Editor's Note: This piece was co-authored by Ford O'Connell.
Less than one month until the 2012 Iowa Caucuses, Mitt Romney finds himself again in the uncomfortable position of looking over his shoulder at the candidate with momentum. While in 2008, that candidate was Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.), now it is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).This time, though, Team Romney should be scared.
Counting on Gingrich to self-destruct, like the other candidates who preceded him, is not a sound campaign strategy if Romney wants to eventually garner the necessary support needed to win the nomination.
Having spent the better part of the last half-decade campaigning for the Oval Office with relentlessness and a single-minded focus, one would think that Mitt Romney would be hitting his stride right about now. And while Romney has significant advantages over the rest of the GOP presidential field in terms of fundraising and campaign operations, this is simply just not the case.
Nowhere was this more evident than last week's interview with Fox News' Bret Baier. In the exchanges between Romney and Baier, the former Massachusetts governor became angry and increasingly uncomfortable as Baier asked direct, but pertinent questions about his record, particularly RomneyCare.
When Romney quipped: "This is an unusual interview," and broke out into an awkward laugher, it was quite clear that Romney was failing to hide his contempt for being asked about his own record. At that moment, he was uncomfortable in his own skin - and it showed.
If Romney wants to win the nomination, he will need to do more than just continually tout that he is the best-positioned candidate in the GOP field to take on President Obama.
Several candidates have surged in the polls over the last several months precisely because Romney sounds like Jan Brady selfishly complaining about her sister older sister Marcia getting all of the attention when it comes to why Republicans should cast a vote for him in 2012.
For a lot of Republican primary voters, 2008 and the nomination of John McCain is still fresh on their minds. Less than four years ago, establishment Republicans signaled to the GOP base that they had better get in line behind McCain, because he was the most electable, and begrudgingly the base eventually followed suit.
Even with their disgust for President Obama, the GOP base is not likely to make the same mistake twice, unless Romney demonstrates himself to be worthy of their support. He has to give people a reason to vote FOR him, not just wait until everyone else explodes. Because what happens if one Romney competitor doesn't self-implode?