Even before Rick Santorum's sweep of contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri Tuesday, the Romney campaign was getting warnings and advice from Republicans concerned about the former Massachusetts governor's performance on the stump, which hasn't improved since the state caucuses and primaries began early in January, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
One adviser told the candidate to better hone his use of conservative code words while another advised Romney that his message is too businesslike and too broad to capitalize on the angst of angry Republican voters searching for a cause, the Post said.
Romney won three races and lost five and leads the delegate count. Most Republicans said they still think he will win the nomination during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August, but they also say they see a candidate who hasn't captured critical support among conservatives, and whose recent defeats indicate the aura of inevitability is flawed.
"It's a bit of a wake-up call for Governor Romney," one of his advisers told the Post. "He's obviously got to sharpen the message and clarify the vision -- particularly for activists who are more likely to participate in these contests."
While Romney agreed to sharpen his message, he isn't expected to move too far to the right, the adviser said.
"You can't make him who he's not," the adviser said.
Maine's caucuses wrap up this week, and officials will announce the results Saturday. Arizona and Michigan have primaries Feb. 28.