February 22nd, 2013
06:37 PM ET
7 years ago

Top Romney strategist: 'Blame me'

(CNN) - Mitt Romney's top campaign strategist has a simple message for soul-searching Republicans wondering how their presidential nominee lost: "I take full responsibility."

Stuart Stevens was a senior adviser for Romney and had a hand in a variety of campaign functions, including strategy and advertising.

When the campaign hit its rockier days, his name was tossed around by some insiders seeking an explanation - or scapegoat – for its struggles.

And in an exclusive interview with CNN's "Reliable Sources" set to run on Sunday, Stevens said he takes responsibility.

"Let's don't have period where we go back and we try to say, ‘well, let's blame this person,’" he said. "Just blame me. That's fine. And let's move on."

In a post-election interview with CBS News, Stevens said Romney's loss did not mean a defeat for Republican Party ideas because President Barack Obama won by focusing on several state-level issues, while Romney argued the big picture of "debt, entitlement [and] the future of the country."

Images of Obama touring the damage from Superstorm Sandy in late October helped his effort, too, he added.

Three months out from the election, the GOP is in autopsy mode. It is dissecting aspects of the campaign such as message and outreach to minority groups. A number of Republican rising stars have offered their views of how the party should move forward.

In the CNN interview, Stevens said it would be appropriate at this point for Republicans to be upset.

"It's good that people are angry. You know, I played a lot of sports. It's the worst thing to be in the - a losing locker room and people aren't upset," he said. "This is a moment we should be going through. It's good."

But the party should harness that, he said, and "go on and win races and learn from what we did."

- CNN's Gregory Wallace and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report

Filed under: Mitt Romney
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. NotFooledByDistractions

    I don't believe Mr. Stevens is completely to blame. His rudderless, unprincipled and conviction-less candidate bears the brunt of the responsibility for the loss. Romney stood for nothing, had no true principles – and voters aren't swayed by that. Another killer component is the archaic ideology of the republican party. I'd put less of the responsibility on the loss on stevens than I would on romney and the republican party.

    February 22, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  2. Anthony in California

    You didnt lose because of your strategy.
    You lost because of what you stand for.
    These guys STILL dont get it.

    February 22, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  3. Bill

    How quaint. The fact is Romney was the worst candidate for president in a generation. That is why he lost.

    February 22, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  4. Mark

    BS! Alexithymic Mitt lost because even his own party had to hold their noses to vote for him. And the mail in ballots BEFORE Sandy showed the President way ahead. Stevens is willing to be the scapegoat to save the faces of both Mitt and the GOP.

    February 22, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  5. Chipster

    Mr. Stevens, If it's your fault then it really says a lot about what a poor candidate Romney was. If he couldn't even lead his own campaign, he certainly had no business leading the nation. I'd personally like to thank you!

    February 22, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  6. MaryM

    lol, the blame is with ALL the GOP. Look at your CPAC speakers. THAT is your problem.

    February 22, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  7. beevee

    A self consoling BS from a guy who is taking the blame for an election loss. If Stevens run all the strategies of a lost campaign what was Mr. Romney doing? He should have been the leader in running the campaign but not let it run by advisers. If he had won he would be another puppet president. Thank god Obama won.

    February 22, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  8. Aubrey

    This guy and his likes have it all wrong. Totally wrong! It was not their advertising or strategies but that the majority of the American electorate rejected Romney and what he and the Tea-Republicans stand for. It was a vote for Pres. Obama–not against Romney. They still don't get it. Probably never will.

    February 22, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  9. freedom

    The ones most accountable for the loss are the American people – they need to think for themselves again – like before we had the 24 hr news cycle and all the social media – get their news from many sources – don't rely only on soundbites – think about how our country started, the progress we've made, how they feel when they wake up in the morning and face the day – is it safe? is there opportunity? are you grateful? are you willing to do what it takes to make this country thrive again? will it sustain and thrive for future generations?

