The Romney express is starting to roll

While former Alaska governor Sarah Palin sparks more passion among many Republicans and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee conveys more folksy charm, Romney is waging the most deliberate and methodical campaign of any GOP presidential contender in at least two decades for the nomination in 2012…

Many establishment conservatives who once viewed Romney with suspicion because of his roots in liberal Massachusetts and his past support of abortion and gay rights have been won over, says Tony Fabrizio, a GOP pollster who ran the straw poll.

“They view him as one of the party’s elder statesmen,” Fabrizio says. “They see him as more thoughtful and measured than before, with nothing to prove. He’s earned his spurs.”…

If history favors Romney, the Tea Party may not. The anti-tax, limited-government movement is generating the most energy against Obama and congressional Democrats.

Romney praises their efforts and plays down the possibility of friction with the GOP.

“Brought a lot of attention to important issues,” he says of the movement. “Given us a lot of energy when we needed it most, and I believe in the final analysis will combine with other Republicans to present a far stronger challenge to the liberal dominance in Washington. …