"That's not the debate that people want to hear right now," said Rae Lynne Chornenky, the president of the National Federation of Republican Women. "Those are not visions that Americans look for in their leaders."
Former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich, a surrogate for Romney, suggested this week that Romney will be able to erase some of his more extreme views on women's issues once his conservative opponents are out of the picture.
"When you have one-on-one general election, and they see, again, are reminded of Governor Romney's real views, that gender gap will dissipate rather quickly," Ehrlich said on CNN.
The "gender gap" — the difference between how men and women view Romney and Obama — favors the president overwhelmingly now. Polls out this week gave Obama a 25-point lead over Romney among women, and notable support from women in swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida that will be key to the election.
The Romney campaign will creak open a window into its strategy after Easter when it's revealed where the former Massachusetts governor will be campaigning before Pennsylvania's primary on April 24. The suburbs of Philadelphia, for example, are home to hordes of independent voters who have been targeted by both parties.
A recent poll by Quinnipiac reported that while Romney trails Santorum in Pennsylvania by a few points, he leads the state's native son by 16 points among moderates, and is about even with him among women.
"Pennsylvania is a critical swing state, so the Republican primary winner wants to make a good showing in April to bolster chances for success in November," Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac pollster, said in the survey.