Romney (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)When Chris Christie decided not to run for president in 2012, the media spectacle cast light on the dueling storyline of the Republican race so far: The party's effort to find a candidate who can beat President Obama next year--while also finding a candidate who is not Mitt Romney.
The former Massachusetts governor was the early frontrunner for the nomination, even before he officially entered the race. Long before the polls closed on Election Day four years ago, Romney was perceived by fellow Republicans as the man to beat heading into the 2012, in part because of his experience of having run a national campaign before.
The sentiment was even shared by the political advisers to President Obama, who have long considered Romney a serious threat to Obama's re-election.
But over the past few months, Romney has stood awkwardly by as his fellow Republicans have placed their hopes on countless alternatives. That includes party stars like Christie and Jeb Bush, who have declined to run, and rivals like Michele Bachmann, who shot to the top of the polls during the summer but has since flamed out.
Rick Perry was cast as the party's potential savior, but his star has fallen in recent weeks, amid questions about his ideology and his ability to beat Obama. Now the race seems to be back where it began, with the view that the nomination is Romney's to lose.
So, what does Romney do now?
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