TAKING A PAGE from the playbook on his late move on young immigrant visas, Mitt Romney needs to unload his wingnuttery and embrace his alter ego, Governor Mitt from Massachusetts, then offer a mea culpa for falling off the right-wing cliff.

Don’t worry about Barack Obama in the debate.

The troubles Romney has are real and requires an epic Etch-a-Sketch moment.

In Ohio, Obama holds a 51 percent to 43 percent lead among likely voters, which is relatively unchanged from his 50 percent to 43 percent lead three weeks ago. In Florida and Virginia, Obama and Romney are statistically tied, with the Democrat clinging to a slight edge. In Florida, Obama leads 47 percent to 46 percent, down from 49 percent to 45 percent in mid-September. And in Virginia, Obama is up 48 percent to 46 percent. Last month, Obama led 49 percent to 45 percent in the Old Dominion state. – NBC/WSJ Poll: Obama holds lead in Ohio; statistical tie in Va., Fla.

One note on Virginia, a Roanoke College poll has Obama pulling away 47% to 39%, which stuns me considering where Obama was a year ago, but is great news for Democrats considering Tim Kaine is also besting wacko wingnut George Allen, 47% to 37% in the same poll. If correct, the large lead is no doubt helped by the gender gap, many women reacting to the Republican war on women in the state, which continues through A.G. Ken Cuccinelli.

Or maybe all the polls are wrong, as Team Romney and conservatives want everyone to buy.

Mitt Romney’s troubles aren’t tied to Obama. They’re tied to Mitt Romney. His political ineptitude and inability to buy the baloney he’s been pushing since he tried to convince the Republican Tea Party base that he was one of them, which no one believes, has failed abysmally.

Now that he’s learned he can only lose the presidency by continuing this farce he needs the mother of all hail Mary’s.

It would go something like this, the opposite of what David Brooks suggested, Mitt would say this at the debate:

“The first thing I want to say is that I was wrong. As I’ve traveled the country as the Republican nominee I’ve heard the voices of Americans across the political spectrum, beyond the base I owe so much to for nominating me. What I’ve heard is that if I want to lead America my strategy can’t begin with a zero sum game, though I won’t compromise on wanting to redraw the tax code, as well as invest in a new era of expanding education reform, or change my religious commitment to life. But my party has gone too far to suggest women who are victims of rape or incest must pay for crimes done against them and if you disagree don’t vote for me. I now understand that to be the president of all the people I have to be willing to compromise with those with different views so that when I’m elected I can get something done. President Obama has failed at bringing the two parties together and we’re in economic danger because of it, but as I proved in Massachusetts working with Democrats, I can succeed where he failed. Our country is in trouble and ideology won’t solve what ails our country… yada-yada-yada…”

It won’t happen, but it has the virtue of being true.

It would also throw President Obama further back on his heels and set his campaign to scrambling, offering the mother reset for the final month.

Conservatives wouldn’t bolt, but Republicans like Peggy Noonan and David Brooks would cheer, while the wingnut base would be stuck with a choice and would just have to suck it up to throw Obama from office, their passionate goal.

Following Romney Etch-a-Sketch debate reboot, a network blitz would follow, with Mitt Romney going anywhere that will have him.

Romney would pledge immigration reform similar to the Dream Act, also admitting that “self-deportation” scared people and he was wrong to suggest it.

Romney would pledge to leave Social Security alone, while saying Medicare and Medicaid are in need of real overhaul and he’s got the financial guts to do it.

Romney would state plainly that he would uphold Lily Ledbetter and supports it unequivocally. Then he must go further to announce his first priority would be to work with business leaders across the country to make pay equity between the genders a reality. He’s got the business prowess to push it.

The strategy above gives you an idea of just how much trouble Mitt Romney is in as the debate looms tonight.

It’s also a fantasy worthy of the Disney corporation.