the 2010 -- right before the 2010 election. they laid out how this would work and how they would be the last guy standing. you sort of chuckled to yourself. yeah, right, how are you going to be the last guy standing? they did see this path. once place he did have a connection. his connection was social conservatives. in the social conservative movement, the pro-life movement is a very powerful movement and it has always been very supportive of santorum. he was able to tap into it, in a
way more creditably than any of the other conservatives could do. when you look back on santorum's campaign, you're going to say where trurm came up short. he couldn't merge the two. we always had said, it is the evangelical community plus tea party. there was some overlap but not complete. you had to have them both. and he could never fully grab teem fully in his column. partially because he was a washington guy. i think that was tough. >> obviously, with the tea party portion of this equation, many have felt their influence would be congressional state races. we've not seen that influence in the primary. with rick santorum and this conversation about his clout, we've watched these speeches from rick santorum where he talks about his grandfather. talks about that background. when you look at the latest polling regarding mitt romney, it is the very connection that rick santorum was able to make on this genuine likable level with those who might be willing
to vote that is still greatly lacking with mitt romney at a time where we are about to start discussing what is tax fairness or what the republicans call, if you will, this war on the el wealthy or class warfare. >> i think we will look back on this and say, was it santorum's ability to connect or was it romney's inability to connect? and i think how much of santorum's success has really been about romney's shortcomings? and i think this is not, i just don't see the parallel, for instance, between santorum now and reagan '76. i think he homes that parallel exists for his own political future. >> all right, chuck. thank you. let me bring in andrea mitchell. this is all peculiar timing for you. you have a big guest scheduled tomorrow with the santorum campaign. you ended your show by saying, i don't know if he will show up. here we have the information
that the campaign is suspended. >> it will be a good opportunity. we hope he shows up because it will be a good opportunity to see what happened. there are a lot of questions to be answered. is he going to endorse mitt romney? you know there have been very, very contentious things said. will he withhole his delegates and still win a couple of primaries? i think if you look at the wisconsin results, he was losing his grip on the white evangelical voters. in fact many were voting for mitt romney. he won more than any primary in massachusetts and new hampshire. so he was beginning to make inroads with what we would have thought was trul's base. the aura of a winner was attaching to mitt romney. he was endorsed by the former governor of eiowa. we know the two have talked. we don't know what santorum has said about his delegates and what role he wants to play.
newt gingrich has been about whatever role he might have at the convention on the platform issues and santorum could try to wield a heavy hand with that. certainly get the enthusiasm for those in the south, especially, white evangelicals who have not been gung-ho about mitt romney. we also know those same people would not vote for president obama. it is not a matter of those folks in mississippi, alabama, changing their vote to become a democrat. but it is about enthusiasm and if they can get out and have these big rallies, as we have seen at different points with rick santorum where people were really fired up and inspired, i guess, by his message. >> we saw the best speech he gave was after iowa. and that was the surprise near win at the time. it turned out to be a victory.
