UPDATE: In a surprise move, the group meeting in Brehnam has voted to get behind Rick Santorum.
Last week we told you how leaders from the religious right planned to gather in Brenham, Texas, this weekend and attempt to unite behind a more socially conservative (and non-Mormon) alternative to Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential race. Well, it turns out they’ve given up on reaching a consensus until after the South Carolina and Florida primaries. The New York Times reports:
Scores of politically influential evangelicals plan to attend the meeting, but the original dream of coalescing around one candidate of the religious right — Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum or Rick Perry — is unrealistic for now, several leaders said in interviews this week. If one of those candidates surges in South Carolina, or in the Florida primary on Jan. 31, pressure will grow on the others to step back, the leaders said.
“Any talk of winnowing out the field is premature until after South Carolina,” said Richard Land, the president of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. “The best thing that can happen for social conservatives is for one candidate to get a very clear mandate from South Carolina voters. If that happens, you might be able to get a consensus that makes a difference.”