WASHINGTON -- There are seven days until early voting begins in Iowa, 13 days until the first debate and 46 days left in this presidential race for Mitt Romney to change the dynamic of a campaign that by many indicators is tilting against him.
That, advisers to President Barack Obama acknowledge, is plenty of time.
But the burden rests to a remarkable degree directly on Romney and his ability to restore confidence to his campaign, become a more nimble candidate and clearly explain to voters why he would be the better choice to repair the economy and lead the nation in addressing its challenges at home and abroad.
The state-by-state landscape facing Romney is more daunting than he expected by this stage in the contest.
He anticipated, aides said, to be in a position of strength in at least some of the states that turned Democratic in 2008 for the first time in a generation, but few of them show signs of breaking decisively his way, and Obama still has more and clearer paths to 270 electoral votes.
And as Romney works to move beyond one of the most turbulent periods of his candidacy and a week dominated by the disclosure of remarks in which he said that nearly half of Americans do not pay taxes and see themselves as victims, he is starting to confront criticism from some members of his party who worry that his troubles will affect their own races.
"The presidential thing is bound to have an impact on every election,"
Anxiety among Republicans about the presidential race, the seeming lurching nature of Romney's campaign and his own miscues have spread far beyond Washington. Republican strategists across the country said in interviews that their candidates were being asked about Romney's comments on entitlements, creating an unwelcome potential trap for those in tough races.
Romney has sought to turn the issue against Obama, calling the president an advocate of redistributing wealth and emphasizing, "My campaign is about the 100 percent of America." But as the two candidates campaigned in Florida on Thursday, Obama focused on Romney's "47 percent" comments.
"My thinking is, maybe you haven't gotten around a lot," Obama said about Romney in an appearance at a Univision forum in Coral Gables.
There is a growing sense of frustration among Republicans that Romney has yet to take a commanding lead in any of the major battleground states -- especially North Carolina, which is tied with South Carolina for having the nation's fifth-worst unemployment rate, or Nevada, which has the nation's highest jobless rate, 12 percent.
In Ohio, Florida and Colorado, Republicans who support Romney's efforts said they were worried he was not campaigning enough in their states, and resources were not trickling into vital counties.
Officials at the Romney campaign said they believed some of the concern in the tossup states was being created by what they described as over-hyped news media reporting on Romney's latest missteps. The campaign has been meticulously thought out, they said, and its own supporters have yet to see late-stage activity that, by design, was not scheduled to kick until toward the very end of the race.
"We're making some very strategic decisions," said Rich Beeson, the campaign's political director. "And when we're coming down to the end, you'll see the governor everywhere he needs to be."