if he had stuck to those economic issues. as chuck was suggesting he can never quite merged the social conservative side of rick santorum with the tea party supporters. because he was a former washingtonian. he said he was a nonlobbyist but that's really a term of art. he had done a lot of representation and a lot of advocacy on behalf of different interest groups and had made a lot of money. he was in a world of trouble regarding the pennsylvania primary itself. many are saying he should have gotten out when it was clear over the one except perhaps rick santorum that romney would be the nominee. >> to your point that it has been the conversation from the republican leadership even that at this point, let's get this together. let's get behind mitt romney. the damage that is being caused now could be certainly detrimental in the general election. i can talk even specifically,
rick santorum taking on mitt romney regarding health care and basically saying that there is no difference between what mitt romney, passed and signed as governor of massachusetts, and what right now is before the supreme court of this country. and he made for those conservatives out there, i think, a very easy argument as to why they should not get behind mitt romney. especially those, andrea, who are hell-bent on repealing what they refer to agency obamacare. >> how many times, a good point you make. how many times have we heard rick santorum on the stump saying that the whole health care issue would be denied to the republican party with mitt romney as the nominee because he could not make the argument effectively against the president's health care plan. he's going to have to take back a whole lot and that makes the very awkward to see what kind of announcement he will make. maybe he will talk about family
problems and the stress on the family and about the money. clearly that's what newt gingrich has been saying to explain his defeat. not to his own failures but suggesting that the romney campaign' hughes financial advantage is what drove him out of race. let me bring back mark murray. andrea hitting on a ton of excellent points, obviously. how much of this will be about the family life. how much the money needed to stay in the race but also what role rick santorum will play moving ahead. it has been an incredible couple of days. we saw basically newt gingrich, if you will, say it is likely that mitt romney is the nominee and he will get behind mitt romney after this started out with those two basically at each other's throats. and it migrated between personal attacks between rick santorum and mitt romney. how does romney turn santorum into an effective surrogate or someone that he can use? >> it important to note that you have to mark down on your calendars, april 10th is where the general election started.
there really isn't any more attention on the republican primary season. and when mitt romney is looking, what he needs to do to shore up his situation, it is one with the middle. also with female voters. he also has to make sure his right flank is protected. and rick santorum, if he is someone who emerges as a surrogate, could do a very good job for mitt romney, assuring evangelical christians, other people who weren't all that big enthusiasts of mitt romney's presidential bid, that mitt romney is one of us. he can be a very good president. i'm very interested to see how rick santorum, how he talks about mitt romney. we've seen a lot of republicans these last couple weeks come on board. starting to fall in line with mitt romney but they haven't been the greatest endorsements in the world. we've seen it from paul ryan, the house budget chairman. we've seen it from other republicans. they kind of have one arm around mitt romney's back but it hasn't been a full embrace.
if he gives a full throated endorsement, it will be interesting to see. >> there's a lot of tame. a lot of video. all you need is one ad showing rick santorum holding that etch a sketch after mitt romney's advisers said they are going to clean the slate and start all over again in the general election. implying that the game can change them weren't talking about little nuance issues when this was brought up. so you have this image of rick santorum coming out gleefully holding an etch a sketch representing mitt romney on policies. >> it is important to note that time can heal a lot of wounds. remember, hillary clinton and barack obama said a lot of tough stuff about each other. they came aboard and they were able to unite in that election. ditto, joe biden had some tough words for then candidate obama. so you can have some unification. it sometimes does take a while if people do have bruised feelings.
it takes a month or two for everyone else to fall in line. but i really am interested to see how the right reacts to a mitt romney candidacy. he almost has to fight a two front war in the next few months, trying to win back a lot of the centrists, key swing voters, as well as make sure that the right doesn't abandon him. what i've been hearing from republicans, don't worry, we'll all be united to try to defeat president obama in november. but it remains to be seen whether mitt romney is really going to be that inspirational person that will have conservatives knocking on people's doors. making phone calls. >> i know that rick santorum, we're expecting him to walk out any minute. i have this, we'll still participate in the american heartland conversation on faith, family and american values with james dobson in lancaster, pennsylvania. he is participating in that tonight. obviously with the cuffs off, you might say. and not having to really go in the direction that some of the conservatives have wanted him to
