Romney adviser hits back at candidate's critics
November 28th, 2012
02:17 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney adviser hits back at candidate's critics

(CNN) – As Republican post-election musings point fingers at perceived short-comings by the former Republican nominee Mitt Romney, his campaign and the GOP as a whole, a top Romney adviser staunchly defended his candidate and warned against Republican infighting.

"Over the years, one of the more troubling characteristics of the Democratic Party and the left in general has been a shortage of loyalty and an abundance of self-loathing," wrote chief Romney strategist Stuart Stevens in an op-ed in the Washington Post Wednesday. "It would be a shame if we Republicans took a narrow presidential loss as a signal that those are traits we should emulate."

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Stevens asserted that while Romney was not a Washington favorite he managed to win the Republican nomination and, ultimately, inspired voters.

"Nobody liked Romney except voters," he wrote in the op-ed. "What began in a small field in New Hampshire grew into a national movement. It wasn't our campaign, it was Mitt Romney."

"When Mitt Romney stood on stage with Barack Obama, it wasn't about television ads or whiz- bang turnout technologies, it was about fundamental Republican ideas versus fundamental Democratic ideas. It was about lower taxes or higher taxes, less government or more government, more freedom or less freedom. And Republican ideals – Mitt Romney – carried the day."

Stevens ticked off a series of Romney's accomplishments - from the former Massachusetts governor's fundraising supremacy to his commanding performances in the debates as well as defending conservative economics. He argued Romney's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate, despite worries the GOP budget engineer's proposal would turn away seniors, changed the fundamental debate on entitlement reform.

While acknowledging his party's setbacks, Stevens' op-ed fell short of providing a remedy or explanation for the GOP's failure to grab the Oval Office, instead urging conservatives to continue pushing forward.

"The Obama organization ran a great campaign. In my world, the definition of the better campaign is the one that wins," wrote Stevens. "Losing is just losing. It's not a mandate to throw out every idea that the candidate championed, and I would hope it's not seen as an excuse to show disrespect for a good man who fought hard for values we admire."

Stevens himself faced criticism in the heat of the campaign season following a glaring report from Politico revealing tensions among Romney's top advisers and blaming Stevens for some campaign mishaps at the Republican National Convention.

–CNN's Jim Acosta and Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (356 Responses)
  1. buckeye1

    Considering obama pulled just about everyone but the Pope out of his whatever to campaign for him for the last FOUR YEARS and still only won a little over HALF of the country, I wouldn't consider that a "landslide". How preposterous! haa

    November 29, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. buckeye1

    Hey, "pj" – Some people just want this president to go away, but we can't all get what we want, now can we?

    November 29, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  3. dave oldread

    i think the american public just was sick of the hate from the right while the country was down and out, the gop refused to work with our president from day one, while people were losing jobs and thier homes they were stuck on the fact that in 2008 they lost to a black man,then while primmary time the gop tested the american people;s intelagents, american people are taught from day one if you have nothing good to say don't say it. so muslim .....birther lies.... and to say our president is un-american is what turned voters off from the gop. last .....all media except fox is lib;s....realy its news, but the lies and hate attact on the president whom every it might be was a main reason why people could not come to vote for the gop canidate. last .....while america is waiting for a jobs bill the gop tried to repeal the afordable health care act over 30 times, at a cost to run the congress @ 1 million a day you would think the republicans all while knowning it would not pass the senate would have used this time to put americans back to work......but that would mean president obama would have got credit for creating jobs ....and when your out to make him a "one term president " that would be bad for repblicans, 2014 dems will take the house....and then hopefully it will be the last nail in the gop as a party in control, they should remember.....NEVER BET AGAINST THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. we are smarter than you think.

    November 29, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. asm_ith

    It's interesting that Stuart Stevens call this "a narrow presidential loss". Obama beat Romney by over 4 million votes, whereas Bush beat Kerry by only 3 million votes, so Obama victory was over a million votes more than Bush's victory. Obama got 332 electoral college votes to Romney's 206, whereas Bush got 286 to Kerry's 252. Yet Bush, the Wall Street Journal, and many Republicans said Bush had a big victory and a mandate. I guess it's yet another case of Republican math where 286:252 is "big" but 332:206 is not and a difference of a million is "narrow".

