(WASHINGTON) — Wasting no time, the Romney campaign reached out to Rick Santorum’s biggest donor, Foster Friess, on Wednesday. Just one day after Santorum dropped out of the race, Friess told ABC News the campaign touched base with the former mutual fund manager and he feels as though he must financially help Romney.
“There’s a lot at stake. Rick has said he is going to support the ticket and I will do the same,” Friess said. “I’ve had some conversations with his people, but not with him directly about how I can help.”
Politico was first to report Friess would financially back Romney now that Santorum is out of the race.
Friess was the largest donor to Santorum’s super PAC, The Red, White, and Blue Fund, and is a longtime friend who during parts of the campaign was often seen by the former Pennsylvania senator’s side, usually in his white cowboy hat.
He said that while he respects and understands Santorum’s decision he “honestly would still like him to be in the fray” and “still be competitive.”
“It’s his decision and when you have a child in danger and Karen was home alone with Bella, it was all part of how he was thinking,” Friess said, adding Santorum really “hoped to win Wisconsin.”
“His strength as a campaigner is face-to-face meeting people and answering questions,” Friess said. “You can do that in Iowa, but Pennsylvania is so huge it’s difficult to run that campaign.” He added that Santorum was also facing the reality he would be up against a television ad assault by the Romney campaign in his home state.
He said he never encouraged Santorum to leave the race so the party could start focusing on defeating President Obama, but knows “he’s been getting that from other people he respects.”
Despite pouring in almost $1.7 million into the super PAC, Friess says he has no regrets that his wallet is a little lighter.
“I’m extremely happy. Look what we accomplished. Look what Rick Santorum did for the party, the enthusiasm for his message, and his message isn’t going anywhere, the message is still resonating. Those of us who believe it’s now our turn to continue to promote that message, having dinner parties and getting involved in the process.”
He added that his family isn’t sorry there is less to go around (reports estimate Friess’ worth at over $500 million).
“My son says, ‘Dad, I don’t have any problem with you giving away my inheritance because what’s an inheritance if we don’t have a country.’”
As for the always-colorful Friess, who got some notoriety in his own right for funding Santorum’s campaign and for making some eyebrow-raising comments during the campaign, he says he’s hoping to “fade back into obscurity.”
In February, he tried to make light of the contraception argument to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC and it didn’t go over well.
“This contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s so…inexpensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives,” Friess told a clearly surprised Mitchell. “The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”
And Wednesday evening on Fox Business Channel, Friess said he told Lou Dobbs that he hopes Obama’s “teleprompters are bulletproof.”
Friess said he regretted the words as soon as he said them.
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