Tagg Romney: Mitt had "no desire" to run

A behind the scenes account in the Boston Globe finds cluelessness at the Romney campaign's highest levels

By David Daley
December 23, 2012 8:15PM (UTC)
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(AP/Charles Dharapak)

Just how bad was Mitt Romney's campaign? So bad that top Republican officials are now trying to "reverse engineer" his race to make sure no GOP candidate ever makes the same mistakes.

According to a behind-the-scenes story of the Romney campaign in today's Boston Globe -- by reporter Michael Kranish, who co-authored the biography "The Real Romney" -- Mitt's aides are still in disbelief over what hit them.

It describes a campaign that was deeply divided on whether to run on Romney's biography or on his business record. Ultimately, the paper reports, Romney sided with campaign manager Stuart Stevens rather than with the family members who wanted to stress his biography.

Among the revelations in the story:

* Romney's Ohio director had no idea what Obama's campaign was doing with all of its ground-game power. In a hilarious quote, Rich Beeson tells the paper: “Now I know what they were doing with all the staffs and ­offices. They were literally creating a one-to-one contact with voters.”

* Beeson wasn't the only mystified member of the team. The Globe reports that when Tagg Romney studied Obama's spending patterns, he "could not figure it out. Why had Obama spent so heavily during the primaries when he had no primary opponent? Only later did Tagg realize this was a key to Obama’s victory."

“We were looking at all the money they were spending in the primary and we were thinking ‘what are they spending all their money on? They’re wasting a lot of money.’ They weren’t," he told the Globe. "They were paying staffers in Florida.”

* Romney's campaign was caught flat-footed on social media. They wanted to build a Facebook app to locate voters who do not have landlines. They did not unveil it until three weeks before the campaign, and it was downloaded only 40,000 times. In contrast, Obama's had been released months earlier, and was downloaded some 1 million times. The project's coordinator tells the paper that the goal was: “Can we do 80 percent of what the Obama campaign is doing, in 20 percent of the time, at 10 percent of the cost?”

* Romney was still convinced he would win Ohio. Beeson, in late October, wrote a memo that "all but ridiculed the notion that the Republican presidential nominee, with his 'better ground game,' could lose." One problem, as the Globe notes: "But the claims proved wildly off the mark, a fact embarrassingly underscored when the high-tech voter turnout system that Romney himself called 'state of the art' crashed at the worst moment, on Election Day."

* And in perhaps the money quote of the whole piece, Tagg Romney tells the paper: “He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run."

David Daley

David Daley is the author of "Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy" and a senior fellow at FairVote.

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2012 Elections Barack Obama Mitt Romney Tagg Romney