There's an old saying that a lot of people adhere to. It's an English proverb that goes something like this: 'you can judge a man by the company he keeps.'
And therein lies the biggest problem for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney — the company he keeps is the Tea Party.
The Tea Party — a right wing political movement that advocates strict adherence to the Constitution along with conservative fiscal and social policies — have, for all intents and purposes, aligned themselves with the GOP.
Unfortunately, for Romney, that could cost him some votes and maybe the election.
Since the early days of the movement, Tea Party opponents have characterized them as right-wing radicals.
In 2009, CNN wrote a story about a Tea Party rally that featured placards depicting President Obama as a witch doctor and suggesting he had plans for "white slavery."
They have since distanced themselves from the allegations of racism, but, during this campaign, have got into hot water for outlandish comments about rape and abortion.
In August, Tea Party Republican Todd Akin embarrassed himself and his party when he said: "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
In a debate last month, Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said that "even when life begins at that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that god intended to happen."
And then last week, according to Reuters, a Tea Party Republican nominee in Washington state, said he opposes abortions, because it's like "putting more violence onto a woman's body."
Certainly, there is a percentage of the population that agree with the Tea Party's right-wing views, but there's also a percentage of mainstream Americans that are turned-off by them and, as a result, won't vote for the GOP.
Romney and the Republicans can only hope that the former is greater than the latter.
A lesson for Canada?
There's a lesson in this for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.
During the 2004 campaign, MP Randy White suggested that the Conservatives would overrule the courts on same sex marriage. Many felt that one comment cost the Tories that election.
Between now and the 2015 election, Harper will have to balance MP discretion versus the importance of keeping everyone 'on message.'
Every time the likes of Rob Anders accuses someone of helping to hasten "Jack Layton's death," it turns off voters. Anytime a MP compares jailed anti-abortion activists to Martin Luther King or when an MP wants to study when a baby becomes a human being, it hurts the Conservative Party brand.