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Mr. Paul said that pro-bailout, pro-government dependency vote “was sort of like what we are laughing at in Greece.”

But other conservatives, including some governors, insist Mr. Romney’s comments insult potential GOP voters whose jobs were saved by the bailout.

What concerns social conservatives is that if GOP candidates stop talking about abortion and gay marriage except in politically safe language, the party will drift toward a more libertarian stand on those issues — which is exactly what many GOP women and young Republicans would love to see happen.

Since blue-collar Democrats and religious conservatives helped elect Richard Nixon twice to the presidency, the alliance of libertarian-leaning and traditional-values conservatives has held up with some — but not overwhelming — reliability. Since 1968, there have been seven GOP presidential wins, five Democratic victories.

But the Democratic-voting constituencies are growing, and Republicans like Mr. Jindal argued in Las Vegas and on the Sunday talk shows this week that unless Republicans make inroads among those Democratic-voting constituencies, the GOP is headed for decline.

Ben Wolfgang contributed to this report.