talk regarding the economy and jobs. he can let loose in this conference tonight on these issues that are obviously dear to his heart. these social conservative issues. >> well, right. you mentioned he'll be appearing with dr. james dobson. that says a lot about where rick santorum's support came from. and how he can remain a player in this presidential contest as well as if you're looking ahead to 2016, 2020. if rick santorum wants to run for governor of pennsylvania, wants a senate seat in the future, he is relatively young in politics and it will be with those evangelical christians that will probably provide any kind of base that he has in future politics as well as being a surrogate, programs, for mitt romney in the general election. >> let's talk about what happens behind the scenes. we were hearing rumblings in the last several hours, as mentioned, one of his staffers still planned to come on with andrea mitchell tomorrow. is this decision likely? santorum and the family when they were home with bella as she
got out of the hospital? or is this a group effort when you look at the personal issue that is hovering over his family? >> it appears there was a lot of reflection over the long easter holiday. after he ended up losing in wisconsin, that was a very closely fought battle. there was the perception. the handwriting is on the wall. mitt romney will be the republican nominee in both perception and according to the delegate math. but what was very interesting, rick santorum had a very fiery concession speech that night after his wisconsin loss. and then when he started hitting the campaign trail in pennsylvania, some really tough words for mitt romney. his campaign gave no indication right before the long weekend that he was probably going to be getting out. and honestly, there was some chatter that maybe this would be the press conference. maybe he would do it here. i have to say up until a few hours ago, it seemed like they were fully committed in this
contest. so something had to have happened after a moment of reflection the last couple days for him to re-evaluate where they are coming from. certainly the health of his daughter has to be chief on that list. >> and we know that in this latest poll, i believe this is rick santorum. let me go to this live event. it looks like his family is coming out right now. we'll talk to you on the other side. let's listen to no. >> to former senator rick santorum. >> thank you. thank you very much. it's always an honor to be here in this beautiful town of gettysburg. such an historic town. first and foremost, i want to thank everybody for the outpouring of prayers over the past weekend. we had a difficult weekend. good friday was a little bit of a passion for us with a passion play for us with our daughter bella who is -- we ended up in
the hospital all weekend. i'm here to report to start out things that she is a fighter and she is doing exceptionally well, and is back with us in the family. and we're forward to spending a lot of great time with her. but it didn't cause us to think. and as the role that we have as parents in her life and with the rest of our family, and this was a time of prayer and thought over this past weekend. and just like it was, frankly, when we decided to get into this race. karen and i and the kids sat at the kitchen table and talked about our hopes and fears and our concerns, and we were very concerned about our role as being the best parents we possibly could to our children. and sure that they had a country that was, well, the american dream was still possible. and i think a lot of concerns
that we had. that karen and i had in particular for our family was that with what was going on in washington, d.c., all of the problems that you've heard me talk about on the campaign trail. that american dream was slipping not just from the hands of average americans, but for all americans. that that dream was slipping away. and that we had to as good parents, to go out and do what we could to take on that responsibility for our children and for children across this country. and so we started out almost a year ago now in somerset, pennsylvania. i told my story. our story. of our family. my grandfather who came to this country and worked in the coal mines and my father who served our country in world war ii. and as you head throughout the course of this campaign, talked about my stories and the stories of our families.
but after a while, it became less about my stories and more about what kept us going were your stories. stories of people across america that we had the privilege of getting a chance to know and to interact with. when you travel around, one such story was a guy named chuck who had a pickup truck. and joined our team. and drove us around in his dodge ram pickup truck for months on end. and did so as a volunteer to, because he believed. he believed that we provided the best opportunity to turn this country around. i met a lot of folks in iowa that i'll never forget. folks like sam clovis who is a talk show host. i'll never forget this fighter pilot, a man of very strong convictions, manning up and tearing up about what was going on with our country and particularly with our national
security. laying out not a three-legged stool of ronald reagan but a four-legged stool with the constitution being one of those vitally important legs we had forgotten about. people like wendy jensen who was our best volunteer. 5,000 phone calls. and just a few days before the primary, because she was someone who was dealing with a disability, dealing with an illness, she passed away shortly before the caucus. but was someone that i remembered her passion for the least of us. those who are on the margins of society, as many would have looked at her. folks, even today, because of our daughter bella who come to, came to our rallies one after another in wheel chairs, bringing their special needs children and holding signs up of children saying, i'm for bella's
