Tagg Romney Gets Credit For Dad's Campaign Shift

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 9 2012 12:38 PM

Who Is Getting Credit For Romney's New Campaign Image? Tagg!

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Former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton (R) speaks to Tagg Romney during the RNC in Tampa this summer

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Last month, Politico's Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei documented the internal bickering that was said to be going on within Team Romney as the Republican campaign stumbled through a summer full of missteps that included a largely underwhelming GOP convention (which, you may remember, was nearly hijacked by Clint Eastwood and an empty chair).

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

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

Fast forward a few weeks, and the current narrative surrounding Mitt Romney is noticeably different, thanks in no small part to Romney's dominating performance on stage in Denver last week. So who is getting the credit for the newly energized Romney that reporters are now seeing on the campaign trail? Tagg Romney, the candidate's oldest son, according to Allen and VandeHei's latest dispatch on the campaign's inner workings:

For months, Ann Romney and her eldest son, Tagg, were dutifully supportive of the political professionals running Mitt Romney’s campaign. All the while, their private frustration was mounting. Shortly before the first debate, it finally boiled over.
What followed was a family intervention. The candidate’s family prevailed on Mitt Romney, and the campaign operation, to shake things up dramatically, according to campaign insiders. The family pushed for a new message, putting an emphasis on a softer and more moderate image for the GOP nominee—a 'let Mitt be Mitt' approach they believed more accurately reflected the looser, generous and more approachable man they knew. ...
[T]he biggest change in the ecology, according to the insiders, is the more assertive role of Tagg Romney, who has been "making sure that his father’s environment is such that he’s relaxed when he goes up to do things, and making sure that he’s not over-programmed, and is protected from the cacophony of advice," a family friend said. ...
The eldest son has been around the campaign’s Boston headquarters more often and keeps his own heavy schedule of media and campaign appearances. His involvement increased gradually in the two weeks before the debate, according to the insiders, after focusing on fundraising for much of the 2012 campaign.
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You can read the full Politico piece here. The info comes from "campaign sources with direct knowledge of the events" who insisted on anonymity. As such, it's worth pointing out that the narrative on display is largely a flattering one for Romney—at least for the candidate if not the campaign—and the off-the-record interviews were likely sanctioned on some level by the campaign's brass (as are the vast majority of all such campaign backgrounders).

It comes at a time when the Obama camp is charging that the Romney on display in Denver—a candidate who appears to have won over quite a few voters—is not the real Romney but instead an inauthentic version of the man we'd seen throughout the GOP primary and into this summer. The Romney campaign's story of the candidate's family freeing him (letting "Mitt be Mitt") obviously pushes back on the president's claims, and instead portrays this "new" Romney as the real Romney.

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