Even so, Romney needs to do more than spell out Obama's many failings in office — those are evident, yet haven't moved the needle. Instead he must find a way, in the stilted format used in the debates, to break out of sound-bite mode and land a few haymakers.
Ronald Reagan did that late in the 1980 campaign, when he faced off against incumbent President Jimmy Carter. He dismissed Carter's whining about the state of the times by injecting, “There you go again.” He asked those watching the debate on television, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Reagan got his answer a few days later when he won the election.
Republicans have been asking voters the same question in recent months. The answer is most definitely no. By just about any measure we're not better off than we were four years ago. Romney needs to continue to drive home that point while highlighting how he will change things for the better.
These three debates don't offer the best forum for that, but they do provide Romney the biggest audience he'll have between now and Election Day. If he's bold and blunt, he can indeed change the narrative for the better.