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What Santorum sought in Romney meeting

 

Rick Santorum had three main topics to hit on when he met with presumptive nominee Mitt Romney in Pittsburgh on Friday, a senior adviser to the former Pennsylvania senator told NBC News.

John Brabender, who served as Santorum’s senior strategist during the campaign, said that when the former Pennsylvania senator sat down one-on-one with Romney, he wanted:

  • To discuss Santorum’s manufacturing plan, the keystone to the former candidate’s economic platform
  • Assurances that Romney would work to repeal President Obama’s health care law and that it would not be replaced with a plan containing a mandate
  • A commitment from the former Massachusetts governor to pursue “economic solutions that are pro-family"

The meeting, which took place in Brabender’s office, lasted longer than expected -– almost 90 minutes -– which Brabender said was a good sign.  But it ended with no endorsement from Santorum and no clear plans for how the underdog candidate might help the presumptive Republican nominee in the future. Brabender said there will be “further discussions” between Santorum and Romney staffers about an endorsement. Combined, the two candidates have won all but two primaries.

But it has been more than three weeks since Santorum has left the race, and he has repeatedly punted when faced with questions about when he will back Romney. Santorum continues to say he will support the GOP nominee and is committed to electing a Republican to the White House. Still, despite that commitment, Santorum aides said before the meeting that it would not result in an immediate endorsement, and Santorum would not accept any offer from Romney to help pay down his campaign debt.

“From the standpoint of the senator, he wanted to talk about issues important to his blue collar, working class, conservative roots,” Brabender said.

Friday’s meeting was the first opportunity the former rivals have had to speak at length, and Brabender, who spoke to Santorum briefly after the meeting, said the dialogue was “very friendly.”

“The main focus of both of them is to defeat Barack Obama in the fall,” said Brabender.