Some high-profile conservatives are warning Romney not to marginalize Santorum.

“If they want to be successful, they have to figure out a way to incorporate him into the campaign,” said Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, noting that Santorum “could’ve held this thing out even longer.”

That may mean prime time at the GOP convention this summer.

“I think he should have a very prominent role there,” Perkins said.

But even before Santorum left Gettysburg on Tuesday, some senior Republicans were fretting about the specter of Tampa being hijacked by one of the losing candidates and their supporters.

“We can’t let somebody who’s a better performer upstage Romney,” said one influential party leader, recalling GOP conventions in 1976 (Ronald Reagan) and 1992 (Pat Buchanan) when the nominee’s message was stepped on by his chief primary opponent. “We can’t have another shrill speech like what Pat did in 1992 with our gender gap.”