dad. just a beautiful idea of again, not my story but their stories was what really fueled our campaign and gave us the energy at a time when over and over again, we were told, forget it. you can't win. we were winning. we were winning in a very different way because we were touching hearts. we were raising issues that, well, frankly, a lot of people didn't want to have raised. our best phone caller after iowa was a young man who came to our first event in oklahoma in a wheelchair named nathaniel who had spina bifida. and he wanted someone who spoke about people again that had overlooked by society or don't seem to be as valuable as others in society. folks like the duggers, the dugger family who traveled around with us in their bus and gave their time and energy
because again, they believed in the basic importance of having strong families as part of a strong country. that we can't have a strong economy, as you've heard me say over and over again without strong families and a strong moral fiber that makes us the moral enterprise that is america. even fun things like the sweater vest. an amazing thing, that sweater vest. it happened on a night i was doing an event for mike huckabee and everybody was in suits and ties and i was in a sweater vest. it turned out i gave a pretty good speech and it turned up in twitter verse saying it must be the sweater vest. from that point on the sweater vest became the official wardrobe of the santorum campaign. the cool thing was, obviously we have a big part of our campaign is the manufacturing base of the
economy. and so we of course sourced that sweater vest in a company that was making them here in the united states, and we ended up going to that little company up in minnesota in the middle of winter it was. beautiful day. and we got a chance to see that little plant that had been around for almost 100 years. it turned out, we're the best customer that that woven mill has ever had in their entire history. so it has been a wonderful story after story of people who have come forward. two girls who put together a song in tulsa, oklahoma, called game on. who have traveled and followed us around. and over a million hits on youtube of that catchy little tune that they were inspired to give. and even today, we had folks working for us in texas to make it a winner take all primary because they want to make sure that we have the best
opportunity to, for texas and for conservatives to have a voice throughout the course of this primary. it has been inspiring to me. the story after stories that we've been engaged with. and it turns out that it wasn't really my voice that i was out communicating. it was your voice. the voice that you gave me from the stories and the experience i had. and that's what people that, how did this happen? how were we able to come from nowhere? i was smart enough to figure out that if i understood and felt at a very deep level what you were experiencing across america, and tried to be a witness to that. to try to be an, in a sense, an interpreter, that your voice could be heard and miracles could happen and so it did. miracle after miracle. this race was as improbable as any race that you will ever see for president. i want to thank god for that and i want to thank all of you. thank all of you across this country for what you have given,
well, hopefully not just me and our family, but what you've given, which is a voice to those who are in many cases, voiceless. we have tried to be a witness, not just for your stories and your voice but to provide a positive and hopeful vision. not a negative campaign. we traveled around and did 385 town hall meetings in iowa. we weren't out there trashing anybody. we web out in our campaigns and painted a hopeful, positive vision for our country. one that was based on how we can get this country turned around. not just economically. not just economically but reflecting the hopes of americans. not just the fears of americans. the hopes of americans. what we can do to confront the violent radical islam and particularly, the scourge of iran. what we can do to take on the problems of a sluggish economy and washington has grown so big. we put forth concrete solid
plans, many of which came from the people that i had an opportunity to interact with throughout the course and time of this campaign. we did focus a lot, yes, on the families and the dignity of human life and the moral enterprise that is america. and i know joe klein will be upset about this. one of my favorite articles was the one that he wrote where his headline was, rick santorum's inconvenient truths. and talked about things that maybe we should talk about a little bit more but somehow get shoved aside in the public discourse. we talked about how we would build a great country from the bottom up and we carried around our copy of the constitution. and of course, it was that constitution that got the tea party folks excited. legitimately so, about the operator's manual operator of america being discarded by those in washington. and i think what i tried to bring to the battle was what abraham lincoln brought to this battlefield back in 1863 in
