WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mitt Romney's early success in the Republican
presidential race is challenging the tea party's clout. Will it
continue to pull the GOP sharply right? Or will it merge with
mainstream Republican elements in a nod to pragmatism?
Romney's strength seems at odds with the tea party's fiery
success in ousting Republicans seen as compromisers.
He defends the government's 2008 bank bailouts. He defends the
mandated health insurance he initiated as Massachusetts governor.
He once supported abortion rights, gun control and gay rights.
Yet Romney is faring better in polls and fundraising than are
contenders with stronger tea party credentials.
Some Republican strategists say tea partyers are more pragmatic
than most people think. Others say Romney may face problems with
tea partyers if TV attack ads underscore his more moderate