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Inside Story: US 2012
Are US Republicans abandoning Mitt Romney?
After a series of setbacks in the primaries, we ask why conservatives are not uniting around the party's frontrunner.
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2012 07:22

"Romney is seeing a unique set of circumstances … the implosion of conservatism during the George W Bush administration. That's why Ron Paul has traction because he's pointing out that the conservative emperor has no clothes. There is an ideological crisis and ideological contradictions with the Republican Party."

- Allan Lichtman, a political author

The triple victory secured by Rick Santorum this week surprised probably everyone but himself.

The former Pennsylvannia senator's victories in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri have re-energised a campaign that many thought was going nowhere.

It also saw him raise $250,000 overnight.

And it has left Santorum with real momentum as the Republican primary race moves closer to Super Tuesday.

It also appears to signal yet another shift in who the right wing of the Republican party wants to challenge Barack Obama, the US president, in November.

"Romney has some fans that are Republican voters and think that he's the last best alternative but with Santorum he is really getting some people really excited. The key for Romney is figuring out how to get these people who are really excited about other candidates into his camp once he wins the number of delegates that he needs to."

- Karin Agness, the founder of the Network of Enlightened Women

Mitt Romney, as the favourite and a frontrunner of the Republicans in the US presidential nomination race, is now being forced to re-examine his campaign, which is still failing to inspire conservatives.

It all points to what could be a drawn-out primary contest as the Republican party struggles to find a united message.

The leading candidates got a chance to hone that message on Friday as they all addressed an influential conservative gathering in Washington.

Joining Lisa Fletcher on Inside Story US 2012 are: Karin Agness, the founder of the Network of Enlightened Women and fellow of the Independent Women's Forum; Allan Lichtman, the author of The Keys To The White House and White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement and a political science professor at the American University; and Robert Moran, the president of StrategyOne US and a writer for Pollster.com and NationalReview.com.

"Historically, Republicans have been very concerned about long and drawn out primaries. We've tried to coalesce around a nominee quickly and our primary process is actually built for that. However, in this case it will make a stronger campaign in the long run. I do think Romney is the frontrunner and the likely nominee."

Robert Moran, the president of StrategyOne US

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