Romney Campaign Gains Momentum Going Into First Debate

Some analysts and political pundits argue that Mitt Romney had a rough September and was never able to overcome President Obama's perceived "bump" in the polls following the Democratic National Convention. Now some of these same pundits are concluding that Romney is gaining more momentum going into the home stretch.

In an article in Wednesday's "Playbook," Politico columnist Mike Allen highlights a few items that have helped Romney this week.

"A number of things broke his way in the past 24 hours. None of them, alone, suggests anything profound," writes Allen. "But in totality, they offer Republicans reason for hope coming out of tonight:

"1) The Biden gaffe referring to "a middle class that has been buried the last four years." Voters seem aware of who was in charge during those years.

2) The 2007 videotape of then-Senator Obama that surfaced last night and rocketed through right-wing media. The N.Y. Times and WashPost ignored it on their homepages this morning, but conservatives will force the MSM and voters to reckon with it. No doubt, some of the quotes could be used against President Obama.

3) A new NBC-WSJ-Marist poll shows Virginia and Florida tightening, and there is evidence that Romney efforts to target Hispanics in swing states is blunting Obama's edge.

4) It all comes down to tonight. If Romney rocks, he will put concerns about message and his campaign team to rest for a few days -- and put tougher attention back on Obama."

Although Romney has lagged in recent polls, a few of the latest surveys show his numbers inching northward. In the latest NBC-WSJ-Marist nationwide poll of likely voters, Obama is leading Romney 49-46 percent. However, the same poll shows Virginia and Florida to be a statistical dead heat. Obama does hold a solid lead in Ohio, leading Romney 51 to 43 percent.

"Do I think Obama has an 8-point lead in Ohio? No, I don't, I think it's closer to 4 or 5 points but would like to see it much closer," said Georgia political consultant and lobbyist Raymon White.

But not every analyst agrees that Romney is on an upswing.

Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics thinks Romney's recent "gains" may be more of a confirmation of his existing support. Kondik was asked if he felt Romney was in a better position this week.

"Not really. I feel like if he's tightening things up at all, he's just bringing in voters are going to vote for him anyway," said Kondik. "Romney may be in a similar position than John Kerry was in during the 2004 race when he did okay in the debates but couldn't tie things up in the end."

Does Kondik think a good performance by Romney in the upcoming debates will do the trick?

"I don't know. We'll see," Kondik said. "He needs to not only move his numbers up but also Obama's down. I need to see him break even in the RCP [Read Clear Politics] average."

Other analysts see a chance for Romney to challenge Obama on the recent events in Libya and his poor record associated with a soaring deficit and a stimulus plan that did not produce many private sector jobs.

Tonight's first debate in Denver, Colo., will begin at 9 p.m. ET. It will last 90 minutes with no breaks.

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