november 19th. when he talk about this country being conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. he was quoting, of course, the declaration of independence, conceived in that declaration. and we talked about that declaration as the heart of american exceptionalism. as to who we are. we will never be a country that can go forward as a great and powerful country again unless we remember who we are. and what makes us americans. that's what our campaign was about. about what made us americans. how we built this country from the bottom up and how if we are going to be successful in the future, how we must believe in ourselves and believe in that ability to go forward and do the same thing. against all odds, we won 11 states. millions of voters. millions of votes. we won more counties than all the other people in this race combined. we were able to spread that message far and wide across this country and what we found is
that we found that support, i found a deeper love for this country. every state i went to and those of you who followed me around, i would say i really love this state. it was a love affair for me going from state to state and seeing the difference buzz seeing the wonderful, wonderful people of this country who care deeply about where this country is going in the future. we care deeply about those who are out there paddling along, who are feeling left behind. in some respects, feeling hopeless and want to do something. ladies and gentlemen, we made a decision to get into this race at our kitchen table and against all the odds. and we made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting. we are going to continue to
fight for those voices. we're going to continue to fight for the americans who stood up and gave us that air under our wings that allowed us to accomplish things that no political expert would have ever expected. there is a lot of greatness, a lot of greatness in this country. and we just need leaders who believe in that. who are willing to give voice to that. who are willing to raise us up instead of trying to provide for us and do for us what we can better do for ourselves. that's the message that came to me and it's one that i feel very, very good about continuing to talk to americans about. i walked out after the iowa caucus victory and that, game on. i know a lot of folks will write, maybe those even at the white house, game over. but this game is long, long, long way from over. we are going to continue to go out there and fight to make sure that we defeat president barack
obama. that we win the house back. and that we take the united states senate and we stand for the values that make us americans. that make us the greatest country in the history of the world, that shining city on the hill. to be a beacon for everybody for freedom around the world. thank you all very much. god bless you. >> there you have it. let me bring in moderator from "meet the press," david gregory. a lot to talk about on a personal level but you put that in romney called santorum. they have talked. no mention of mitt romney. only the desire to defeat president obama there. >> right. well, you heard from senator santorum, he is not prepared to endorse yet but that conversation has gone on, according to santorum aides that i've spoken to this afternoon. mitt romney and santorum, senator santorum have spoken on the phone. no great mystery here. if you're mitt romney, you want to get that endorsement and get
it on the schedule as quickly as possible and begin this general election campaign in earnest. and of course, this was the issue standing in his way. newt gingrich is still on the campaign but has faded. that conversation goes forward. you heard santorum say that he is suspending his campaign. he is not necessarily releasing all the delegates yet so he can hold on to that. he can still have a voice as he moves forward. and i think what you got from those remarks is a glimpse of just how effective he has been over the course of this campaign. he has given speeches like this in victory and defeat that are very effective. and that underscore the fact that he was unexpected. he was not expected to do as well as he did. i was looking at some of the numbers in december. our nbc news "wall street journal" poll indicated he was at 3% in our poll. dead last. several weeks later he goes on to win iowa, is officially crowned the winner of the iowa caucuses weeks later. and he wins a total of 11 contest. so this has been a very big
performance for him. >> he said it was an improbable race but he watched miracle after miracle. tonight he will be speaking at the american heartland conversation on faith, family and american values with james dobson. one thing he said that i thought was interesting was he wanted to focus on the indignities regarding social issues. that he embraced the headline, rick santorum's inconvenient truth. i recall when he was on "meet the press" with you, he blamed the media for bringing up social issues and contraception. he said these were not the things he wanted to talk about at the time. but in this speech just now, he reveled in the fact that he was bringing these issues to the forefront. >> look, in many ways, senator santorum for much of his career has been politically speaking, a cultural warrior. he talks about the sanctity of life. he talks about anti-abortion issues. the importance of the family. the encroachment of the culture. these are things that have defined his political identity and he didn't shy away from
