Once the media sinks its talons into a candidate, which is what happens when public opinion polls show him or her as a potential frontrunner, every aspect of his private and public life is opened up to mass dissection, dissemination, speculation and criticism. Every piece of legislation he backed, every gaffe or false statement he makes, every twitch, stutter and scratch goes instantly viral.
Which explains why Mitt Romney hasn't had much of an appetite for the limelight, at least not so early on in the game.
Mitt's strategy apparently relies on having the other front-runners step up and blow their wad on an early shot for fame and household recognition. They hog the spotlight and suck all of the oxygen out of the room, but their 15 minute shots for fame inevitably end when the mass media digs in and unearths unsavory aspects of their professional and personal life, some of which inevitably turn people off towards the Flavor of the Moment. The public and media proceed to anoint another front-runner as Flavor of the Moment and the cycle repeats anew. Meanwhile, Mittens stays in the cut, safe in the knowledge that as the pre-approved GOP candidate for President, he doesn't have to lift a finger until it's close to Super Tuesday, when he has to put his name in the minds of all those delegates if the GOP hasn't already.
So far, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry both stepped up and subsequently burned themselves out. And now Herman Cain's doing the same. At some point, the media and GOP supporters will get sick of seeing him and quietly escort him off-stage for the next sap in line, at least until it's close enough to Super Tuesday that Mitt Romney can comfortably show himself without flubbing too badly or having anyone digging too deep in his past to derail his nomination chances.
Mittens has the whole Mormon issue to deal with, a liability that could have sunk his nomination chances had he decided to show up on stage early. A late entrance might just be the thing that helps him cinch the nomination without getting beat senseless over his religion, among other things.