(...) So the question for Romney becomes this: How does he bring Santorum and his supporters inside the tent at a moment when he also wants to appeal to a broader, general election audience? It could prove a tricky task.
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.”
(...) Gingrich has made clear, in both his public comments and in a private meeting with Romney, that he’s realistic about his chances and is remaining in the race to have his voice heard.
That means Boston must make him feel loved — or at least respected.
“I think Newt wants to be part of the campaign,” Bell said. “He clearly wants to make his peace and help lead the crusade against Obama. Romney can accommodate that, and tell him they’ll listen to anything he has to say about the platform.”
(...) Still, some in the party fret about giving the often-undisciplined Gingrich too much of a high profile in Tampa, worrying he’ll veer off message from the podium.
“Can you imagine Gingrich being told to vet his speech through Romney’s campaign staff?” asked one senior Republican.
(...) Paul has at least two other interests: the ambitions of his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and the fate of his agenda. The first can be taken care of with a convention role. The latter is more delicate.
“It’s not a quid pro quo thing, but [Paul] should know that the issues he raised in the primary, especially on monetary reform, will get attention,” said Bell. “Romney should make clear he’s open to looking at different options at the Fed.”
The other issue with Paul: how to tame his youthful supporters, few of which have any allegiance to the GOP.
Romney officials will have to spend some time and money in the next months minding state Republican conventions to ensure that the actual delegates elected to be on the floor in Tampa are truly loyal to him.
“You don’t want to have closet Ron Paul delegates there,” Donatelli said. “We had to spend at least a half-million dollars after John McCain was the presumptive candidate on state convention stuff just to make sure real McCain people were elected as delegates.”