"Some see America as less than perfect or downright imperfect. ... Well, I disagree with that," said Santorum. "We've seen over the last years and over the last couple of decades, a group of people trying to transform America."
On tap for Friday: Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who ended his presidential campaign in 2008 at this meeting.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is to speak Saturday.
Several favorites among conservatives were absent: Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential GOP nominee, and Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, declined invitations, citing scheduling conflicts. Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, hasn't yet left as Obama's ambassador to China, though he has signaled his intention to resign.