They had already chosen Romney as their leader. Notice that the GOP elites were hostile to anyone they perceived as a threat (e.g.: Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and even Ron Paul) but there were no attacks on Santorum. Santorum is a Karl Rove Republican and a socialist. He is a supporter of Arlen Specter.
The GOP elites would rather have a Democrat in power than a Tea Party candidate. That is why the Republican establishment has opposed the Tea Party in elections.
Those in power always results others seeking their power and party hierarchies are comprised of those in power, the power that comes from winning elections.
If the Tea Party continues as it has, it won’t be too long before the are the GOP “elites.”
This election will help continue that process.