Tune in to see . . . whether anything about the Restore Our Future Super PAC filing breaks through the news coverage.
MARCH 6: SUPER TUESDAY
If the campaign turns into a "long siege" — as the battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton did — this will be a critical day. Because of the proportional allotment of delegates, Romney can't afford to get blown out in Southern states such as Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia.
Meanwhile, a long siege will probably ultimately be decided in the industrial Northern states. Ohio, which votes on Super Tuesday, will be a huge early test of that vote.
Tune in to see . . . whether the media are focusing on winners of states, or starting to talk about delegate counts. Also, whether Romney sounds like he's switching from conservative primary candidate to moderate general-election candidate.
JUNE 5: CALIFORNIA PRIMARY
If it's a real dogfight, it could all come down to this: the most populous state in the country (and most expensive in which to campaign and advertise), with Romney desperately trying on a district-by-district basis to exceed the magic 1150-delegate tally to seize the nomination he's been seeking for eight years.
Tune in to see . . . whether his eternally cheery wife, Ann, begins to take on the pained look of someone whose husband has spent $100 million on a nominating campaign.
JULY 27, AUGUST 3: US ECONOMIC REPORTS
On July 27, the federal government will release the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) estimate for the second quarter of 2012; a week later comes the July employment report. These will be the last two major gauges of the country's economic health before Romney (assuming he's the nominee) kicks off the fall campaign at his nominating convention. If the numbers are bad, he'll want the convention to focus almost entirely on the terrible Obama economy. If the numbers are relatively good — say, more than three percent GDP growth, and unemployment below eight percent — Romney will have to go to the No Apology argument that Obama is an America-hating, terrorist-appeasing sissy.
Tune in to see . . . whether Romney saturates the media, seeking out every camera to talk about the economic reports, or if he slips off to London (see immediately below).
JULY 27-AUGUST 12 | LONDON OLYMPIC GAMES | Typically, the Olympics is a quiet fortnight for the campaigns, which have no hope of getting the public's attention. But Romney is not like other presidential candidates — he is Mr. Olympics, a part of his biography that he is likely to want to emphasize over, say, Mr. Leveraged Buyout. Of course, he will insist that he doesn't want to politicize the Games or use them to any personal advantage. But, he would be a poor self-marketer to miss this opportunity to connect himself in the public mind with the most popular event in the universe. And Romney is a very, very good self-marketer.
Tune in to see . . . how much TV time Romney can take up insisting that he isn't looking for media exposure.