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Club for Growth president: Mitt Romney is 'a mixed bag'

Chris Chocola, president of the influential conservative group the Club for Growth, certainly wants Mitt Romney to defeat President Obama. He's just not sure what Romney would do once in office.

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Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth, speaks in Washington on Thursday.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor

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Chris Chocola, president of the influential free-enterprise and anti-tax group the Club for Growth, called GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney “a mixed bag” in a sign of the remaining challenges the party standard-bearer faces in energizing conservative Republicans.

Mr. Chocola, a former member of Congress, spoke Thursday at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters. When asked what his group’s expectations were for a potential Romney presidency, Chocola said, “our expectations are uncertainty.”  

He added: “That is the knock against Romney…. You don’t really know how he will serve.… There is always a question because of how he has served in the past, gives you some uncertainty as how he will serve in the future.”

"He has the potential to exceed expectations," Chocola said. "But it is a mixed bag, and that is his problem.... People really don't know."

The Club for Growth focuses its attention on backing what it considers the most conservative electable candidates in House and Senate races. Sometimes it targets Republican incumbents the group finds insufficiently in line with its anti-tax, free-trade views. “Our first focus is open, safe Republican seats. Our second focus is incumbents behaving badly,” Chocola said. 

The Club played a key role in the defeat of Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010 as well as helping fund the successful candidacy of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio that year. In the current election cycle, the Club’s financial backing played a key role in the come-from-behind victory of Senate candidate Ted Cruz in the Texas Republican primary.

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