Mitt Romney is picking up where he left off last week, collecting the endorsements of three more conservative Republicans, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Majority House Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Al Cardenas, head of the American Conservative Union.

These in and of themselves won’t get Rick Santorum to exit. But the cumulative impact will make it hard for him to raise money and continue to project an air of viability that is essential to persuade voters to cast their ballots for him.

Romney, meanwhile, is raising money in California. Look for him to increasingly focus on President Obama.

I imagine he’s going to want to weigh on another hot-mike gaffe by the president, as ABC News reported:

At the tail end of his 90 minute meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev Monday, President Obama said that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with controversial issues such as missile defense, but incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to give him “space.”

The exchange was picked up by microphones as reporters were let into the room for remarks by the two leaders.

The exchange:

President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.

President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you …

President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

It’s helpful to have a vivid illustration of this, but is there anyone who thinks Obama, should he get a second term, wouldn’t run wild with policies and positions that the majority of the electorate oppose? Otherwise, he’d roll them out now, of course.

It’s remarkable, actually, that Obama could be any more flexible with Russia after the election than he’s already been under the “reset” that is indistinguishable from appeasement. He praised the rigged Russian elections, helped get Russia into the World Trade Organization, has tried to slow down human rights legislation aimed at Russian perpetrators and yanked missile defense sites out of Eastern Europe. One can only imagine how much worse things would get if he no longer had to worry about public opinion and all those troublesome human rights groups nagging him.

The same is, of course, true on everything from gay marriage to Israel policy to taxes. Obama took off the mask of moderation in an effort to woo back his base, but in doing so he gave the rest of the electorate real reason to worry about a second term. And conservatives shouldn’t bank on Republicans in Congress to stand up to a reelected president (especially if they lose seats in the House and fail to get the Senate). Elections are taken as mandates by elected officials and the media (even if the message is less clear than the winner would have us believe).

In sum, the election is not simply a referendum on President Obama’s actions to date; it’s essentially a blank check for the president’s second term. Romney should be asking wary independent and moderates: Is there a scintilla of a chance that Obama would be less liberal in a second term?