On Thursday night, Romney campaign senior strategist Stuart Stevens will join the campaign leaders from both presidential campaigns for an election postmortem event. Will the criticism that’s been leveled against him in the past 24 hours mean we hear a more introspective Stevens tonight?
Stevens on Wednesday made an aggressive defense of the Romney campaign in a Washington Post op-ed that builds on a series of reasons to blame for the candidate’s loss: “D.C.’s green-room crowd,” “the professional political class” (which apparently does not include himself), a “self-loathing” Republican party, and “what passes for a political intelligentsia.” Ultimately, Stevens chalks up Romney’s loss to a “charismatic African-American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical.” Stevens asks,”How easy is that to replicate?”
Critics have pounced. McCain’s National Hispanic Co-Chair Ana Navarro and former Romney strategist Mike Murphy lampooned the op-ed’s tone on Twitter.
On CBS This Morning, Stevens was quizzed on his letter and largely doubled down, arguing, “I think that the ideas carried the day for us….He wanted to talk about big national issues, debt, entitlements, the future of the country, he wanted to put big questions before the country and he did that.”
Some conservatives who believe Stevens’ single-minded message focus stifled Romney’s intended conversation haven’t received Stevens’ assertion well. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin writes, “It is a bit galling…for the consultant who was allergic to an idea-driven campaign to praise Romney’s boldness on entitlement reform and effort in ‘making the moral case’ for capitalism.”
Pressed on whether he’d made any mistakes (Romney did lose, after all), Stevens acknowledged, “I think we should have done a better job reaching out to women voters - the governor has a great record on women’s issues. We should have done a better job articulating that record. We should have done a better job reaching out to Hispanic voters. We should have done it earlier. And in a more effective way.”
Stevens put the best spin he could on Romney’s “gifts” remarks, saying on CBS, “I think he was saying that there was an effort that the incumbent used as many other incumbents have used to reach out to constituents. That’s something we’ve seen in politics going back for a long time. They did it effectively.”