Religious Right Leaders Meet in Texas to Boost Santorum

Religious Right activists met in Houston, Texas over the weekend in an effort to increase fundraising for Rick Santorum and a pro-Santorum Super PAC, both of which are currently being heavily outspent by rival Mitt Romney. The event was hosted by social conservative activists Rebecca Hagelin, Richard Viguerie, Bob Fischer and Tim Lefever, and attended by Focus on the Family founder and Santorum supporter James Dobson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who claims he has not endorsed the senator. Politico reports that Santorum made an appearance and pledged to stay “in the race for the long haul”:

A group of conservative leaders pledged to raise a combined $1.78 million for Rick Santorum's campaign and SuperPAC after meeting privately in Texas this weekend with the Republican presidential hopeful, POLITICO has learned.

More than 200 conservatives from all over the country convened at the Houston Omni for a Friday fundraising reception for Santorum's campaign. They then met to plot strategy with the former senator Saturday morning, discussing how to overcome Mitt Romney's growing advantage in the GOP primary and fend off Newt Gingrich.

"The message was, 'we're all in,'" said South Dakota businessman and conservative organizer Bob Fischer, one of the event’s co-hosts.



Co-hosts in Houston included Fischer, Rebecca Hagelin, Richard Viguerie and Tim Lefever.

Also present were conservative leaders Tony Perkins and James Dobson.

“It was not a discussion of who to support, it was a consolidation of support,” said Perkins, differentiating the meeting with the January session. “There was a big push to raise funds. There was a sense of, ‘Now is the time to step up.’”

Perkins said Santorum’s comments Friday night at the closed-press reception were little different than what the candidate has been saying publicly.

Paraphrasing, Perkins said Santorum made clear he was in the race for the long haul and said, ‘We have a chance now and I need your help.’