The leader of the Tea Party Nation organization has a blunt message for likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney: Tea partiers will likely vote for you, but don’t expect them to get energized and campaign for you.
“The tea party is not going to coalesce around Romney,” Judson Phillips told The Daily Caller on Thursday. “Most of us will vote for Romney, but we will not be out there with signs for him or in his campaign.” (RELATED: Full coverage of the tea party movement)
Phillips said that surveys conducted on the Tea Party Nation website have shown that about 25 percent of tea party activists say they won’t vote for Romney in the general election.
These activists — who don’t think Romney is an authentic conservative — flirted with Romney’s rivals during the Republican primary fight.
But Phillips said he expects that number to decrease as the former Massachusetts governor gets into a one-on-one race with President Barack Obama.
“While that number will change as we get closer to the election, Romney has a huge problem with the conservative base of the GOP,” Phillips said. “He had better do something about that ASAP or he won’t have to worry about that moving to the middle nonsense. Without the GOP base, he is a lost cause.”
“Most of us,” he added, “are focusing on Senate and House races now.”
Another conservative leader, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, struck a similar note after former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum dropped out of the presidential race this week.
“It’s difficult for us to back a candidate our constituents don’t believe in and aren’t excited about,” Perkins told CNN, suggesting that social conservatives will instead focus their efforts on helping Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate in 2012.