Romney adviser said election wasn't lost on ideas
November 29th, 2012
08:41 AM ET
4 years ago

Romney adviser said election wasn't lost on ideas

(CNN) – Stuart Stevens, a top adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, denied Thursday that Romney's loss reflected a denunciation of his ideas for the country, naming instead the two campaigns' opposing political strategies as the reason for President Barack Obama's win.

"I certainly don't think it was the ideas," Stevens said on CBS. "I think the ideas carried the day for us. And the success that we had, though it obviously wasn't enough to win the race, was based on the candidate Mitt Romney and on his ideas."

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Romney's chief strategist was speaking hours before the former GOP nominee was slated to sit down for his first face-to-face with Obama following the November 6 vote. The pair will meet for lunch at 12:30 p.m. ET in the White House private dining room – a fulfillment of an election night promise from the president to hear Romney's ideas for smaller, more efficient government in person.

Stevens is slated to participate in a panel Thursday evening at Harvard's Institute of Politics featuring top campaign advisers to both Romney and Obama. In a Washington Post op-ed article Wednesday, Romney's chief strategist defended the former GOP nominee and warned against party infighting in the aftermath of the general election.

Stevens, who himself faced criticism during the campaign following media reports revealing tensions among Romney's top advisers, said Thursday that Obama's team made a concerted decision to hone in on state issues, rather than focus on the broader scope that Romney envisioned for his effort.

"That was not why Gov. Romney was running," he said. "He wanted to talk about big national issues: debt, entitlement, the future of the country. He wanted to put big questions before the country. And he did that. And I think the comparison of those two was striking."

Another boon to Obama, Stevens suggested, was the opportunity for leadership following Superstorm Sandy, which devastated parts of the East Coast the week before the election.

"I think the images of the president in the storm were very helpful to him. It reminded [voters] of what they liked about the president. It was successful," Stevens said.

While Obama's central set of campaign talking points may have helped the incumbent, Stevens said he was "baffled" by pundits tying Obama's win to his team's ground game, since the Democratic effort wasn't as successful as it was in 2008.

"They turned out more voters four years ago than they did this time," he said. "I would give them credit for their message in those states rather than just their ground game."

Nonetheless, Stevens said the Romney team could have made better inroads with female and Hispanic voters – both groups that Obama won by large margins. Saying the former Romney team has talked "a lot" about how they would have won the election, Stevens said their candidate's record on women's issues could have been better highlighted – and that in the future, Republicans should use their positions on those issues to their advantage.

"I think we have a very good message there. We just have to do a better job with it," he said.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    "I certainly don't think it was the ideas," Stevens said on CBS. "I think the ideas carried the day for us. And the success that we had, though it obviously wasn't enough to win the race, was based on the candidate Mitt Romney and on his ideas."

    So says the man who helped run the worse campaign in modern history. Yeah. Mr. Mittens had "ideals" ... a great many ideals. Too many ideals. None of which he ever stuck with for more than a day or so before another great "ideal" (or a different group of people) came into his mindset. Good luck with trying to salvage your own reputation, Mr. Stevens. You lost. Mitt Romney lost. It's over. For both of you.

    "I think we have a very good message there. We just have to do a better job with it," he said.

    Mitt Romney insulted 47% of the voting population. Mitt Romney never once stepped up and defended those who had to stand in line for hours to vote. Mitt Romney got what he deserved .... 47% of the popular vote. No message could ever replace that sweet karma. Put the Etch A Sketch away, Mr. Stevens. The election is over. There won't be a second go around to improve his "message". He failed. You failed. America won.

    November 29, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. Former Republican, now an Independent

    It was Romney's unwavering loyalty to the wealthiest 5%, and the fact that these people bought him with millions of dollars of undisclosed donations that cost him the election. This is fast becoming the trait of all current day republicans who are joining this neo-fascist movement that has gained control of the party.

    November 29, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  3. Rick 7809

    The republicans are fooling themselves if they really believe this. The American voting public did not like the message of the GOP. They lost the presidential popular vote, they lost the electoral college, and if it wasn't for about 1 million voters in 20 congressional districts (less than 1% of the presidential total), they would have lost the House as well. My advice to them would be to stop bending the truth, preaching and screaming at the public and listen.

    November 29, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  4. v_mag

    Here are some of the many losing "ideas" held by Rob-money and the right wingers:

    1. Keep giving huge amounts of welfare to the rich.
    2. Meddle in peoples' private lives and medical decisions
    3. Make it more and more difficult for working people to have decent health care.
    4. Rattle sabres and threaten war with far away third world countries.
    5. Remove all barriers to greedy corporations so that we have more industrial and financial disasters like the BP oil spill
    6. Denigrate half the population by calling them lazy.

    Those are all Romney, and all rejected by America.

    November 29, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  5. clarke

    Look, Obama won on his own merit. The GOP thinks the American Voters are stupid. What a slap in the face to us, we the people who voted for the President's re-election. The GOP can come up with any excuse why they lost, at the end of the day President Obama is still the President for the next four years. GOP needs to take responsibility for their own loss and stop blaming others, even"Sandy" wow! Why not blame the Easter Bunny, the Tooth fairy, The dog. Just plain Shameful!

    November 29, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    "I certainly don't think it was the ideas," Stevens said on CBS.
    "THAT, is why you failed." Master Yoda to Luke Skywalker, on Dagobah.

