Washington (CNN) – The Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, a leading social conservative, tells CNN that conservative activists are so unenthusiastic about Mitt Romney, many are likely to turn their grass roots efforts away from the presidential race and towards Congress – specifically, putting the Senate in Republican hands.
"It's difficult for us to back a candidate our constituents don't believe in and aren't excited about," Perkins said in a telephone interview, speaking about Romney.
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In January, leading conservative activists met in Texas and decided to rally around Rick Santorum as their GOP candidate for president.
Perkins said in recent weeks, as it has become clear Santorum had an uphill fight, he has talked to several social conservatives about "what people would do if it came down to having an option who doesn't excite us," meaning Romney.
Perkins said the consensus was to turn their "emphasis" to campaigns for Congress rather than campaigning for Romney.
As for Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul each saying they now intend to be the conservative alternative to Romney, Perkins said he believes both will pick up some Santorum supporters, but he also underscored that Santorum had a different kind of appeal to social conservatives than anyone else in the race.