If Obama wins tonight, as now seem likely if current trends continue, Romney and Republicans face three heart-wrenching "what if"s:

1) What if Romney had communicated his "compassionate conservative" message of the first debate right after he clinched the nomination — or even at the national convention? And if he had, would the GOP’s extreme "Tea Party" base have done in Romney, as they caused the loss of the Senate in 2010 — the suicide squad of the Republican Party?

2) What if Romney had talked about his record in Massachusetts with pride — working with Democrats and proving he could find bipartisan compromises, including healthcare?

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3) What if Romney had endorsed Simpson-Bowles and seized the center on the $16 trillion national debt as a moral issue — endorsing the position taken by Illinois liberal Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDems mull big changes after Brazile bombshell After Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Bipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program MORE and Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnFormer GOP senator: Trump has a personality disorder Lobbying World -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground MORE — leaving President Obama disagreeing with his own home-state senator?

Did he pander and flip-flop his way to do what he had to do to win the GOP nomination? Of course.

But why did he not pivot back to the center-right after he clinched the nomination — much less at the national convention — instead of waiting till October in the first debate?

I have no idea.