Foster Friess, a wealthy conservative donor whose funds propelled Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign, will host a private gathering in Scottsdale, Ariz., this weekend to rally support behind Santorum’s potential 2016 bid.

A group of Republican business executives, as well as GOP consultants from South Carolina and Iowa, are scheduled to have conversations with Santorum about his strategy and with Friess about financing a national political operation.

John Brabender, a longtime Santorum adviser, confirmed the meetings Wednesday.

According to Santorum associates familiar with the sessions, both Santorum and Friess will address attendees and make clear they are working together as Santorum moves toward a run.

Santorum - a former Pennsylvania senator who won 11 primaries and caucuses during his insurgent 2012 campaign - will argue that his populist economic pitch and conservative following would make him a formidable contender in the primaries, aides said.

In an e-mail exchange last week with The Washington Post, Friess said that 20 Republican governors invited him to their inaugural celebrations this month, including a potential Santorum rival, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.).But, he added, “I am clearly in the Santorum camp.”

The associates said Friess would also make an informal presentation this weekend about the need for Santorum to expand his grassroots-heavy financial network in order to compete with possible candidates such as former Florida governor Jeb Bush and 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who are both weighing a run and have deep reservoirs of support among top GOP donors.

Bush and his allies have already launched two new political action committees, including the Right to Rise super PAC, to begin fundraising and organizing ahead of his rivals.

Santorum came from behind in the polls to win the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses. That victory catapulted him into the first-tier of the primary race and made him one of Romney’s leading challengers for weeks.

Friess - who made his fortune in mutual funds - gave more than $2 million to a Santorum super PAC in 2012, enabling the candidate to stay on the airwaves across the country as the senator’s tight-knit and little-funded effort struggled to compete. But Friess also caused Santorum headaches with some of his remarks, including a televised joke about women using aspirin as a contraceptive: "The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly."

Since 2012, Santorum has been involved with a conservative advocacy organization he founded, Patriot Voices, and has worked on several Christian-themed film projects. On Tuesday night, he huddled in Washington with 33 friends and advisers, including his former Senate chiefs of staff, to discuss his 2016 plans.

“The Senator talked about his 2012 run, lessons learned from 2012, how he has laid the groundwork for a potential 2016 run,” Matthew Beynon, a Santorum confidant, wrote in an e-mail Wednesday.

A Santorum entry would be complicated from the start by the crowded nature of the emerging GOP field, particularly on the conservative side of the party. In addition to Santorum, other tea-party favorites eyeing bids include former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Rand Paul (Ky.), and Maryland neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Santorum, who rose to national prominence as an ambitious lawmaker and culture warrior, would aim to carve out his own space as a voice for working-class voters who can speak to the rising gap between the rich and the poor. Last year, he published a book, “Blue Collar Conservatives,” a manifesto for the campaign he envisions.

In February, Santorum will publish “Bella’s Gift,” about his young daughter, Isabella, who has a chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 18 and was hospitalized during Santorum’s 2012 campaign.