    November 29, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  7. WB

    This guy is delusional.

    November 29, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  8. david mann

    Spin, spin, spin, don't you Republicans get dizzy (dizzier) from all that spinning? You lost because Obama is the better man. Romney will never be President. He'll never be any more influential than Donald Trump. And that's a limbo low brother.

    November 29, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  9. Strategic Bob

    uhh, yes it was the ideas, Mr. Stevens. the GOP philosophy of governance is morally and intellectually bankrupt and could only be advocated by persons who are disinterested in facts. other than it seemed to be nothing more than lie, lie, lie some more, flip-flop, flop-flip, and pander to the TEA Party by picking Eddie Munster as a running mate, the Romney campaign strategy had nothing to do with it.

    November 29, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  10. Canuck

    These guys have to be the sorest losers in history.

    November 29, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  11. Canuck

    "I think we have a very good message there."

    I don't.

    November 29, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    No. It was lost because American women voted for hand outs, over sensibility.

    That was the decisive group that handed the election to Obama, and NO ONE ELSE!

    November 29, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  13. norevenge

    you lost. end of story!

    November 29, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  14. Wake up People!

    I agree. Please GOP continue just the way you are. Continue to tell ADULT women what they can do with their bodies. Continue treating minorities like something you scrape off the bottom of your shoes. You're right 332 to 206 is rather close. If you continue thinking this way, your party of dinosaurs will be extinct very soon, and we will NEVER have to worry about you rotten people ever again.

    Psst.... Here's a little secret for you. Come closer and listen real good. Mittens only received as many votes as he did because SOME people REFUSED to vote for a black man aka Muslim/Kenyan. You might not get that lucky in 2016, the democratic candidate will probably be white.

    Toodles GOP/Baggers!

    November 29, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  15. rs

    Sorry, Mr. Stevens. Given the fragile economic climate, this election was your to lose- yet that is precisely what happened. You guys lost my vote specifically over these ideas:
    1. Further tax cuts for the rich
    2. "Legitimate rape"
    3. Destruction of federal regulations
    4. Pro-poullution mentality
    5. Anti-worker laws
    6. Anti-voter laws
    7. Anti-civil rights laws
    8. Anti-science stance on virtually all issues
    9. Anti-47% ideas

    I could go on, but you get the picture. You're just about the 1% and your ideas showed that.

    November 29, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  16. maf

    What were Mitt Romney's ideas?? Elect me and I will tell you later . . . that is not getting your message out!!!
    If Mitt had some stupendous, October surprise ideas, well you sure had an amazing way of putting those forth.
    You are still not revealing any great IDEAS. Now, when the world is watching, why don't you put forth some of those ideas that would make America a better country. Yeah, I thought so, there are no NEW amazing ideas in the GOP.

    November 29, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  17. FactCheck

    Yes, definitely. Keep those ideas coming GOP. Taxes for the rich, regulation of women's health, self deportation, increases in the military budget. Great ideas. Please continue to run on these in 2014 and 2016.

    November 29, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  18. Wake up People!

    And please, please whatever you do, please revive the birther issue. Nothing makes you people look more batsh!t crazy than that!

    Where ya at Chump??? Birth Certificate, College transcripts, are they suddenly no longer important???

    November 29, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  19. Bill

    He is right. They lost because of a seriously flawed candidate, who has never held the same stance on any issue for more than 5 minutes.

    November 29, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  20. Tony

    The president won on his ideas. You can't say that Romney lost on his ideas, because no one knows what they are. Romney has been on both sides of every issue.

    November 29, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  21. Al-NY,NY

    blah blah blah...the excuses for his pathetic performance never end. Blame everyone else but himself. How typical. However.....keep it up GOP. The more you cling to this sorry excuse the easier you make it for your candidates to get TROUNCED in 2014 and 2016

    November 29, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  22. Larry in Houston

    @Wake up people – @9:38 am – – yes, that person WILL BE white – ( even though that doesn't make much difference what color they are) but I can see Hillary Clinton coming. ( especially with all the experience she's got) I think Boehner wants to lose it all, for the GOP. too bad. guess they get what they deserve.

    November 29, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    "I think we have a very good message there."

    I don't.
    Yeah, we don't either.

    It is NOT Obama's ground game. It is not everything that OFA did, albeit they were sublimely successful in what they set out to do.
    In sum it is NOT the game, it is THE PLAYER, the candidate.
    People love Obama. People do not love Romney. Hell, they don't even like him. How, then is he going to get them behind his ideas or lack thereof? No matter, because his ideas sucked too.
    Romney would NOT have benefitted from a similar ground game because, again, the candidate SUCKED.

    November 29, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. Emerson

    Mr. Stevens, Mr. Romney and anyone else who chooses to continue to wear GOP blinders in order to avoid seeing reality, is certainly free to do so, but at the risk of complete oblivion in future elections. You are on the wrong side of the vast majority of issues and the majority of Americans understand this and acted on that knowledge on November 6th.

    November 29, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  25. Drewsie

    It is continuously confounding the degree to which the bubble remains impervious! Thank God the American People and thier votes are not for sale. We are going forward to a better future not backward to a twisted past. One Nation, under morality, with science and freedom for all!

    November 29, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
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