them. he took issue with how the media characterized some of the controversy in this particular campaign. the issue over religious liberty to some and over the access to contraceptives, depending on your point of view. he did talk about the economy and had a very strong manufacturing-based economic message that he took through some of the early states in this primary process. but there is no question that he is not apologizing for putting the kind of focus on the family that he has in the course of his campaign. and there were up sides and down sides to that. the reality is his aides conceded this afternoon, he was up able to do the things here more recently that he needed to do. what were those things? win in wisconsin. and panning his own base of support. he had, you could see it in the polling, strong evangelical support among evangelical christians who identified themselves as very conservative. but mitt romney was still winning most of the conservative vote, as you went along in the process. so trul is not effectively
expanding his base. and there were those within his campaign who worried that he was talking about the social issues too much to the exclusion of a broader message. >> thank you very much. we have a member of the santorum campaign on the phone with us. thank you for your time. tell me a little about what was happening behind the scenes. rick santorum said that he got in this race with his family after a dinner table conversation and over the week, they decided to get out. what else can you tell us about his decision? >> thanks for your time. i appreciate you having me on. i think over the weekend, we had a conversation about it. we were talking about moving on to pennsylvania and really, as late as last night. i think they decided, they made the decision last night to suspend the campaign and called the staff. we had the conversation about how it was going. but from the nuts and bolts standpoint, there were several things that had to happen in order for us to secure that nomination. and some of the things were
becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that they happened. and one of those was, texas had to be winner take all. we needed newt to step aside a long time ago. >> what about the pressure of losing pennsylvania? >> two things out there that needed to that had a. >> what about the pressure of losing his home state, the possibility of losing his home state? >> yeah, you know, i don't think that was too much in the forefront of this decision. only because, you know, rick lost the senate race in pennsylvania and it has never been about winning and losing for rick. it is about pushing forward. pushing the message of freedom. and defeating barack obama. there are some bumps and bruises along the way. you win some states and lose some states. i don't think that's how rick santorum thinks. he has always been a fighter. he was down in the polls before and he kept fighting through pennsylvania even though he lost. i think he would have done the same thing here.
that was not the issue. most polls had us ahead in pennsylvania. it is his home state. we were confident we could win that home state but there were some other things that had to happen to secure the nomination. it looked like it was becoming increasingly difficult for those to happen. so rick understood that and realized that the ultimate goal was to defeat barack obama. >> thank you. let me bring in brian will, david gregory and chuck todd. you heard rick santorum say this was an improbable race. in the end, he won 11 states. he said miracle after miracle. obviously balancing the issue of his beautiful little girl and her health crisis i as well as the reality, the numbers, and the money needed to keep going. the only number more than 11 is 1144. that's that elusive delegate toll that they are all for. so notably, tamron, the name you did not hear in those remarks, as emotional as they were at times, was mitt romney.
and these things are tough. it is tough after beating each other up for so many months in this extended gop campaign that no one foresaw. tough to come together at the end. and that kind of thing takes time. the romney campaign badly wants unity behind him. but as i mentioned it, chuck todd, a few minutes ago, coming out of, this you have karen santorum with a new fan base of her own. this lawyer who has raised seven kids who really was an appealing and powerful media presence for the campaign in the latter half. and of course, as the senator mentioned, you have bella who has her own fan base and led to so many people, especially parents of special needs people showing up at his rallies. a voice, a constituency that hasn't had someone to look to since sarah palin on the bottom of the mccain ticket. >> that's a fantastic point. santorum said that they didn't trash anybody. i couldn't help but to think about this ad, for example,
that's up in pennsylvania. mitt romney's folks suspended the ad but basically it said that pennsylvania didn't want rick santorum as the senator and they don't want him to be the president. he specifically noted that he didn't trash anyone. and we know that we heard it from newt gingrich as well. a lot of that language they direct at mitt romney. >> i can't hem but think that that ad in particular may be the reason that rick santorum kept mitt romney's name out of his concession speech. it is one of those, it felt like piling on. you remember the romney campaign. they announced that they pulled it monday morning. but it had gotten some airing and it certainly was getting some, not a lot, but it was getting some airing. and as brian pointed out, these things are harder to get over for the candidates themselves. what is amazing here. usually, candidates get out a primary too late. when they should, in this case, i would say for santorum's own
