Romney was the least worst out of the third-rate second team of candidates. And yet, according to Nate Silver, the GOP nominee is within 3% of the incumbent in the popular vote (although it looks much better for Obama in the Electoral College). Romney may be a nice guy with a nice family but it should be obvious to anyone that he's a brass-knuckled campaigner. Also obvious is that the Obama campaign is worried enough to pull its brass knuckles out. So that's where we are.
Since Romney doesn't have much of a message, his tack is to make this election a referendum on the president's performance in office. The Obama team, of course, denies such a referendum, but they're constrained because they can't brag about the economy, they can't brag about a massive and polarizing Obamacare law, they can't brag about the WAMI (except for offing bin Laden), and they can't brag about Hopenchange. What's left are Bright Shiny Distractions to veer attention away from Obama's mediocrity and Romney's success in the private sector, the Olympics and in a governor's office. The BSD's appear to be working.
Do I think Romney will win? No. The incumbent has too many advantages and the challenger is second-tier as a candidate.
Do I think Romney would be a better president? Yes, but not by much. He won't get his tax proposal passed and he won't repeal Obamacare. The former has already been shredded and the latter won't make it past a filibuster. But Romney actually does have a solid record of executive experience and he has a record of working with legislators on the other side of the aisle. Obama didn't (prior to getting elected) and doesn't, respectively. His record shows little success at working with political adversaries and he has no maverick in him. He's an uncourageous straight party line Democrat. Romney is little better, but still better, in my opinion.
Similar to 2008, the GOP candidate is behind at this stage and now he needs a good vice presidential pick to tip the scales. Who are the best picks? Here's what I think, from first to worst.
Colin Powell. A black man who actually does have executive experience before going into the nation's highest office. He probably has said or will say "no" if asked unless Romney can coax him to a "yes". "Colin, your country needs you, etc." His drawbacks are his moderate political views (to conservatives), and Dems will attack him for his UN testimony on Iraq. His pluses are many. Will Powell get the nod? Extremely doubtful.
Condi Rice. A black woman who actually does have executive experience before going into the nation's highest office. She has said "no" already but perhaps Romney could coax her to a "yes". Dems will attack her for working for Bush. Her pluses are many. Will she get the nod? Extremely doubtful.
Bobby Jindal. Smart and effective. He's younger than Obama but has a better job history than Barry did before getting elected to POTUS. He has already said he would decline if asked, but never say never.
Susanna Martinez. Smart and effective, with a good record as prosecutor and governor. Her favorable-unfavorable gap is solid, but she's in a fairly inconsequential state.
Marco Rubio. A gifted politician but a little young. But then, so was Barry back in the day. And Rubio can sway the vote in a swing state. I'm sure he's already been thoroughly oppo-researched. The first wave was earlier this year when the WA Post dug into his family history.
Nikki Haley. A promising governor but also a little young. Romney would do better with the above.
Brian Sandoval. Brian Sandoval is an ethnic minority with a decent resume, but my response upon hearing his name is "who dat?".
The Rest. If Romney picks one from this category, he will lose. That's how I see it.
Of course, my top picks are racial/ethnic minorities. Romney needs one of them to balance the cultural ticket. If there's ever a plasticky whitebread political candidate straight out of central casting, it's Romney. If he picks one of The Rest to run with him, then Romney just exposes himself all the more as a rich, privileged white dude who is running with a somewhat less rich and privileged but still white dude. He needs a little color in his campaign, both physically and figuratively.
EDIT: I added Nikki Haley after hitting "Save" and I made a few grammatical adjustments.