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. Glenn Doty


    Republicans absolutely should keep running on the same ideas they ran on this year.
    For the good of the country, please.
    (note i'm a democrat and a supporter of Obama and Obama's policies).

    November 28, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Losing is just losing." ... "And Republican ideals – Mitt Romney – carried the day."

    Yeah. And what a loss it was. Against Mitt Romney and Republican ideals.

    Bottom line: Barack Obama carried the day.

    November 28, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  3. L

    This is just silly. The Republicans are having an all out tantrum over this loss. I don't think a group of high school students would act as immature as they have over this election. You lost, move on. This is a Democracy. Now we all work together to make the country strong. That is what they are failing to do in their pity party stupor. If you don't want to live in a Democracy please leave the country. We had to follow Pres. Bush and for Generations we have adhered to election outcomes. But suddenly we have a mixed race President and they want to abandon the tenets that have made this country great. Just unbelievable poor sportsmanship and sour grapes.

    November 28, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  4. Tears of a clown

    Wasn’t Romney the guy who could not seal the deal? It took until late August for him to finally beat about 8 candidates. Every week it was a different candidate taking the lead. Romney was never the top candidate nor the favorite; if anything, he won the Republican nomination by default.

    November 28, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. sbkilb

    "Narrow Loss"...what is it with the Republican party, they still don't get it.

    November 28, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  6. NickAnast

    One of these years, the GOP may actually ask itself why it has lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections. Of course, by that time, the GOP will no longer be a major political party.

    To prove that they have learned absolutely nothing, right-wingers are already talking about 2014 Senate primary challenges to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Georgia) and Rep. Shelley Capito (West Virginia) because they are "not conservative enough." Capito leads Sen. Jay Rockefeller by 4 points in the most recent (only?) poll of the race. Can't wait to see who else gets primaried.

    November 28, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. bp

    This attempt by Stevens to absolve himself and Romney of any mistakes, or of being rejected by voters, is hysterical in its level of self-delusion. I guess that's the only way for him to deal with the failure – to try to spin it beyond recognition.

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

    November 28, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  8. 2012liberal

    Problem w Romney was he was 4 some of the ppl some of the time but always 4 the statues quo.

    November 28, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  9. TAP

    It sounds like Mr. Stevens is in line to join Grover Norquist in the Immediately Irrelevant club

    November 28, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. Committee for a Permanent Democratic Majority

    Yeah, Repugs, stay away from that self-loathing. You're just perfect. No need to attract those tacky minorities or women. You need to come out with a policy to execute anybody who even asks about abortion...God's will and all that. Social Security and Medicaid? Get rid of all of them and give rebates to billionaires. Let's have more talk of rape!! Maybe some videos?

    November 28, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  11. Mancy Graice

    More sour grapes from yet another fat, rich white man. What a disgusting piece of fecal waste. Looks like we are facing another four years of crazy tea party doubling down on hate and intolerance. Keep it up republicans, your "party"will soon go the way of the buggy whip and the slide rule. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

    November 28, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. JP Austin

    Romney lost because what he offered was a load a crap. Same as what this Stevens character continues to do. Who does he think he's fooling -other than himself- with his spiel about how "the people loved us, even if Washington didn't".

    Grow a pair, man. "Self-loathing"? Look in the mirror. You are clueless. That's why you lost. Suck it up and move on.

    November 28, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. greyhackles

    Romney won the primary because he ran against a bus load of loons. Hardly a mandate there – as was proven later.

    He lost the election because the electorate saw there wasn't any topic he couldn't switch sides on.

    Bottom line: Romney was not trustworthy.
    Game over.

    November 28, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. ClarasBeau

    I find it interesting that many Republicans are STILL talking about something that they apparently are having difficulty accepting. If they keep talking about the election the way they have been, they'll turn off the voters they seek, and need. They should be moving forward promoting their ideas for the future, instead of doing all of this finger-pointing and hand-wringing over an election they lost. Get over it, GOP. Move on. You've got a lot of work to do.

    November 28, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  15. jim


    yet another conservative who can't accept facts.

