Between the grassroots conservative movement and the Republican nominee-in-waiting, a grudging acknowledgment that they need each other.
PHILADELPHIA -- The Tea Party's worst nightmare has come to pass: Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican presidential nominee.
For the movement that made its mark in 2010 chiefly by giving moderate, establishment Republicans a drubbing in primaries across the country -- staking claim to the soul of the GOP on behalf of a newly energized, populist group of activists, no matter the cost -- this is nothing short of a catastrophe. For the movement to achieve its ultimate goal of toppling President Obama, it now must join forces with just the kind of compromised, compromising Republican whose elimination was its raison d'etre.
Romney, meanwhile, must mend fences with a movement that demands his respect and attention in the wake of his untidy primary victory -- and one that is broadly unpopular with the general population. One recent poll found 41 percent of Americans support the Tea Party while 45 percent oppose it, and 50 percent say the more they hear about it, the less they like it.
And so, on Monday, Romney attempted to thread the needle in Philadelphia. Before an unusually pro-Romney Tea Party group, he gave a speech that was longer on symbolism than persuasion, an attempt to show that the Tea Party is with him without necessarily showing that he is with the Tea Party.