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But the big question remains: Is Mitt Romney tough enough and steel-spined enough to withstand what this town does to a guy once he becomes part of it? Will he remain unapologetically true to his current positions and priorities or will he deal them away in endless compromise?

Until Mr. Romney manages to assure conservative voters that his principles are iron-clad, it is a good thing to have businessman Herman Cain and former Sen. Rick Santorum rallying in the polls and carrying the banner of conservatism.

Charles Hurt’s column appears Wednesday. He can be reached at