Romney campaign lets go of new debate coach
February 3rd, 2012
07:54 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney campaign lets go of new debate coach

(CNN) - Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has parted ways with debate coach Brett O'Donnell, a Romney campaign source confirmed Friday.

O'Donnell, a former Michele Bachmann adviser who also did debate prep sessions with John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008, was given credit in several media reports as the man behind Romney's impressive back-to-back debate performances in Florida.

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But a source inside the campaign told CNN Friday that O'Donnell's role "was vastly overblown."

O'Donnell was present in the spin room after the CNN debate in Jacksonville giving credit to Romney for his preparation and work habits.

That night, O'Donnell told CNN that Romney realized after his South Carolina primary loss that he needed to "make some changes strategically" in his onstage message.

"He knew he had to engage Newt more and be better on a couple of answers," O'Donnell explained. "He worked really hard to get them right, and tonight I saw a vast improvement."

But in the days after the Florida debates, some Romney advisers groused privately that O'Donnell was being given too much credit for Romney's performances, and proactively emailed reporters to downplay his role in the campaign.

O'Donnell did not respond to an email seeking comment.

- CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby contributed to this report.

Also see:

Romney on 'poor' comment: I misspoke

McDonnell open to spot as GOP running mate

Romney hits U.S. Taliban proposal

A Trump endorsement: Where imagination and reality meets

Gingrich to challenge Florida delegates

Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Mitt Romney
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Tired of republican lies

    What do you expect...he likes to fire people.

    February 3, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  2. otermbachmann

    Mittens does like to fire people!

    February 3, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  3. T'sah from Virginia

    Romney was truly beginning to sound like Bachmann – maybe that is the REAL reason why they let O'Donnell go!!

    The Republicans are a mess!!! They cannot even give credit to President Obama for the recent unemployment decline and creation of jobs. If President Obama was a Republican – "Hail, hail – the Republican gang will be all here to Praise him!!!

    Obama 2012

    February 3, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  4. Romney is not My Hero

    "O'Donnell, a former Michele Bachmann adviser who also did debate prep sessions with John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008" I actually have to agree with Robot Romney's decision on this one. - I still don't like him, and he will lose but good decision.

    Oh, and OBAMA 2012

    February 3, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  5. cali girl

    Oopsie another one goes out. I am very sure mitt thinks he is fine on his own, perhaps having this race in the bag. Keep telling yourself that.

    February 3, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  6. Thomas

    If we all had a debate coach , the economy would be in good shape.


    February 3, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  7. westward

    The GOP needs to let go of Romney. He's a worthless lead weight.

    February 3, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  8. cody

    If you spoke from your heart, you would not need a debate coach.

    February 3, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  9. Ken

    Well, he said he likes to fire people. There you go.

    February 3, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  10. PTNY

    Does this mean he's going back to his original performance? I, I, I, ah ah ah ah.

    February 3, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  11. apple pie

    Let's go of debate coach??!! Oh no.... here we go again.

    February 3, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  12. Mike in GBORO

    Wow that guy got "Bained"! He bought Bachmann's debate coach, stripped out all the value and as soon as he turned a profit (winning Florida) he dumped him and refused to credit him for his role in his success. Wow mitt, you can't but character.

    February 3, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  13. PTNY

    Oven Mitt... ..can't stand the heat, fire them! Now he's blaming his coach...geeze. No one is ever blameless in his world.

    February 3, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  14. Ron Paul

    Wouldn't be surprised if he is still working for and being paid by Team Mitt, and this is just for appearances. That would be great if its true and someone got a hold of it.

    February 3, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  15. GaryInOH

    So, he hired a debate coach... saw his debate performances improve... and then fired the debate coach even though there are about 30 more debates before the nomination? Either Mitt thinks he did a great job on his own or Mitt really does like firing people!

    February 3, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. Obviously

    The rumour is this guy spilled some confidential info to Bachmann and that he cannot be trusted... so this makes it sound like they didn't like the press... I think there is more.

    February 3, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  17. Independent from NH

    This is strange at best. If O'Donnell DID to a great job coaching then why would they let him go? Are they saying that Mitt is so good of a debater that he no longer requires the help of a skilled debate coach? If that were the case that would be synonymous with an ego as large as Newt Gingrich. Either way it seems to be a lose-lose situation. Give the guy credit, don't use him and then complain he was given too much credit. Romney was the one who actually delivered during the debate for Pete's sake, not O'Donnell. Coaching is great but if you cannot implement it into a real-world applicable scenario such as a presidential debate then there is no point in even having a coach. So what is it? Is Mitt just too good to need a coach? Or are they tossing the poor guy overboard for whatever reason? And if the latter is the case, what IS that reason?

    February 4, 2012 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  18. donna

    It's quite clear the Republicans are about to lose to Obama in the worst way imaginable. They have been treated very cruelly by the 2012 political process. PETA should really intervene.

    February 4, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  19. carrotroot

    Thanks for the help but you're fired

    February 4, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  20. klet

    He fired someone. What a surprise!!!!!

    February 4, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  21. My name is Jose Jimenez

    Of course Romney's campaign wants to downplay the role his debate coach played. Romney is an empty suit and it shows. If at this stage in his life with his assertion that his vast experience is what is needed to turn the country around he continues to put his foot in his mouth. Coming off his impressive win over gingRICH in Florida he should have been basking in his win, but no he's been spending everyday trying to spin his dumb remark about not being worried about the poor. What he said is probably what he believes because he is so disconnected from most Americans.

    The folks in the White House must be loving how badly the Republicans have been handling themselves. It almost makes one wonder if they really are serious about winning in November putting up this batch of candidates.

    February 4, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  22. Michael Bauser

    That sounds hilariously self-sabotaging.

    February 4, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  23. say it ain't so

    Well there is a surprise. Mitt hires someone on, gets uses and abuses to his advantage and then fires them. He just can't help it... he loves firing people he has used up. It is the Bain model.

    February 4, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Brett O'Donnell for president 2012

    February 4, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  25. tact

    It seems that the knife is always at the ready and the back is ever wanting.

    February 4, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
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