The battle for the Republican presidential nomination moves forward on three fronts Tuesday as Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri hold separate contests. GOP strategists say front-runner Mitt Romney could stumble in any one of them.
But after Tuesday, there will be no major contests for three weeks, giving the candidates a chance to regroup.
The week-long and low-key Maine caucuses end Saturday, and Maine is not a top priority for any of the campaigns. After that there will be no nominating primaries or caucuses until the Arizona and Michigan primaries on Feb. 28. Only one debate is scheduled, on Feb. 22 in Mesa, Arizona.
In the meantime, the candidates will use TV ads, social media, speeches, news interviews and policy papers to spread their messages. And they will try to build their organizations. In addition, they will continue to attack President Obama as a failed leader.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is expected to win the Colorado caucuses, but may have trouble in Minnesota and Missouri, where hard-line conservatives have gained influence in the GOP and remain skeptical of his commitment to the ideology of the right.
The other three candidates—former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul—are trying to figure out ways to slow Romney's momentum.