Romney campaign done in by bad ‘Kabuki’


It was during a CNN interview last March when Mitt Romney senior advisor Eric Fehrnstrom infamously described the general election campaign as a clean slate after a grueling stretch of primary politics that pulled the candidate rightward.

“It’s almost like an Etch a Sketch,” Fernstrom said–an unwitting confirmation of the “flip flop” indictment against the Romney campaign. “You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

Ultimately, the campaign was unable to shake off the slip.

Fast forward to Sunday, and it was Romney chief strategist Stuart Stevens on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” offering a similarly honest acknowledgement about the doomed campaign. “The constant critique that he was an uncomfortable politician, that he was awkward, that he had trouble connecting with ordinary voters,” host Howard Kurtz said, setting up a question about whether the media distorted the picture of Mitt Romney, whether the candidate brought it upon himself or whether the responsibility was shared.

“Campaigning for president is a series of, sort of, Kabuki play set pieces that you go through,” Stevens said. “It is difficult to display the totality of someone in those moments.”


Like Fehrnstrom, Stevens used a revealing–and unflattering–analogy: that Romney was merely an actor, wearing an elaborate costume and offering voters little more than manufactured stagecraft.

It should be noted that Stevens also took responsibility for the Romney campaign’s failures–the candidate’s personal failures aside.

“Just blame me. That’s fine and let’s move on,” Stevens said. “And let’s go on and win races and learn from what we did.”

We may get Romney’s own perspective on Sunday, when Mitt and Ann Romney will be interviewed by Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” Romney is then slated to speak at the annual CPAC conference next month.

Steve Kornacki and Ken Vogel joined Martin to take on the Romney rehash in the segment below–and discuss what lessons Republicans need to know moving forward.

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Romney campaign done in by bad 'Kabuki'