Real estate mogul Donald Trump appeared to temper his expectations of Mitt Romney on Monday, saying the candidate he endorsed earlier this month could find it difficult to rally conservative support and lock up the nomination before the summer Republican National Convention.
"We'll have to see what happens. I think it's going to be a long process, and it could even go to the convention, which is shocking," Trump said in an interview with Fox News' "Fox and Friends."
According to Trump, Romney is having trouble convincing voters of his conservative credentials, which has opened opportunities for other candidates to gain traction.
"He is a conservative person, he is a conservative person in terms of his views, but it's not getting across in the way that it should be and other people are coming up that probably shouldn't be," Trump said.
"But you have to give them a lot of credit because in the case of Santorum, he's come from nothing, and now he's doing much better," Trump said on Monday.
He also defended Romney against criticism from fellow reality TV star and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who, during an interview with Fox News over the weekend, declared that she was still "not convinced" of Romney's conservatism.
"I am convinced, I think he's an excellent guy, and an excellent candidate, and frankly, I think she is a fantastic woman," Trump said. "She's not really convinced about anybody at this moment, not just Mitt, it was really anybody."
Palin has yet to endorse a candidate for the GOP nomination, though she's often come forward to sing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's praises before key contests in hopes that primary voters will keep the vetting process going.