It's official; Mitt Romney is not the Tea Party's favorite.
Adam Brandon, vice president of communications for FreedomWorks, told whispers that if Mitt Romney were the candidate he'd generate about as much support from the Tea Party as Sen. John McCain garnered from conservatives in 2008—reluctant votes at best, but little enthusiasm. [Whispers: Tea Party Budget Cuts $9 Trillion.]
"We need someone who is able at the end of the day to get people excited, we need enthusiasm not just someone conservatives prefer over Obama," said Brandon.
Romney leads many GOP polls and his polished message is starting to resonate with some in the established GOP. But it's candidates like conservative businessman and talk show host Herman Cain who are getting attention from the Tea Party. [Check out political cartoons about the 2012 GOP field.]
"There's a lot of excitement about Cain not necessarily because he's got the perfect plan, but he's bold, he's getting out there," said Brandon "Is he sticky? I don't know, but a lot of Tea Partiers are looking at him."
Brandon has seen similar enthusiasm for Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry over the months, but it's since faded.
Still, Brandon is confident an anti-Romney candidate will become clearer and whoever that candidate is, the Tea Party would get behind them. [See political cartoons about the Tea Party.]
"Whoever the Tea Party supports is going to be the person who's not necessarily right on all the issues, but is able to get people fired up," he said.
And if the presidential race fails to jazz the Tea Party activists FreedomWorks represents, they'll shift to state races where candidates in Texas and Ohio are winning the movement's support.
"It will be disappointing if there wasn't a presidential candidate that the Tea Party loved, but there is plenty to get excited about in state races," said Brandon.