    February 22, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  10. Thomas

    It's the worst thing to be in the – a losing locker room and people aren't upset..

    Romney is the reason the republican party lost . There is no honer in being a paid fall guy !

    February 22, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  11. yanni

    So it was president Obama’s fault to won the election by focusing on several state level issues and of course Sandy's too. What is the lesson here for the RP don't focus on the big picture and pray for Sandy to never come back again?

    February 22, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  12. Jeff O'Dette

    Repubs are never gonna win a general election again. EVER. Get religion out of politics. Out of schools. Out of every thing thats important.

    February 22, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  13. RomneyWho

    From Mitch McConnell saying that his number one priority is to make sure President Barack Obama is a one term president, the republican leadership obstructing everything that had the president's name on it, even if it was initiated by them first, can you say Romney care? "Repeal, Obama Care" (Health Care Reform, initiated by Nixon) The debt ceiling debacle that caused the down grade of america's credit rating. Let us not forget the self inflected sequester that's looming. The Birther's, the lies told about the sitting president and his policies. A bunch of republican clown candidates, Romney flip flopping all over the place. Hello, the American people were watching all of this, we witnessed first hand, the republican leadership, hypocrisy and high treason. You republicans lost way before the race started . . . Period. 😦

    February 22, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  14. Randy, San Francisco

    Steven still doesn't get it. Romney lost because he had to pander to Tea Partiers, anti-immigration, and extreme social/fiscal conservatives. There was no way he could shift back towards the middle of political spectrum to attract moderates, independents, women, and Hispanics. Campaigns are about ideas. Republican ideas were rejected by voters.

    February 22, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  15. Tom

    Oh, how noble. "Throw me under the bus, not Mitt." Sorry but the candidate is ultimately in charge. Mitt lost the election, not his subordinates. Also, this sounds like another attempt to imply Obama won in 2012 because he got lucky and ran a clever campaign. Romney lost because he didn't come across as being in touch with everyday Americans and the constant flip-flops made everyone (conservatives and liberals) unsure what, if anything, he actually stood for. Mitt lost. End of story. Let's move on.

    February 22, 2013 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  16. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    If the message that they learned was that it was the messenger, and not the message than they have learned nothing!

    It's 2013 NOT 1913!

    People support those that share their values, and not the values of Plutocrats!

    February 22, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  17. jarvis guthrie

    My fellow american do not blame yourself but blame all your fellow republican voters For not voting as malchom x said by any means neccessary '

    February 22, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  18. enuff

    Romney lost because of Romney. It's pathetic that he is willing to fall on his sword per se so that republicans can.blame someone other than themselves for picking such a poor candidate. Even Tagg Romney admitted his father's heart was not.100% in the game.

    February 22, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  19. Martha in CF

    Oh, I think the Romney's had ALOT to do with it!!!!!!!!

    February 22, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  20. Midwestmatt

    This is how grown ups deal with negative outcomes they're responsible for causing.

    Take note, other leaders across the world, especially CEOs who whine about tax levels hurting the business they run instead of coming to grips with their own errors, this is how you deal with failure. You own it and you learn from it.

    February 23, 2013 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  21. anonoymous

    How can the gop claim that they know what's best for the future of the country when they keep talking about the past? Mr Obama is president lets move forward.

    February 23, 2013 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  22. Going In Circles

    They still dont get it.
    Its not the messenger, its the message.....idiots.

    February 23, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  23. GI Joe

    He tried, but as yet NO ONE has been able to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

    February 23, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  24. Marie MD

    Nice of him to take the blame but when you have a flawed candidate there's not much you can do to make it better.
    The twit campaigned for over 10 years and lost every step of the way. He was the least moderate from the gang of crazies.
    When you can't even buy a campaignwith over $400M you know your candidate was the worst ever!

    February 23, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  25. Natalie

    Nah....we can't let you take full responsibility. Romney was pretty much a pawn to the wealthy who is clueless as to what the average American deals with; he did most of that to himself just by being Mitt.

    February 23, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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