As Mitt Romney seeks to build on his wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, a near-panic has taken hold among some core conservative activists who are now scrambling to devise a strategy to deny him the Republican presidential nomination…

In one sign of their desperation, some activists hold out for what they acknowledge is a spectacular long shot: a late-entering savior who could still qualify for enough state ballots and win enough delegates to force a brokered GOP convention this summer…

Matt Kibbe, president of the pro-tea-party group FreedomWorks, said his organization has a super PAC that has raised about $2 million and could inject itself into the race to push a yet-undeclared candidate, such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is backing a weakened Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Kibbe noted that the qualifying periods for many later primary races will remain open for weeks — and that a new candidate could attract enough support to provoke a contested convention.

“In this more decentralized process, if Romney continues to create this vacuum by not consolidating 30 to 40 percent, the vacuum has to be filled,” Kibbe said. “If Newt or Santorum can’t do it, somebody’s going to do it.”