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Why conservative critics are now backing Mitt Romney

Conservative Republican critics of Mitt Romney are now lining up behind him, in part because the bruising primary race is hurting the GOP in the eyes of voters, say polls.

By DCDecoder / March 5, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop in Youngstown, Ohio March 5, 2012.

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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Washington

Heading into Super Tuesday, perhaps the biggest thing Mitt Romney has going for him is this: Republicans seem ready for this thing to be over. 

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This was not the case going into previous primary contests. Indeed, more than any other factor, the driving force behind Rick Santorum’s wins in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, and Newt Gingrich’s win in South Carolina, seemed to be that voters wanted the process to go on. They weren’t enamored of Romney, they liked the idea of backing an underdog, and they wanted to shake up the race.

That could still happen, of course - but this time, we don’t think it will. 

Remember Sarah Palin urging voters to “keep this vetting process going, keep the debate going” by voting for Newt? Well, it’s been a while since Palin – or any other high-profile GOP figure - has offered that message.

Instead, as the New York Times reports, more and more prominent elected officials, like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia and Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma are now lining up behind Romney.

Perhaps even more notable, a growing consensus seems to be emerging among conservative opinion-shapers in the media – including many who have not been friendly toward Romney – that the party should essentially resign itself to his nomination and move forward. Several have done this even while writing that a Romney candidacy may be doomed to defeat.

To wit, conservative columnist George Will – one of Romney’s toughest critics on the right - drew attention last week for a piece that argued Republicans should turn their attention away from the presidential contest altogether, and focus instead on retaining the House and winning the Senate.

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