Carl P. Leubsdorf: Does Romney have what it takes for GOP nod?
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels gave CPAC's most substantive and challenging speech, calling efforts to eliminate earmarks "a trifle" and saying focusing on them and "'waste, fraud and abuse' trivializes what needs to be done." But he has angered some social conservatives by down-playing their issues, and he lacks the charisma of Palin or Bachmann, not to mention Obama.
Two other potentially appealing candidates, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, say they won't run.
In that field, Romney's support in the crucial first primary state of New Hampshire, assuming he can maintain it, could help him become at least a GOP finalist and, absent a clear conservative alternative, a possible nominee.
But so many Republicans would not be seeking an alternative if they had greater confidence he was a true frontrunner and potential 2012 winner.
Carl P. Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News. Readers may write to him via e-mail at: email@example.com.
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