Julian Zelizer: Tea Party Could Make or Break Romney





Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" (Times Books) and of the new book "Governing America" (Princeton University Press).

(CNN) -- Mitt Romney spoke this weekend to the students at Liberty University, a hotbed of conservative studies,and he has been forced to think about his ties to the right. He is facing a difficult challenge in determining what his relationship should be with the tea party Republicans who helped revitalize the GOP after the doldrums of 2008.

Although there are more conservative Republicans grudgingly endorsing Romney and polls show that more tea party activists are coming to accept Romney as their candidate, there is strong evidence that there remains a great deal of distrust, which could dampen enthusiasm on the campaign trail and create tensions if mishandled. According to Congressional Quarterly, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert told reporters, "I am not as excited as I am desperate" to elect someone other than Obama.

Any misstep could cost Romney the election. If Romney is seen as too close to the tea party, he could easily undercut his ability to win independent votes in the swing states that will determine the outcome of the election....



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