Gingrich: Reports social conservatives rallying behind Santorum ‘exaggerated’

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich dismissed suggestions that social conservatives would rally behind Rick Santorum one day after a group of 150 conservative activists voted to support the former Pennsylvania senator.

"That report was very highly exaggerated," said Gingrich on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"We basically split that group, I got a very good number of votes and I think as of noon today that Reverend Jim Garlow and [former] Congressman J.C. Watts and others who were there are going to be talking. And I think they'll indicate that I have very strong support from Christian conservatives and social conservatives and that that support continues," Gingrich said.

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The social conservative activists who met in Texas earlier this weekend announced Saturday that they had voted to throw their support behind Santorum.

While the decision was not unanimous, Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council and a spokesman for the group said a "strong consensus" had emerged in support of Santorum after three rounds of voting.

Gingrich though claimed strong support within the group said the only consensus that emerged was against Romney.



"There was an agreement, the one consensus was that virtually no one was for Mitt Romney," said the former House speaker.


"In fact there was a very strong Santorum group and there was a very strong Gingrich group at that particular meeting and the Gingrich folks are still very much for me," he added.

Social conservative voters unconvinced of Mitt Romney’s conservative credentials are seeking to coalesce behind a single candidate and avoid a repeat of the 2008 election when they were unable to prevent Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) from capturing the GOP nomination.

Romney who won the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary is leading in polls in South Carolina one week ahead of that state’s primary vote.