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?

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 DurbinDick DurbinRepublicans seek to lower odds of a shutdown No. 2 Senate Democrat opposes Trump's Supreme Court pick The Hill’s Whip List: 30 Dems are against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE and Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnDon't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways 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.