    November 28, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Nash

    It is time GOP and its base accepted the facts. If Romney was as good as they say he is, how did he lose with unemployment so high? He lost because he was a weak candidate trying to recycle outdated GOP ideas. Lets face it a loser is a loser. There are no two ways about it. At this rate the GOP is likely to remain in the minority for a few years until they discover that this is a diverse country that frowns upon racist, hate filled diatribes with no basis in facts.

    I hope that when Romney visits the White House this Thursday, he remembers that it is a privilege to be a President and it is not an entitlement as he thought it was. I also hope he apologizes for telling the President to start packing.

    November 28, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. Sally

    You are in total denial. Romney didn't loose by a small amount. And with that in mind, Romney lost because of his very own distaste of 47% of the American people, while all the while pushing tax codes to almost illegal limits to save money for himself. Just how rich does any one person need to be? A hundred million in investments that he lives on the dividends?! He also lost because he kept changing what he "really believed in". I think it is time for the Republican party to point fingers, ask themselves tough questions, ditch Norquist and become the big tent party they say they are, but really aren't.

    November 28, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  18. ss

    Its about time someone spoke up for Mitt Romney. He came very close to winning. And while dems, he's not perfect, neither is your guy. Thats why he only got just slightly more than half the vote, much less than he got the first time.

    The only things dems did better in this election was they were more sucessful in getting out their vote and of course, sweetening the pot with special interest groups. That is the truth.

    Haviing saiid that, no I'm not bitter. I'm just amazed at how stupid just over half the country is. So repubs, so blaming each other and look at the truth. Do not become your idiot cousin.

    November 28, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  19. Facts don't Lie

    Although it's true that nobody should accept losing totally, there is something called losing with grace and that is what it appears many Republicans have a hard time doing. Anytime something doesn't go their way it's due to something sinister, some plot to destroy their way of life, everyone is suppose to accept their brand and if you fail to there is something wrong with YOU not them. It has gotten way old but perhaps Rick Santorum spoke the truth when he said that Mitt Romney would be the WORST candidate they could ever run against Obama. I am sure he is smirking when he is away from the cameras.

    November 28, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  20. kbv206

    The Dems aren't saying anything- they won. The Republicans are the ones complaining about Romney or blaming advisers in his campaign. See Santorum (Romney was not conservative enough), Gingrich (Blamed Romney for outsourcing jobs to China), etc. Hey Mitt, maybe this clown shouldn't have been running your campaign if he can't identify the problem to begin with.

    November 28, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  21. Nash

    And by the way, this was not a close election, considering Romney total tally of the popular vote is now only about 47% (according to election results this week) and lost the electoral college vote by 126. A close election in my book is 266 to 272. Kerry/Bush election was close.

    November 28, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  22. Randy, San Francisco

    The loss was bigger than Romney. Like in California, the GOP/Tea Party is fading slowly into irrelevance.

    November 28, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  23. Marie

    More whining form a the party of all excuses and no taking of responsibility for anything. Here it is 3 weeks later and I am still laughing my head off over the fact that far too many STILL don't get why they lost. It's not rocket science folks. But then they are in such deep pathetic denial what else are we sane people to expect? They are like a horse with a broken leg who needs to be put down.

    November 28, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  24. linus

    Shannon... I think what he he meant by the loyalty comment is that Democrats are not loyal to each other, which is very true. Look no further than the health care debate. Dems had a majority in the House and a fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate, so if they had marched in lock-step like their Republican counterparts, it could have been passed in 6 months, while it was still popular. Instead, members of their own party dragged out the debate for two years, which enabled Republicans to demonize it and eventually retake the one Senate seat that would have enabled them to fillibuster against it.

    November 28, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  25. Bubba

    The comments on this board just seem to confirm the liberal slant of CNN – the same lack of balance you see on the NYT's site. Stevens is right that a change of a relatively small number of votes in a few key swing states would have given Romney the electoral votes he needed to win, and also, that Obama's campaign had a better turnout operation using early voting to get people who would not have shown up on election day. But that just underscores the strategic blunders of the campaign that he was chief strategist of – giving Obama a free pass on Benghazi and other foreign policy blunders in the final debate, failing to articulate what would have been a better approach to the auto bailouts when midwestern states like Ohio were key to victory, never really providing details behind Romney's economic plan to draw contrast with the lack of specifics beyond token tax increases for the rich in Obama's, a dated national campaign model and turnout operation, etc.

    November 28, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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