Gingrich is perhaps the consummate Washington insider. While the former House speaker has denied that he served as a lobbyist, he has been paid millions of dollars to broker influence in Washington, including on behalf of government-sponsored mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which many conservatives blame for the financial crisis. In 2003, he reportedly leaned on lawmakers to back the Medicare prescription drug benefit on behalf of the drug companies and industry lobbyists pouring money into his health care consulting firm. Romney’s past moderation as Massachusetts governor, meanwhile, sets off alarm bells for Tea Partiers seeking ideological purity.

“Where is their candidate in this race?” Jennifer Duffy, Senior Editor for The Cook Political Report, asks of the Tea Party. “It might have been Sarah Palin, but she’s not running. Where is the alternative? There isn’t one.”…

Brendan Steinhauser, Director of Federal and State Campaigns for Tea Party-aligned group FreedomWorks, said his group is focused on winning the Senate, not the White House. He acknowledged that the decision was not unrelated to the state of the GOP field. “If [Indiana Rep.] Mike Pence was running,” he said, “I think it would be different.”

Duffy argued that the state of the presidential field suggests the appeal of the Tea Party movement is less broad than backers might like to think.