Dallas (CNN) – GOP leaders from around the country who gathered in Dallas this week for a meeting of the Republican National Committee view their field of 2012 presidential contenders as unsettled, unpredictable and perhaps a bit uninspiring.
But there was also consensus at the meeting that their eventual nominee won't have to worry about galvanizing Republican support in the general election, a dilemma the party faced in 2008 when the GOP was burdened by an unpopular president and a nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, who had a famously rocky relationship with conservatives.
The reason for their optimism this time around? President Barack Obama.
West Virginia GOP Chairman Mike Stuart, for one, replied with a flat "no" when asked if voters in his state were excited about the current roster of Republicans seeking the presidential nomination.
A backer of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney when he ran 2008, Stuart said he is now second-guessing his support because of the similarities between Obama's sweeping health care reform bill and the one signed into law earlier by Romney in Massachusetts.
Yet Stuart predicted that Republicans would have no problem rallying behind Romney or any other GOP candidate because of fierce grassroots opposition to the Obama administration.
"Republicans in West Virginia are united behind whoever will run against Obama," Stuart told CNN. "There is so much frustration about the Obama policies."
In nearly two dozen interviews at the RNC's three-day strategy session, party insiders expressed some measure of anxiety about the early field of candidates, highlighted by Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
While several Republicans groused privately about the current crop of GOP candidates, most seemed to agree that their chances of reclaiming the White House remain strong thanks to a resurgent GOP base.
"I am not seeing lightning striking for any of the candidates at this point, but Republicans are eager to find the right candidate to coalesce around,” said Nevada Republican Chairman Bob List, adding reference to the president: “There is a very high voltage current running around the electorate saying we need to take this guy out."
There also was a shared belief - or hope, in some cases - that the early field of candidates will grow larger.
Some party leaders in Dallas remained hopeful that fresh-faced Republicans like Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will renege on promises not to run, though neither man seems likely to do so.
Others said Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who plans to make a decision about a White House bid in the coming weeks, would bring serious fiscal credentials and a genuine fundraising ability to the race.
Two GOP heavyweights - Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Texas Gov. Rick Perry - visited the RNC meeting and predicted that more candidates would join the race in the coming weeks or months.
Barbour, who flirted with a presidential bid until deciding not to run last month, told CNN that he wants Daniels, a friend and political confidante, to pursue the nomination.
Perry, himself a subject of frequent presidential chatter, noted that "there are still a number of folks out there who have not made a decision" about running.
Republicans from New York and Florida, two hotbeds for political fundraising, said top GOP contributors in their states are still eyeing the field with caution, even with just seven months left until the Iowa caucuses officially kick off the nomination fight.
"It's kind of a mixed-bag right now," said Florida GOP Chairman Dave Bitner. "The donors are taking a wait-and-see approach."
New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox said Romney has a leg up on his competitors among the Wall Street donor set. Romney has assembled a formidable fundraising team and raised more than $10 million in a single day this week, a warning shot to his potential rivals for the nomination.
But Cox said Daniels and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have the potential to make inroads with some of New York's leading financiers. He also suggested some power-brokers might try to draft Perry or Christie into the race.
"The donors are still sorting the candidates out now and they honestly haven't seen a lot of them show up yet and talk to them," he said.
Ohio GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine acknowledged that the candidates are not yet stirring passions within the Republican base.
But he said the wide-open nature of the race, along with new primary calendar rules designed to lengthen the nominating process, could ultimately help the Republican nominee in the same way a protracted primary fight helped boost Democratic grassroots energy in 2008
"This is a process where, ultimately, Republican voters in 25 to 30 states will have an opportunity to pick the nominee, instead of just automatically picking the guy who finished second in the last race, like we usually do," DeWine said. "All the various factions of the party are paying attention or getting engaged."
In the end, Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere predicted, Republicans will be energized for a fight with Obama, no matter who tops the ticket.
"It's the Super Bowl of politics," Villere said. "We are ready for it."