political future, he got out at about as good of a time for his own political rehabilitation and his own political future going forward as he could have done. he went through it. made his last stand in wisconsin. it didn't work. he gets out before the possibility of embarrassing himself and losing pennsylvania. >> let me bring you back in. we know within the hour the president will speak from florida on the buffett rule. this conversation of fairness or class warfare, depending on as you say, your perspective here. but newt gingrich is saying he is staying in the race. as reality forms into a one-on-one battle between mitt romney and president obama with the campaign even having that phone conference yesterday, wanting romney's tax returns. wapgt romney to be clear on why they believe he wants middle class americans to pay more money. so this santorum suspension comes with all of this going on as well. >> the general election campaign has already started. whether newt gingrich is still in the race or not he will conceded over the weekend that romney is likely the nominee so gingrich has to make up his own
mind. he is keeping his voice alive and his ideas alive. one point about what they both mentioned about rick santorum not mentioning mitt romney, part of this is that he wants to be able to choreograph a little of how that endorsement unravels. the message we wants to push on romney. he won't give up that recognition and encoursement without some validation for some of the things he was about. that he wants governor romney to talk about. this is where the choreography come in. that will take some time. particularly because it's been so hard fought. if you are rick santorum, you still recognize that mitt romney, even as he could not sol dates the party around him. the governor of iowa today endorsing him. still has work to do to consolidate the base of the party. and santorum represents a lot of that. >> and what he also represents, as he stated in his remarks, voice to the voiceless. one of the things repeatedly
noted about rick santorum is this connection. the pennsylvania roots that he is able to articulate without a teleprompter. and just adlib his past and wind it into what a lot of people are going through, particularly in that rust belt. we saw it again today. the way he is able to connect. whether you agree with his ideology or where he stands, that connection factor that mitt romney critics say he just does not possess at this point. >> that's right. first my last comments, i'm aware i just made sarah palin sarah palin a u.s. senator. this irony, this plays off what chuck was saying. that pennsylvania argument worked in so many places but was not likely to work in pennsylvania coming off that 18-point loss that so badly damaged rick santorum in the first place. he did what he did, 11 states worth, despite what happened to him in his home state. his departure from elective
office. those arguments against the wealth of the romney campaign and his wealthy image, being able to talk about his roots and coal might know and being a veteran. the son of a veteran having served. that was all doing very well for him in the power corridor of the campaign there briefly. >> chuck todd, we know that congressman ryan said a few week ago that this race has gone on long enough and he was worried it would start to damage mitt romney here. again, timing is everything. we know the conversation the president plans to have before the cameras in florida within the hour. how much damage, for example, the comments about health care with rick santorum saying that what was sign by mitt romney as governor of massachusetts and what is before the supreme court as they call owncare is the same thing. how much damage did he cause to mitt romney that perhaps will linger with independents, especially. >> i think the damage he did was just financially extending this
campaign. forcing romney to spend down final resources. he is way behind in getting the general election campaign going. getting on par with the campaign. that that, it would have been more damaging to mitt romney had he stayed in this race. had he gone through may. had he possibly won primaries in may and sort of lengthened the. a time that the romney campaign could fully put together. let's remember that some of the santorum's rise had to do with mitt romney's campaign skills. and a lot of it had to do with the fact that he was the last remaining viable anti-romney alternative in the conservative movement. and i think that that is what we'll try to figure out over the next four or eight years of how much of santorum's support was pro santorum and how many of it was anti-romney. >> let's me go back to ron mott in gettysburg. what more do we know about the event that santorum will be participating in?
he did cancel and reschedule. he is it a point to be with james dobson and this american heartland conversation on faith and family and the american values. >> i think it is a shoutout to the folks who supported him in this campaign. throws the religious right throughout this country. those are the folk that rick santorum was really thinking for coming out and supporting. i want to pick up if i could on the point that david made about the choreography. the republicans will have to don their fancy footwork to try to smooth over the furry carpet around their feet and around the feet of their presumptive nominee, mitt romney. let's not forget that rick santorum four years ago endorsed mitt romney as the conservative over john mccain. this time around he got a real shot in the gut as he rose to this campaign. and one of the things i'll always remember is you hoe described him using two words uniquely disqualified to debate president obama, what he and a lot of other republicans think is the central issue in this campaign. that is health care.
