Romney’s main message and credibility come from his prowess on economic issues, however, he has been forced off this message (green) to defend his position  in the race (yellow) and his character (blue)—largely a result of questions over his conservative credentials.

Candidate Behavior: Romney fails to maintain message focus as he is confronted with serious challenges by Santorum and a persistent Gingrich.  The net result is a major loss of message focus, in which his statements as reflected in major print media show a cyclical drop in focus on the economy from a high of  60% down to 5% last week as he is forced to talk about his campaign performance and defend himself on issues related to character that are the result of other candidates questioning his “conservatism”