Byron York, who heads to Raleigh next week for a John Locke Foundation election preview panel discussion, uses his latest Washington Examiner column to explore the next steps for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign.

The next few days are going to try Romney’s patience and determination. The media is focusing incessantly on Obama’s relatively small move upward in the polls, with some of the coverage bordering on outright celebration. That, in turn, is spooking some already anxious Romney supporters who fear that Romney is going about it all wrong. They’ll offer lots of advice: Be tougher about this, more assertive about that, showcase this issue, downplay that one. Romney’s belief in the wisdom of his course will be put to the test. …

… Romney aides grumble about the criticism. Some of the doubters have all sorts of motivations, they note, like raising their professional standing or visibility in the media. Romney, on the other hand, has just one motive, which is to win the election. But here is Romney’s practical problem with his Republican critics: They may be right. Or they may be wrong. Romney has to decide, and he has to live with the consequences of his decision.

This is a true test of Romney’s resolve. He’s like the pilot of a plane rolling down the runway for takeoff. There’s a tree line at the end of the runway that he has to clear. He’s sure he’ll make it. He’s gaining speed, getting some lift, but he’s still not high enough, and at about three-quarters down the runway, a lot of passengers are getting scared. Does Romney keep going according to plan, confident he’ll clear the trees when the time comes? Or does he try some last-minute maneuver?