Or so thinks Jonathan Chait at NY Mag:
Tonight’s debate saw the return of the Mitt Romney who ran for office in Massachusetts in 1994 and 2002. He was obsessive about portraying himself as a moderate, using every possible opening or ambiguity — and, when necessary, making them up — to shove his way to the center. Why he did not attempt to restore this pose earlier, I cannot say. Maybe he can only do it in debates. Or maybe conservatives had to reach a point of absolute desperation over his prospects before they would give him the ideological space. In any case, he dodged almost every point in the right wing canon in a way that seemed to catch Obama off guard.
Sam Stein contemplates Romney’s 2002 template:
Then, as now, he dealt with a deficit of trust among women, calls to release tax returns and questions about his years in private equity. Over an intense monthlong period featuring five debates, he persevered. And for those Republicans worried about the current state of the presidential race, a look back offers some relief.