Social conservatives in Iowa held a secret meeting Monday to rally behind a candidate who can stop GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney.

CNN reported that a number of religious and social conservative leaders in the early primary state consider Romney a flip-flopperon issues important to them and are interested in rallying behind a candidate who could beat the former Massachusetts governor in the Iowa caucus and subsequent primaries.

The leaders, including members of Iowa Right to Life, the Iowa Chapter of Concerned Women in America and the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, as well as members of major Iowa churches, met at a private office building in Des Moines, according to CNN.

The CNN report comes the same day that Romney announced the endorsement of Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGun proposal picks up GOP support Overnight Regulation: Senate panel approves driverless car bill | House bill to change joint-employer rule advances | Treasury to withdraw proposed estate tax rule | Feds delaying Obama methane leak rule Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-S.D.), a popular two-term senator who himself once mulled jumping into the presidential race.

On the issues that I have been fighting for in my campaign — creating a better business environment, lessening the regulatory burden and ending Washington’s spending addiction — Sen. Thune has been a leading voice in the Senate, Romney said in announcing Thune’s support.

Thune’s endorsement seems to indicate that even as he struggles to win over critics who consider him inconsistent on specific issues, Romney is still able to gain endorsements of key Republicans.

Romney is betting he can win Iowa’s Jan. 3 primary without the support of social and religious conservatives in the state. That’s not what happened the last time he ran for president in 2008, when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee beat him in the Iowa GOP caucus. 

But Romney has opened a new campaign office in the Hawkeye State and is investing time and staff resources there, a clear sign that he thinks he can win.