Romney Campaign In Shambles, According to Insider Accounts

No one plays the political blame game like the GOP and the finger pointing has begun.

The Romney campaign is self-destructing from within. That’s the message on Monday morning as a series of new reports based on insider glimpses of the campaign are surfacing and confirming what seasoned observers have sensed for weeks. But they are telling.

The biggest stone was cast by Politico, where a lengthy article described the chaos and missteps of the campaign in recent weeks, starting with the Republican National Convention speech that didn’t even mention America’s troops abroad. The Politico article lays the blame at the feet of top Romney campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens, who apparently tossed Romney’s original convention speech and hand-crafted the equally weak replacement.

The article follows up by saying that Romney’s post-Convention bus tour to small towns along Route 66 was too small time, and taken together with his bland RNC speech and Clint Eastwood stealing the show, Romney is falling flat and not generating the momentum that his handlers seek.

No one quite matches the GOP when it comes to the blame game—whether firing away at Obama or at its own ranks. So the Politico is filled with that kind of inside ball fodder, which, anyone who has worked on a campaign will surely recognize as a natural part of the unnatural and grandiose process called presidential campaigning.

There are all kinds of misgivings about Romney the man. The backbiting implication is that the CEO "par excellence" is apparently not such a good CEO after all. He takes too much power for himself, vests too much authority in the hands of Stevens and a small coterie of uber advisors, and his campaign does not rely on checks and balances that come with a larger staff weighing in on matters of message, timing, media, and so on.

A presidential campaign is a bit like a Silicon Valley start-up, where everyone falls in love with the initial idea and then struggles to make it work, reinventing itself along the way. This reinvention phase is what’s drawing the attention of not just Politico, but other news sites, which  are saying that after Romney's giant misstep on Libya last week, he will be be doubling down on hard-right social issues—as Buzzfeed labels it, “More God, less economy.”  

That will be very curious to see unfold—a Romney campaign asserting its fundamentalist religious face as the U.S. is attacked abroad by Islamic religious fundamentalists. What’s really most intriguing about these accounts and others is they confirm exactly what most people intuitively feel about Romney—the real Mitt, whoever, whatever and whereever he is, is not what is being presented to the public—and Americans know it.

These articles describe how anonymous handlers are laboring over the words and messages delivered by Ryan and Romney, and, of course, the public can tell it's all hyped rhetoric, platitudes and cliches. Of course the Obama campaign and White House has its speechwriters too. But somehow, when Obama speaks, at least some of the time, you actually sense that he takes ownership of what he is saying. It’s not just acting.

Many political reporters thought the 2008 McCain-Palin campaign set some kind of a low bar for worst-run presidential campaigns. Well, in today’s lightning-speed news cycle and instant pundit judgments, it appears the Romney campaign is heading toward that record and might win that race.



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Steven Rosenfeld is a senior writing fellow of the Independent Media Institute, where he covers national political issues. He is the author of several books on elections, most recently Democracy Betrayed: How Superdelegates, Redistricting, Party Insiders, and the Electoral College Rigged the 2016 Election (March 2018, Hot Books).