“There is not exactly Romney-mania right now,” Senate GOP Whip Jon Kyl told POLITICO, adding that the former Massachusetts governor “absolutely” must shore up the weaknesses with the GOP base that were on such vivid display Tuesday…

“People instinctively can sense how fervently you believe in things by the way you talk about them, by what you choose to talk about,” Kyl said. “And I think to some extent, Mitt can do a little better job to responding to that political fact. Second, he has stepped on his message so many times.”

Kyl added: “Every time he defends his health care action in Massachusetts and every time he says something like [indexing minimum wage], conservatives wonder whether he has the instincts to usually take the conservative position on issues. You don’t just want a transactional president, you want one with a very fixed view of what’s right or wrong, what the good solutions to problems are — and while you always have to end up making accommodations to get things done in politics, you at least instinctively know what direction you ought to be headed in. I think conservatives need to be persuaded that Mitt has a pretty firm fix on where the conservative lodestar is.”