Readers, like the GOP itself, were divided on whether Mitt Romney will come back in Michigan and Arizona after defeats on February 7. In the pro-Romney was Yahright:

Probably still Romney’s race to lose, but unless he gets a major policy spark (e.g., creative tax reform), or appears to make an early capture of a conservative whisperer such as [Sen. Marco] Rubio as VP, it could be nip and tuck with Santorum. Doubtful that Santorum’s tense persona will wear well with independents under increased, sustained pressure. Santorum is fine man and strong workhorse, but it’s laughable to hear him talk about being a leader. Two terms in the Senate, followed by more lawyering and a Fox News stint? Impressive preparation for the most important job in the world only in terms of comparisons to Obama, who is an utter failure in the first real job of his life. Anyone who knows how Romney turned the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics from a national embarrassment to a polished gem of national pride knows that he is the only person not named Ryan or Christie who can fix our fiscal mess.

DRW1960 writes: “Romney will come back. The the new ‘flavor of the month’ is now being vetted as all of the others have. Romney was ‘the conservative choice’ in 2008. He is the only candidate that hasn’t spent decades in Washington. He is the only one that actually ran a state and was GOOD at it. He is the only candidate that has any business experience. He knows how to turn things around. Some of our candidates may appeal to the ‘far right conservative’ voters, but we need someone that can appeal to ALL voters in order to beat Obama. Romney is that person.”

Others noted the pummeling Romney is getting in the media:

If one scans twitter or talk shows, self-identified conservatives distrust Romney for being: a late comer to social conservatism, a Blue State governor, Romneycare architect, or as a late comer to self identifying as a conservative. These all contribute to “anyone but Mitt” being viewed as the real conservative deal.

That’s why many Republicans seem to find Mitt’s sins as unforgivable, while Newt [Gingrich’s] K street lobbying, crony capitalism, cap & trade and individual mandate dalliances; and Rick’s big government and big labor infatuations are not becoming deal breakers for them.

Romney’s critics note that Santorum is the strongest of the anti-Romney competitors, and that Romney has run out of gas. Senavifan argues: “Santorum doesn’t have the baggage of Gingrich. He’s not as big a target for attacks. He really ripped Romney in the beauty contests this week.” Dave57 contends, “Romney is done. How did he lose all three primaries on Tuesday when Santorum had so little money to campaign? The voters picked a man they didn’t even know over Romney. In Colorado in 2008 Romney got 41%. . .this year. . .17%.”

Shempiscurly thinks Republicans should be hoping that “Santorum’s just viable enough to force a brokered convention that is saved by the airlifting in of a Christie or a Daniels or a Ryan or a Bush — ya know, someone who actually has a chance of beating Obama but also of being a half decent president as well.”

My own take is that Santorum, like Gingrich and other competitors before him, is now the vessel of the not-Romney sentiment. The real test will come as voters begin to learns his pluses and minuses and, most importantly, see if he reacts both with toughness and good humor in the vetting process. As for Romney, if he can pick up where he left off at CPAC — explaining why he is a conservative and describing his conservative policy proposals — he’ll be formidable.