Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says that GOP leaders are making a mistake by "trying to convince the Republicans across this country that they need Mitt Romney shoved down their throat."


In an interview on Sunday, the former Pennsylvania senator told NBC host Savannah Guthrie that he wasn't getting out of the race because an early selection of Arizona Sen. John McCain as the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 led to defeat.

"We have a lot of panic out there among the establishment because the establishment has tried to convince the Republicans across the country and conservatives across this country that they need Mitt Romney shoved down their throat," he remarked. "They're trying everything they can. They're not making the sale on the money, on the endorsements. They're not making the sale on the policies and what he's standing for because he's all over the map."

"Are you blind to the potential damage of a contested convention?" Guthrie asked. "Do you really think it will not cause harm to your party come November?"

"Four years ago, we had a nominee in March," Santorum laughed. "How did that work out for us?"

According to Roll Call, Romney has 94 endorsements so far from members of Congress, compared with only six for Santorum.

While endorsing the former Massachusetts governor on Sunday, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson revealed that Republican leaders in Congress were already coordinating messaging efforts with Romney's presidential campaign.

"I've been asked by Leader McConnell to lead an effort, coordinate our agenda and our message in the House, the Senate, with the presidential candidate, so we can communicate to the voters of America the very clear choice in our approach," Johnson explained in an appearance on NBC.

"I'm looking forward to making sure President Obama is a one-term president."

Watch this video from NBC's Meet the Press, uploaded April 1, 2012.