and so it will be interesting to see going forward if rick santorum is employed by the romney campaign to somehow sell that message, that mitt romney is the best person to beat president obama in the fall. especially arguing the points about health care. >> let me bring back hogan. do we have any information that you can provide to us at this point regarding rick santorum? he has a meeting planned or a phone conversation with mitt romney. we know they've spoken at least once. >> i can break a little news actually. i know that governor romney has reached out to rick santorum to have a meeting about a potential endorsement and rick is receptive to the meeting but there is no plan at this time. >> as david gregory pointed out, mitt romney would love to see this endorsement as soon as possible. any idea if this meeting will happen this week? we know, as david again pointed out. we all know the general election is underway whether newt
gingrich will come to that point or not. >> like i said, we made no plans at this point. i know rick is open to the meeting. that governor romney has asked for the meeting. we'll get them together soon and we can work something out. >> what about the concern there has been some really bad blood. they've gone about this without trashing anybody. i brought up the ad in pennsylvania that was pulled temporarily from romney's people that really went hard after the form he senator in his home state. how bad, if i can phrase it that way, is the conversation or the blood between the two of them? >> i work for mike huckabee for years. he always said you can't get into this business if you're afraid of seeing your own blood. politics is a blood sport. we all know that.
rick santorum doesn't hold grudges. this isn't about, i'll dangle something out there until i get what i want. that's not what santorum is about. we've talked about this from the beginning. it is with defeating barack obama and that's the ultimate goal for the campaign. it has been from day one. whether as the nominee or a conservative voice that's the vision. that's the goal. and we'll continue to be a national voice for those things. >> but wanting to be the conservative voice after the laundry list of things, the criticism coming from rick santorum to romney romney saying he is not a true conservative. hitting him very hard on health care saying it is the same as what barack obama has presented as health reform for this country. linking the two, in the debates. really challenging mitt romney. i don't have to bring it up but i will bring it up. this etch a sketch moment. you heard the candidate walking out there camdenizing on this moment after romney's advisers
said that they'll clean the slate and start over in the general election. we all remember what happened between hillary clinton and president obama. hillary served in the administration. this is what it is about. you get to see the battles early on so you're prepared for them in the general. other thing to hit barack obama on and attack his record on other than just herring. there are a lot of other things. it is not just about one issue. i know the conservative movement will be highlighting those as the campaign moves forward. >> thank you very much. thank you for the news that the mitt romney campaign, they've requested a meeting with mr. santorum. we'll see when that will take place and what come out of it. thank you, david gregory, chuck
todd, brian williams. we'll continue to follow the developments as well. we're expecting the president to speak from florida on the buffett rule. things are heating up in this general electric. the conversation over tax, so-called tax fairness. and class warfare. in full swing. martin bashir will pick up our coverage and have of course reaction to the president and the big news of this, how rick santorum suspending his campaign after he said it was over the dinner table with his family. that he made the decision to jump in. it is with his family at his side that he is jumping out.
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will suspend his campaign. as we await the president, i want to bring in our political panel. we have with us from washington, democratic strategist julian epstein. and republican strategist ron christy founder and form he special assistant to president george w. bush. gentlemen, i need to wash you that we may have to cut away as soon as the president speaks. as we see the podium is being set and there is a woman speaking. i don't know her name but there she is. julian, given the buffett rule is unlikely to ever become law, what's the point of doing such an important speech on it today? >> i'm not sure that it won't ever become. >> do you really think it will pass through the house? >> not before the election but i think it is teeing up the issue. i think there are two purposes. one is i think there is clearly a political purpose and this debate hems