Rick Santorum at the Wyoming Capitol in Cheyenne on Monday. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Rick Santorum Pushes Convention Of U.S. States While In Wyoming, Says Trump No Longer Strong

in Wyoming Republican Party/News/politics

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By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and one-time presidential candidate said former President Donald Trump has “had a tough year” all around.

“Tough year electorally, tough year politically, tough year with records in Mar-a-Lago,” Santorum told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “He’s clearly not as strong a figure as he was a year ago. 

“Whether he can reclaim that or not, boy it’s tough. Once you lose someone, particularly as well-known as he is, it’s tough to get him back.”

The division between the more moderate and conservative factions of the Wyoming Republican Party has likely never been more evident, which Santorum said is a sign the party is healthy.

“I always felt like if you don’t have a healthy debate within your party, your party is too small,” he said. “You need folks who can win in purple areas. There’s a lot of them in our country. So, you have to have them on your team and they have to feel welcome in your team and we have to have a good debate.”

Earlier this month, Republicans in the U.S. House were embroiled in a multi-day debate over who would represent the GOP as speaker of the House, showing a clear division between the two major factions of the national party. 

Santorum said he sees debates like these as a positive.



Convention of States

Santorum would like Wyoming to join a national movement pushing back against Congress and the Washington, D.C.-based federal government.

“I don’t care which party it is, we need to get power out of that place,” he said. “We need to put some rules back in there and some structure back in there to protect our republic.”

Santorum, who hails from Pennsylvania, met with about a dozen mostly staunch conservative Wyoming lawmakers at the Capitol in Cheyenne on Monday to promote the concept of a convention of U.S. states to propose amendments to the United States Constitution. 

He met with Cowboy State Daily afterward for a one-on-one interview.

The Convention of States is a national effort to call a convention under Article V of the United States Constitution. 

This allows a highly restricted meeting of participating U.S. states to propose amendments, which the convention’s supporters say could be used to impose measures such as fiscal restraints on federal government, limit its power and jurisdiction, and put term limits on officials and members of Congress.

Article V provides a way for the states to bypass Congress in proposing amendments to the Constitution, although it has never been used. 

When two-thirds of state legislatures apply for a convention, Congress is constitutionally required to call it. An agreement to participate must be passed at the state level.

What It Would Take

Overall, 34 states are needed for a convention to be called, but 38 are needed for the convention to pass amendments that are legally binding. 

A convention has never been called in U.S. history.

State Sen. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, is preparing a bill for this year’s session that would commit Wyoming to joining the Convention of States. He drafted similar legislation in 2022.

Although only 19 Republican-majority states have so far committed to the movement, but there has been some bipartisan support. For instance, in Wyoming, Jackson Democrat Mike Yin supported Laursen’s legislation.

“We have folks who are very conservative, folks who are very moderate who just see the problem in Washington,” he said.


Rick Santorum meets with a handful of Wyoming legislators Monday at the state Capitol in Cheyenne. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Calls Out John Birch Society

Santorum said he looks at the movement as a pure states’ rights issue, allowing states like California to be as progressive as it wants to be and Wyoming to be as conservative as it wants to be.

He said the biggest obstacle to their efforts in the Mountain West has been the ultra-conservative John Birch Society.

“On a lot of things, they’re governed by fear, they’re governed by mistrust and they don’t look rationally at the realities of a situation, particularly when it comes to the Constitution,” he said. “They say it’s an attack on the Constitution – it’s in the Constitution.” 

Momentum Will Build

He said once the convention effort gets closer to the 34-state mark, he expects debate to generate more national attention.

“The more people know about it and familiarize themselves with it, the more they support it,” Santorum said. “ It’s a logical step for any republic to preserve itself knowing the tendencies of people who are in power to accumulate more power.”

Others have warned a convention could allow an avenue to repealing the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. 

When Laursen proposed his legislation in 2022, advocacy group Wyoming Rising spoke against it. The bill failed to receive introduction into the House on a 37-21 vote.

Excessive Rules And Orders

Santorum joined the Convention movement in 2021 out of a desire he said was to put the people back in charge of the federal government. He is disturbed by a trend of rule-making and executive orders he sees coming from both parties in Washington, D.C. 

“We’re seeing so much concentration of power in the hands of a small group of people, particularly the president,” Santorum said. 

Santorum mentioned President Joe Biden’s effort to enact student loan forgiveness as an example. 

“He can’t do that. You’re not allowed to do that,” he said. “You may be for it or you may like it, but you can’t do that.

“That’s not a republic anymore, that’s a dictatorship.”

Santorum’s Future

Santorum said both factions of the GOP have joined the movement.

He ran for president in 2012, finishing second to Mitt Romney for the Republican Party nomination for president. 

He told Cowboy State Daily that although he will not run for president in 2024, he sees the Republican primary as wide open.

Santorum served in the Senate for 12 years and prior to that was a two-term congressman. He wouldn’t rule out running for the Senate again.

“I’m not that old yet so I try not to say never, but I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” he said.

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