    November 29, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  5. Mike

    Look, Mr. Stevens. The election was relatively close, but Obama's victory was anything but "narrow." Noting that votes are STILL BEING COUNTED, his PV margin currently exceeds 4.5 million votes (that's 50% greater than Bush's margin of 3 million in 2004), and is now over 3.5% (>1% larger than Bush's) and growing. This is a 51%-47% election; there have been five elections since WWII that have been closer, and six elections closer than the 332-206 margin in the electoral vote.

    With a total Obama vote of 65.1 million, he may well exceed 66 million before the counting was done (3-3.5 million smaller than in 2008, not 4.5 million), and his margin over Romney may reach 5 million. The total turnout could reach 130 million, despite Sandy, only down about 1 million from 2008.

    More importantly, in the Electoral College, his only truly "narrow" win was in Florida, which he won by 0.9%. With provisionals (mostly) counted, his margin in Ohio is now about 3.0%, and his margin in Virginia is 3.9%. But he could have lost all three states and STILL WON THE ELECTION.

    In the remaining states, which total 272 electoral votes, his smallest margins are 5.4%, in Colorado and Pennsylvania (with some votes outstanding). That's nearly 2% better than his current national margin, and is roughly equal to Bill Clinton's "landslide" PV win in 1992.

    You can fool yourself into thinking that changing a few hundred thousand votes in a few select states could have given Romney the victory, but that's a bit like thinking that the Obama camp needed to flip "only" 23,000 votes in Alaska to win a state he lost by 15%. It's much easier said than done. Those voters would also have to be persuadable, and there's no indication there would have been that many persuadable Obama voters in the states you'd target.

    November 29, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  6. Cast Your Net Wide

    Its never Republican policy that is wrong.
    There is always something else.
    Dems spent more money, or gave "freebies"

    You spent BILLIONS trying to buy the White House,
    but the majority of Americans looked at your "policies" and said NO !!!!!!

    Until you Republicans wake up to a changing America,
    and toss out the TEA POISON, your party is dead in the water.

    You cant go back.

    November 29, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. Sane in Maine

    Romney didn't win his home state of Mass, didn't win his summer home state of NH, didn't win his former home state of Michigan and he didn't win his running mate's state of Wisconsin. He lost the electoral college by 112 votes. What's this guy talking about a "narrow win". It was indeed pretty borad and it seems that those who knew Romney & Ryan best gave them a solid rejection. What began in a field in NH ended in a hotel room in Boston – politically, Romney – the one term govonor of Massachusetts is a looser.

    Go soak your head Stuart Stevens – you're guy lost. Thank God he lost.

    November 29, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  8. bkavanaugh

    buckeye1 – If cows and cornfields could vote, your comment that 80% of the map was red would matter. Otherwise, the only metrics that matter are that only 47% of the voters went with Romney, along with 206 electoral votes.

    November 29, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. Dennis Freeman

    Romney and his ideas "carried the day?" Maybe Mr. Stevens hasn't had the election results settle-in yet. The votes, the electoral totals, the battleground states and Romney's home states, as well as Ryan's, Ryan's home town...resounding loses in Mass. and Wisc. At least he carried the day with angry, old white men – the likely future of the Tea Party/GOP.

    November 29, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. CarolinaGirl

    Your candidate lost and get over it. Instead of making excuses maybe you should just face reality GOP's way of thinking has to change.

    November 29, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Happy Holidays and Good Luck!

    Hey. A win is a win is a win is a win is a win is a win ....... yes?

    November 29, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  12. Tootie

    Don't get it twisted, sir! Romney was NOT the Republicans' real choice. He was able to bring in the big bucks because he simply is a rich man and rich people gravitate to rich people. Romney had no real ideas about how to run this country. He is a hollow man with lots of money and a big ego because of it. He scorns the "little people" who work and pay taxes and make this country what it is. He was simply out of touch with the majority of voters. Romney proved that money can't buy an election, even the presidency. Even after he lost, all of his comments showed how much he scorned the majority of the electorate. He still doesn't get it. He hasn't learned anything through all of this. I think he should just go away, count his money, and please, shut up. Just stop talking, because all he's doing is making it worse for Republicans. And Republicans should get over it, you lost. Take it like a real man, or woman, and move on. This country has alwalys risen to the occasion and it looks as if things are already looking up. You see, the country is not going to hell because Obama won as some of you would have us believe, because we're smarter than that. So suck it up, continue to work hard, and please put the word "compromise" back into your vocabulary. It's a new day and I feel great! By the way, I am an independent voter who voted for Obama.

