'Safe is fatal'

North Carolina?

We all know Mitt Romney is behind in the key battlegrounds, with every recent poll showing President Obama leading where it takes to win and even some national surveys putting his approval at the key 50 percent mark. But a new NBC-Marist poll, released Thursday evening, shows Romney is behind not only in New Hampshire and Nevada, but in North Carolina as well. Sure, it is only by 2 points, but behind in North Carolina — a state Obama won by 14,000 in a historic wave?

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Romney is now solidly behind in Ohio and Virginia, two states everyone assumes he must win to be president. There is one more, terribly narrow path for him — through Nevada, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida — and that would clearly require North Carolina in his column. Right now Romney is behind, if only slightly in some cases, in every one of these six states.

Denial still runs deep in a campaign that asserted this week, albeit it on background, that it is within the margin of error in Ohio. Conservatives are panicked that Romney's statement last weekend, that the campaign "doesn't need a turnaround," indicates his head is buried two feet under the sand for good. Perhaps, however, the phone calls, emails, lectures, suggestions, tips, tricks and strategies that have bombarded the campaign will sink in before Wednesday, when Romney debates Obama in Denver. Something clearly needs to happen that night.

Charles Krauthammer warned Romney in the Washington Post Friday in his column "Go large, Mitt" that "safe is fatal" when you are behind. And he urged him, as so many others have done, to go large. "About a foreign policy in ruins. About an archaic, 20th-century welfare state model that guarantees 21st-century insolvency. And about an alternate vision of an unapologetically assertive America abroad unafraid of fundamental structural change at home. It just might work. And it's not too late."

What say you, Mitt?


HOW DOES ROMNEY TURN IT AROUND? Ask A.B. returns Thursday, Oct. 4. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.