WASHINGTON — With the nomination sewn up, it's time for Mitt Romney to mend his Republican fences and reach out to those dubious voters who kept spurning him for Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and others. His goal is to excite the party's staunchest conservatives without alienating independent voters he'll need in the fall.

Romney predicts Republicans will naturally rally together against President Barack Obama. He told Fox News on Wednesday: "You will see our party more united that it's been in a long, long time."

And he says Americans' shared distress about the economy will bring other voters to his side.

But Romney can't afford to risk seeing the most conservative voters stay home on Election Day. Prominent social conservative Gary Bauer says both candidates will need "every last breathing voter."