Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is scheduled to meet with Sen. Mike Lee on Wednesday on Capitol Hill, according to GOP sources.
The Utah Republican invited the former Massachusetts governor for a discussion on the debt ceiling and plans to press him to support the “Cut, Cap, Balance” pledge jointly sponsored by several conservative advocacy groups and supported by Members with tea party ties. The pledge calls for Members to withhold support for increasing the debt ceiling unless the deal is coupled with deep spending cuts, mandated spending caps and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
Lee, a freshman Senator elected with substantial tea party support last year, has put out similar invitations to the rest of the GOP presidential field.
Four candidates have already announced their support for the pledge, including businessman Herman Cain, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.).
Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), set to formally launch her candidacy Monday in Iowa, is considered the “big catch” by pledge supporters, one Republican source said.
“Her support would go a long way to making the movement successful,” this source said. “Several of the coalition groups and Senators, including Lee, have reached out to her campaign asking her to sign the pledge.”
Lee has yet to make an endorsement in the presidential race, although Hatch, who backed Romney when he ran in 2008, is supporting the former Massachusetts governor again. As a devout Mormon and through his reputation for saving the 2002 winter Olympics from mismanagement, Romney has maintained strong ties to Utah. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) announced his presidential candidacy this week.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.