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Romney, Santorum to meet in Pittsburgh on Friday

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 3:31 p.m.
 
Campaign strategists aren't saying whether an endorsement is coming, but Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum will meet in Pittsburgh on Friday. The meeting will be their first since Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, dropped his presidential bid on April 10 after falling behind in delegates and cash. Neither campaign would disclose where they'll meet. Santorum intends to discuss issues with the presumptive Republican nominee, including his possible endorsement, said a senior adviser. "These are the kind of gestures that gracious winners make," said Bruce Haynes, a Washington-based GOP strategist not affiliated with either campaign. "It allows Santorum to go forward with the kind of dignity that preserves his future in politics, but also ingratiates Romney to Santorum supporters." By agreeing to meet in Pittsburgh, Romney demonstrates that Santorum's supporters are important, Haynes said, noting Romney needs to gain the backing of evangelicals and staunch conservatives who supported Santorum. Following the meeting with Santorum, Romney will hold a campaign event at Sauereisen, a specialty cements manufacturer located in RIDC Park on Gamma Drive in O'Hara. Romney on Wednesday kicked off his Virginia campaign by talking about jobs and the economy, saying he would do "the opposite" of what President Obama has done. He painted small businesses as heroes of the economy and said legislation Obama signed to regulate the banking industry hurt smaller institutions. Romney went to the Washington area to raise money and hold meetings at the Republican National Committee. The Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington are a region of a key swing state that will be critical for the former Massachusetts governor, since Obama won Virginia in 2008 after back-to-back Republican victories by George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a Green Tree native, remains Romney's sole competitor now that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich officially ended his candidacy yesterday. The race early on drew 10 candidates. Santorum and his wife, Karen, have appeared on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" to discuss their future, and he scheduled an appearance on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" next week.
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