By Alexander Bolton - 03/22/12 07:43 PM EDT
Mitt Romney reassured Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and other lawmakers of his conservative credentials during a meeting near the Capitol campus on Thursday.
It was part of the former Massachusetts governor's attempt to unify conservatives behind his candidacy. Some of the far right have expressed doubts about Romney's stance on social issues, including gay rights and abortion.
DeMint, a leading conservative voice and favorite of the Tea Party movement, declined to name the other lawmakers who joined his meeting with the GOP front-runner.
“He communicated it first, what we wanted to hear. He knows we’re on the precipice, he knows very hard decisions need to be made, he knows we need to balance our budget and I think he knows the next four or five years could be the most difficult our country faces,” DeMint said.
“What we got from him is a sense of urgency that our country is in trouble and we need some real leadership,” DeMint said.
Romney, DeMint and other lawmakers who attended the meeting also discussed healthcare reform.
DeMint said Romney emphasized his pledge to repeal the 2010 healthcare reform law. Romney has said repeatedly in presidential debates and on the campaign trail that he would repeal President Obama's healthcare law if elected but he's been criticized by conservatives for signing Massachusetts' healthcare reform law, which contained some provisions similar to Obama's law.
“He certainly volunteered that,” said DeMint. “He’s committed to — one of the first acts is to give waivers to every state and then hopefully we can officially repeal the thing through legislation."
DeMint said he would meet with all the presidential contenders this cycle. He endorsed Romney in the 2008 presidential campaign but has withheld his support this election.
He said he would support the eventual GOP nominee and he urged candidates not to prolong the race until August.
“I hope we don’t drag it out until the convention,” he said.
Romney also met with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday.
DeMint said no one questioned Romney about his penchant for making gaffes on the campaign trail.
“It didn’t come up because all of us have been in campaigns and have strayed off message,” he said.