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Top Romney adviser expects prolonged GOP fight

Were in a delegate contest, and viewed in that light, nothing has changed, adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said in a Wednesday interview on MSNBC. Mitt Romney still has a 3-to-1 lead in delegates. The delegate count is the same as it was yesterday.

Romneys political analyst also previewed what will likely emerge as the former Massachusetts governors latest critique of his Republican challengers, calling Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich two peas in a pod.

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Fehrnstrom characterized the pair as longtime Washington legislators who never really left Washington, and argued that either one of them being nominated would mean a general election between two insiders as one of them faced President Obama in November.

He also dismissed Santorum and Gingrich as simply part of a divided field attempting to challenge Romneys likely nomination.

Unlike what Newt Gingrich tried to persuade us all of, which is that this is a two-person race between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, its actually a race between Mitt Romney and a divided field, Fehrnstrom said. 

Romneys adviser also maintained that the campaign was not surprised by tough losses in Colorado, despite having spent time and money in the state.

The eventual nominee of our party is going to lose some contests, Fehrnstrom said. John McCain lost 19 states on his way to the nomination in 2008. The difference between Mitt Romney and the other candidates in the field is that we believe we have the organization, the resources and the stamina to go the distance and win the contests that are necessary to secure the delegates that will get us the nomination.

And while McCain struggled in his general-election matchup against then-Sen. Obama, Fehrnstrom remains optimistic that Romney will corral the support of conservatives who thus far have been reluctant to fully rally behind his campaign. 

Some of the same concerns about Mitt Romney and conservatives were raised before New Hampshire, before Florida, before Nevada, and in each of those contests you saw Mitt Romney won broadly, he won conservative voters, he won Tea Party voters, Fehrnstrom said. 

He also defended Romney from attacks leveled by his Republican opponents over Massachusetts requiring hospitals to carry the morning-after pill for rape victims — over the objections of the Catholic Church. Although Romney initially vetoed the bill, that veto was overridden by the state legislature, forcing Romney to enforce it as governor. Santorum especially had seized on comments reported by the Boston Globe in which Romney said he believed in his heart of hearts that rape victims should have access to the emergency contraceptive.

The statement that he made with respect to his heart of hearts, he said two things — that rape victims should have access to Plan B contraception or information on where to get it, Fehrnstrom said. Now the latter part of the governors statement is consistent with Catholic practice ... so theres nothing unusual about the governors statement in that regard.