His commanding debate performance gives him an opening, but Romney still has little room for error.
DENVER -- Republican nominee Mitt Romney hit his stride Wednesday night. Where President Obama was flat, Romney was energetic. He was also prepared, aggressive and at times, persuasive.
But the real challenge starts now.
Time and time again over the course of this campaign, Romney has surged only to step on his own momentum. And with 33 days before Election Day and early voting well underway, Romney has got to massage a solid debate performance into a winning streak.
"There's zero room for error because he's already behind," said Patrick Murphy, a Colorado-based Republican strategist. "It could be end of the Barack Obama momentum or the beginning of Romney momentum."
- 5 Reasons It's Too Soon to Write Off Obama
- Medicare: Obama's Only Debate Bright Spot
- Why Diversity Is Lagging in Hill Offices
It could be. But Romney has got to seize his most pointed attacks from the debate -- interrupting the president to remind him "but you've been president for four years!" -- and hit that message hard, again and again. Romney should keep up the poignant references to ordinary, struggling people -- the jobless Dayton woman who "grabbed his arm," the Denver mother who lost her home, the overtaxed small electronics business owner in St. Louis -- as way to diffuse the widely held perception that he's out of touch with ordinary people.