With the imminent collapse of Herman Cain's campaign and a surging Newt Gingrich, the Republican primary field is closer than it's been in months to anointing an anti-Mitt Romney candidate.
If President Obama's team wants to cause Romney some real headaches, now is the time to take a page from another Democrat who faced the prospect of a difficult Republican opponent -- former California Gov. Gray Davis.
It's a playbook at least one senior Obama adviser knows well. After all, he wrote it.
In 2002, Davis ran for re-election with terrible approval ratings, a lousy economy and a very strong opponent in Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. Riordan was a liberal Republican who would have given even Democratic-leaning Californians a palatable option in replacing Davis in the governor's mansion.
But Riordan had to get through a Republican primary first, a primary in which he faced the much more conservative Bill Simon. Riordan had better name recognition and led early polling by wide margins. But Davis and his team meddled in the GOP primary, spending $10 million on advertisements against Riordan before Republican voters headed to the polls. Those ads killed Riordan's momentum; in the March 2002 primary, Simon beat Riordan, 49 percent to 31 percent.