Byron York

Having Romney campaign in person is particularly important now because he's trying to craft a more effective message. Romney has been under fire recently, especially from conservatives, for failing to give the public a clear picture of what he will do should he become president. Recently the campaign announced it is working to fill in the gaps in the message.

"We think the American people are looking forward to hearing how we can turn this economy around," top Romney adviser Ed Gillespie told reporters in what has to be one of the great understatements of the campaign. "The timing is right to reinforce the specifics, more specifics, about the Romney plan for a stronger middle class."

To many observers, Romney's moves look like scrambling. The campaign, having let Obama define Romney and keep him on the defensive during much of May and June and July, is still struggling to find itself. "The Democrats are fighting for their lives," says Caddell. "Republicans are acting like this is a garden party. There's a difference in mentality that I find stunning."

Now, Romney is battling a new distraction after media reports that some of his aides are sniping at one another, presenting a picture of discord in the campaign at a time when it needs to be running smoothly. "I've got a terrific campaign," Romney told Telemundo recently. "My senior campaign people work extraordinarily well together. I work well with them. Our campaign is doing well."

But not well enough, by any measure.

Romney aides say they expect to see him on the stump more as the election draws closer. By then, there will be fewer fundraising demands and Romney will concentrate fully on campaigning. But at less than 50 days away, with early voting starting in some places, the election is already pretty close. Where is Mitt right now?

Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner