GOP Sends Mixed Messages on Whether It Like-Likes Romney

For every sign that Republicans and conservative voters are finally embracing Mitt Romney as their presidential nominee, there's another that shows he still hasn't satisfied them.

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For every sign that Republicans and conservative voters are finally embracing Mitt Romney as their presidential nominee, there's another that shows he still hasn't satisfied them. On the side of Republicans loving him, there's the fist-pumping crowd at his Philadelphia Tea Party speech Tuesday, a new poll, and an approving National Review editorial. On the other side is a different new poll, a focus group, a few skeptical Republican lawmakers.

On the like-like side:

  • When Romney addressed Philadelphia Tea Partiers Tuesday night, The National Review's Robert Costa reports that the candidate literally got fist pumps from the roaring audience. "No longer is the conservative base fixated on debating Romney’s merits," Costa writes. "Instead, tea-party leaders, just a few steps from Independence Hall, speak eagerly about the upcoming battle with President Obama. Romney is the vessel and potential antidote for their Beltway-related frustrations." 
  • Romney is seen favorably by 76 percent of Tea Party voters, and unfavorably by only 16 percent, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey. "That's definitely indicative of a party base ready to get on the same page," PPP's Tom Jensen says. PPP is a Democratic firm, so if it were to try to skew the results -- which we are not alleging! -- it would be toward more disunity among Republicans.
  • Republican lawmakers who had been holding out on endorsing Romney are slowly trickling in. Romney won the support of House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday; in the last week, he's picked up four Republican governors and a big Santorum donor.
  • Romney had his own hot mic moment over the weekend, when he was overheard telling supporters how he'd like to eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development and end the mortgage tax deduction for second homes. While it's awkward that Romney got specific at a private fundraiser, The National Review says in an editorial, the conservative magazine nevertheless likes those specifics.
On the not sure side:
  • CBS News/ New York Times poll finds 40 percent of Republican primary voters have reservations about Romney, while just 33 percent are enthusiastic. CBS News' Alex Sundby reports that half of white evangelicals have reservations about him, as did 41 percent of conservatives and Tea Partiers. Enthusiasm among Republican voters has climbed 12 percentage points since January, the poll finds -- a significant amount, he started way back, with 28 percent being enthusiastic about him then.
  • A focus group sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center and conducted by Democratic pollster Peter Hart Tuesday night found seven of the 12 people in the group -- all of whom had voted Republican in recent years -- saying they'd "definitely" vote for Romney, NBC News' First Read reports. "Yet what was striking were the reservations these folks, even the most conservative ones, had about Romney," the blog says. A 56-year-old from Tampa wanted him to "Make a stand whether people like it or not." A 53-year-old demanded: "Not change positions but be consistent." A 55-year-old agreed: "Stick to something."
  • The government-shrinking and revenue-increasing that National Review liked so much? Not Rep. David Camp, chair of the House Ways and Means committee, which is in charge of the government's purse. "I’m not prepared to say that that is something we’re going to look at," Camp said Monday, The Wall Street Journal's Siobhan Hughes reports. 
  • At an event called "Conversations with Conservatives" in Washington Tuesday night, Rep. Louie Gohmert said he's not ready to endorse Romney, and then took at shot at his party's presumptive nominee, Politico's Kate Nocera reports. "But let me just tell ya," Gohmert said, "if you are not sure about wanting to support Mitt Romney, whether you are liberal, whether you are very conservative, you ought to be excited because he’s been on your side at one time or another." He added "I’m not as excited as I am desperate" to beat Obama.
  • Finally, Rick Santorum's campaign mailed a mysterious fundraising letter to Iowa supporters. "It truly frightens me to think what’ll happen if Mitt Romney is the nominee," Santorum says in the letter, according to the Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs. Jacobs writes, "The blunt message quickly had Republicans here speculating: Did Santorum order up the mailer right before he suspended his campaign on April 10, so its timing was just a simple and understandable mistake? Or did Santorum, who still is raising money and possibly not quite ready to come to grips with his loss, send this wording out deliberately?" Santorum has said he's not ready to endorse anyone for president yet.
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