Top Republicans are fed up with Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh—off the record at least. Without naming names, Politico says that “congressional leaders” privately complain that the conservative commentariat is hurting their chances in 2010 by pushing the party too far to the fringe. Operatives close to top 2012 presidential contenders say they’d like to harness the grass-roots anger against Barack Obama, but worry about seeming too extreme.
That tension’s one of the main reasons Mitt Romney’s kept a low profile, not wanting to make any tradeoffs this early. Tim Pawlenty says the talkers “are part of the coalition, not the whole coalition.” The talkers have their devotees, too, who believe the party lost control for lack of ideological purity. Others believe that the party needs to be more inclusive. “Without a good slice of the independents, we are doomed,” says Bob Michel.