Pledges of support from powerful Republicans last week may have edged Mitt Romney closer to the GOP presidential nomination, but the former Massachusetts governor still struggles to fire the imaginations of most in his party — even the coveted endorsements from former PresidentGeorge H.W. Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida seemed underwhelming in tone.

Mr. Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who also endorsed Mr. Romney last week, focused less on his qualifications for the presidency than on the vulnerabilities of President Obama.

“[Mr. Romney‘s] challenge, assuming he gets the nomination, is to create more enthusiasm among the Republican base,” said Frank M. Newport of Gallup. “Obviously, he needs a Herman Cain injection of charisma.”

The good news for the Republican front-runner, Mr. Newport said, is that Republicans in general are more enthusiastic about this election — specifically about ousting the incumbent Democrat — than they were in 2008.

“The bad news is, when you mention [Romney‘s] name they go, ‘eh,’” he said.

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