Not only do we not have a great candidate in the race, we have two guys who both have some flaws. Newt Gingrich is one long train of baggage cars. Santorum is running as Mr. Rogers, he wants to be your neighbor. Amazingly there is also Ron Paul trying to be taken seriously, and in some instances he succeeds (which should give us all stomach cramps).
The Republican establishment is not conservative. We have seen this proven time and time again. The GOP bigwigs and the Democrat bigwigs are nearly identical, they go to the same country clubs and they attend the same parties. They agree on a lot more issues than they disagree. These are not friends of the work-a-day grassroots Americans who cherish freedom and want to make prosperity possible for their and everyone else's children.
Mitt Romney is like Dole, McCain or HW Bush, who only won because of 8 years of being Ronald Reagans' Vice President. Romney is the designated loser of the 2012 campaign, designated by his own party bigwigs. He doesn't mind losing any more than McCain or Dole seemed to mind. They are 'moderates' ('with progressive views' in Romney's case) and they know the game and they are comfortable with it. Remember how John McCain was assuring Republican voters that Obama was a good man and would be a fine President.... weeks before the election? The fix was in.
It is long since past time for the conservatives of the party to form a party-within-a-party. A party with its own funding, recruitment ansd campaign mechanisms. A party that can hold nominating conventions across the country, like super-caucuses, to determine a single candidate to run in the GOP primary. Any other conservative who decides to run after losing this process gets the hand.
If we want to have a conservative party in America again, then we will have to do something like this. We cannot expect that a conservative party will just magically appear out of thin blue sky. Going third party will simply become a macro version of this primary campaign and give the Democrats everything they ever wanted.
I am not sure there will even be elections in 2016 should Obama win re-election, but I know that if we want to have a real opposition party to the two-party-one-party system that we have now, we should begin building that party-within-a-party right now.