    November 29, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. Debo G

    Stevens remains clueless and he and Romney's campaign mark the greatest demonstration of Mitt Romney's failures. Romney had money to compete only because he got money from a small population, the rich. They gave heartily because they were expecting big GIFTS (MORE tax breaks). If you can't manage a good and productive campaign and choosing your campaign manager is a first step, then you have nothing to show that you will be a good manager of the country. Romney got slaughtered in the election (332-206) and his decision making demonstrated that he would have been a failure as a leader. Nothing more to say and Stevens can spin all he wants to cover his part of that failure. The facts are the facts no matter what planet Republicans live on.

    November 29, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  14. Rina

    What?! Now I know why Mitt lost the election – his campaign adviser is NUTS!!! Not only did he make people in his own group mad so they quit right and left, he champions Mitt for selecting Paul Ryan because of his budget. Yeah, this upset seniors – so much that I know several – my mother for one – who have voted GOP all their lives but thanks to Paul's Road Map for America that included taking benefits away from seniors – she finally got smart and voted democrat. The GOP insulted every group they needed votes from – and still don't get that they screwed up by doing this! Oh, well. Looking forward to another democrat in the white house in 2016!

    November 29, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. Sandy


    Sore loser? At least Romney didn't steal the election as pathological liar

    I know isn't it great that the pathological liar Romney wasn't able to steal the election.

    November 29, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  16. kim

    Someone please remind Mr. Stevens that both his boys lost, in a big way. This country decided it was better to move into the future, and leave rule by the wealthy behind.

    November 29, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  17. N. Shapiro

    Despite huge expense by SuperPacs as well as the GOP, most of the voting public rejected Romney and Ryan personally, as well as rejecting their policicies.
    The phoney arguments did not overcome Romney's record as a job destroyer, a tax evader, a draft dodger and flip-flopper.
    Ryan's idea of putting Social Security funds on Wall Street, for a "better return" was irresonsible, crazy. Yes, Bernie Madoff promised a better return.

    November 29, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  18. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    I still want to see Mittens' tax returns. If he's such a hot-shot businessman, he should be willing to share with the country he supposedly loves his secrets for creating wealth.

    November 29, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. WachetAuf

    The GOP is awaiting the second coming of Jesus and Ronald Reagan. Nothing wrong with Jesus or Reagan. However, neither will come back to lead this GOP. Neither would recognize it. Jesus taught tolerance. So did Reagan. Reagan had his wild ideas, criticized by Bush I to be "voodoo economics", but he was not a rigid ideologue. He made compromises and, when faced with out of control deficits, he raised taxes.

    November 29, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. d

    "THANK YOU, Mr. Stevens! Finally someone has come out and said what HALF OF AMERICA has been thinking! If I was this president and I looked at the election map and saw 80% red, I wouldn't be bragging."

    You don't seem to understand elections in the United States. Barack Obama won over 50% of the popular vote, and won 120-some more electoral votes than Mitt Romney. He won 26 states + DC, versus 24 for Romney. That doesn't equal a map that's 80% red – not even close. I suspect you need work on your math skills.

    November 29, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  21. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    The only reason Mittens won the GOP nomination is because he's telegenic and not insane, unlike the rest of the Repub field.

    November 29, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  22. Larry in Houston

    WoW ! by reading most of these comments – It's amazing to me – that the republican party will have much 'meaning' in the future – 2014 mid-terms – LOL – the voters will Vote ! Guess we will be at a standstill til then – Hate to be a bearer of bad tidings – but this country will slowly get better – but the republicans are trying their darndest – to do the exact opposite –

    November 29, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. Rob

    Nothing like categorizing more than half the country in a single statement….definition of discrimination

    November 29, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  24. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    The only reason the race was even close in some states was because Mittens drank his first cup of coffee before the first debate and was more exciting than a wet dish rag. President Obama's policies, leadership and record of accomplishments carried the day.

    Suggestion for all you GOPers: Step up or step out of the way! The rest of us are moving FORWARD!

    November 29, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  25. drod

    Mitt lost Obama Won. Let it go man let it go.

    November 29, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
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