"A lot of times the narratives that develop in July and August really do spill over into September and the one chance he has to break that is during the debates," he says.
David Woodard, a political science professor at Clemson University and a former GOP consultant, says the missteps could merely be part of the learning curve for the Romney campaign.
"A presidential campaign is unprecedented in the amount of ammunition you have to use and the pace of competition," he says, adding that the traditional start date of earnest campaigning, Labor Day, is now obsolete.
"Before the convention used to be a dead time for campaigns, but no more. Romney is having to mount a day-to-day campaign in a period when candidates used to rest," Woodard says. "If Obama keeps rising in approval and manages to put Romney on defense, he'll be in trouble - but not now."
Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.
- See the latest political cartoons
- Visit the U.S. News Election 2012 website for breaking coverage
- Follow U.S. News Debate Club on Twitter