Romney Staffers Point Finger at Own Chief Strategist

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 17 2012 9:29 AM

Romney Campaign in Disarray, Says Romney Campaign

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R) smiles at his top advisor Stuart Stevens during a sound check at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, on August 30, 2012

Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/GettyImages.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall in Mitt Romney's Boston campaign offices today.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Politico went live last night with what amounts to a rather blistering attack on the GOP hopeful's chief campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens, courtesy of a number of unnamed "Romney aides, advisers and friends" who spoke off the record to heap criticism on Stevens for pretty much all of the campaign's recent missteps—from Clint Eastwood's performance-art-meets-stump-speech to the candidate's own controversial late-night statement criticizing the Obama administration in the hours after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.


The main thread that runs throughout Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei's lengthy insider account is the story of how Stevens' handled last month's Republican National Convention, in particular his decision to scrap a pair of (already-hastily written) versions of Romney's speech in favor of one he and his boss threw together at the last second:

"[E]ight days before the convention, at a time when a campaign usually would be done drafting and focused instead on practicing such a high-stakes speech, Stevens frantically contacted John McConnell and Matthew Scully, a speechwriting duo that had worked in George W. Bush’s campaign and White House. Stevens told them they would have to start from scratch on a new acceptance speech. Not only would they have only a few days to write it, but Romney would have little time to practice it. ...
"The two finished Ryan’s text the next day and started crashing on Romney’s. That weekend, Stevens accompanied Romney as he went to a school auditorium in New Hampshire with his wife, Ann, to practice yet another version of the speech. Only one paragraph from the McConnell-Scully draft wound up being used, about a rose that Romney’s father had put on his mother’s bedside table each day. The speech that was actually delivered, it turned out, had been cobbled together by Stevens and Romney himself."

Stevens is the one left bruised and battered by the end of the nearly-3,000 word piece, but his boss also doesn't escape unscathed:

"But whatever Stevens’s shortcomings, presidential candidates get the campaigns they want. And Romney, who in an interview with POLITICO last month said his leadership style very much centers on having a variety of smart people offering advice and him being the decider, has taken a very active role running his own campaign. In a way, that’s the problem. Romney associates are baffled that such a successful corporate leader has created a team with so few lines of authority or accountability."

You can read the full piece here. It's noteworthy for the inside-baseball details, of course, but perhaps more so because it paints a picture of campaign willing to air its internal disputes in the press with less than two months left in a tightly contested presidential election. (This is the type of finger-pointing one expects to see from a campaign only after it loses.) 

Stevens, meanwhile, appears safe for now. Yet another unnamed Romney senior adviser told BuzzFeed last night that there's "no truth" to rumors that Stevens is on the way out despite the fact he's lost the support of so many of his colleagues.


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Not Easy for Me, but I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
Business Insider
Sept. 23 2014 10:03 AM Watch Steve Jobs Tell Michael Dell, "We're Coming After You"
The Vault
Sept. 23 2014 10:24 AM How Bad Are Your Drinking Habits? An 18th-Century Temperance Thermometer Has the Verdict
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 9:42 AM Listen to the Surprising New Single From Kendrick Lamar
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 7:00 AM I Stand With Emma Watson
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.