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Many Republicans still hate Mitt Romney, even if his (eight-vote-margin) Iowa win gives him a boost as he travels to friendlier territory in New Hampshire next week. And the conservative movement seems determined not to allow itself to be fractured and defeated as it was in 2008 when John McCain captured his party’s presidential nomination.

Despite campaigning for president since 2007, Romney only captured a quarter of the vote on Tuesday, almost exactly the same amount of support he got in 2008. Republicans aren’t having it. But is the answer really the surging Rick Santorum? Certainly, his last-minute Iowa triumph will impress many Republican activists, who are voicing a growing sentiment that they need to coalesce around an alternative to Romney. Fast:

A group of movement conservatives has called an emergency meeting in Texas next weekend to find a “consensus” Republican presidential hopeful, POLITICO has learned.

(snip)

The meeting is being hosted by such prominent conservative figures as James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Don Wildmon, onetime chairman of the American Family Association; and Gary Bauer, himself a former presidential candidate.

Many of the individuals on the host list attended a previous closed-door session with Rick Perry this summer, but Perry’s candidacy stalled out, and he returned to Texas after a disappointing fifth-place finish in Iowa.

Movement conservatives are concerned that a vote split between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum among base voters could enable Mitt Romney to grab the GOP nomination. A source who shared the invitation said the meeting was about how to avoid such a possibility.

We should expect that if conservatives make a decision, some big-dollar Republican donors will pitch in a few hundred thousand — or a few million — dollars to bankroll a Super PAC that tears down the man Newt Gignrich called a “Massachusetts Moderate” (Romney) the way he did Gingrich in Iowa.

Rick Perry refusing to leave the race makes that more difficult, however, as his presence keeps a lot of Texas Republican money and institutional support effectively on the sidelines. He also dilutes the votes of conservatives in key states like South Carolina, where a divided field could go Romney’s way. This is how John McCain won the state in 2008.

Gingrich remains in the race, but may prove to just be a suicide bomber thirsting for Romney’s blood.

Jon Huntsman is still kind of there, hoping to make a splash in New Hampshire. Ron Paul is actually there, but his Iowa finish shows he really has no shot at winning over Republicans, even if his campaign is much more professionally organized this time around.

And Bachmann is gone, her withdrawal speech laced with a record number of mentions of “Obamacare” and memorable mostly because she chided Obama for disappointing Benjamin Franklin.

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