Phoenix (CNN) - Randy Pullen, a former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party and a prominent supporter of Mitt Romney in the state, said Tuesday his candidate must intensify his efforts to win over conservatives at the grassroots level or risk losing the GOP nomination fight.
Pullen told CNN that Arizona is dangerously close to slipping out of Romney's reach, though he still predicted a victory here for the former Massachusetts governor in next Tuesday's primary.
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"He is certainly not ahead by 20 points like he was a few weeks ago after Florida," Pullen said. "On election day, I think Rick Santorum is going to win. But I think early balloting is going to Mitt. I think enough votes have already been cast."
After watching Santorum address a mid-day luncheon sponsored by the Maricopa County Republican Party, Pullen said he admired the Pennsylvanian's easy rapport with conservative activists and wished Romney had similar instincts.
"They really like the guy," Pullen said of Santorum. "You saw the speech today. It comes from the heart. Santorum connects with people. Unfortunately, my guy has a hard time doing that."
Romney needs to spend more time "connecting with the people on the grassroots level," he said.
"He has all the right endorsements," Pullen said of Romney. "He is getting money from all the right people. So he has done all that. But they somehow forgot that these people are the ones that vote. Their strategy has been to play one candidate off another, but it never really got them to a majority."
"My guy needs to come out and connect with the people and just lay it out there," he added. "Mitt gets too concerned about what he is saying and how he is saying it as opposed to connecting with people. I know he can do it, he just has to make the effort."
Pullen said that a Romney loss in Michigan, which votes on Tuesday along with Arizona, would be a "devastating" defeat.
"That would be very difficult to explain, how you lose your home state," Pullen said, though he claimed a loss in Michigan could be offset by a win in Arizona.