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AP source: Santorum huddles with conservatives

By Steve Peoples

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 5 2012 4:01 p.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum addresses supporters in Hollidaysburg, Pa., Wednesday, April 4, 2012.

Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — Rick Santorum has met privately with conservative leaders to craft plans to stop Mitt Romney's march to the Republican presidential nomination, and pressuring rival Newt Gingrich to leave the race is part of their strategy.

An official close to the campaign confirmed the northern Virginia meeting on Thursday. Attending were fiscal and social conservatives who have long doubted Romney's conservative credentials.

The official says the group decided to apply more pressure on Gingrich to leave the contest, which could allow divided conservatives to unite behind Santorum. The official requested anonymity to describe the meeting.

The effort might be too late. Santorum is far behind Romney in winning delegates to the Republican National Convention. Many Republicans are pushing Santorum to leave the race so Romney can concentrate on the general election.

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