Stuart Stevens: "Mitt Romney - A Good Man, the Right Fight" on Washington Post
. . . 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.
In the debates and in sweeping rallies across the country, Romney captured the imagination of millions of Americans. He spoke for those who felt disconnected from the Obama vision of America. He handled the unequaled pressures of a campaign with a natural grace and good humor that contrasted sharply with the angry bitterness of his critics.
There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?
Yes, the Republican Party has problems, but as we go forward, let’s remember that any party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right. When Mitt Romney stood on stage with President Obama, it wasn’t about television ads or whiz-bang turnout technologies, it was about fundamental Republican ideas vs. 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.
On Nov. 6, that wasn’t enough to win. But it was enough to make us proud and to build on for the future.
Stuart Stevens on CBS with Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell
STEVENS: . . . I’m a bit baffled as to why people look at the Obama campaign and say they won because of their ground game – at face value, when they turned out more voters four years ago than they did this time. I would give them more credit for their message in those states rather than just their ground game. I think it’s somewhat underselling what the Obama campaign did in their messaging capability to say it was just their ground game.
ROSE: Let’s talk about who voted. You made a point in the op-ed that Romney won people who make more than $50,000. We have the Governor speaking about the fact that the Obama campaign paid its voters and certainly it’s lower income voters. That seems to me a bit of sour grapes.
STEVENS: I don’t think that’s what he was saying. I think he was saying that there was an effort that the incumbent used as many other incumbents have used to reach out to constituents. That’s something we’ve seen in politics going back for a long time. They did it effectively. They had certain groups that they wanted to do well with and they did well with. We had certain groups we wanted to do well with and we would have done, would have won if we had done better with them.
ROSE: So was this a vote between the rich in America and those of the haves and have-nots, in your judgment?
STEVENS: No, not at all. I don’t think Anna Wintour was having fundraisers at her apartment and raising millions and millions of dollars for Barack Obama.
. . .O’DONNELL: Stu, you made the point in your Washington Post article that Mitt Romney won every group of voters making over $50,000 a year and that he did better than John McCain among white voters. But didn’t you underestimate the size of the minority vote?
STEVENS: Well, I think it’s a case where the Obama campaign did a very good job of speaking to voters who felt that his presidency had been a success. When you look at the numbers in this, there was a sharp divide between those that felt that the President had been successful and those who felt that they weren’t. That’s not uncommon. We saw the same thing in 2004 with the Bush campaign where there was a sharp divide between those that thought that he had done a lousy job and those that thought he had done a very good job. The battle in that campaign was for each campaign to turn out those who thought that each side had done a good job. They were able to turn out those that thought that the President had done a successful job. I think that their messaging spoke to them. I think that the images of the President in the storm were very helpful to him. It reminded them of what they liked about the President. It was successful.
ROSE: Let me get in one point here. So you had this election to do over, even though George Bush said, “I don’t do do-overs,” what is the big mistake that you as the adviser to the candidate and the candidate made in this election? What might have made Romney president?
STEVENS: It’s a great question. It’s a tough question. We’ve talked about it a lot. I think we should have done a better job reaching out to women voters – the Governor has a great record on women’s issues. We should have done a better job articulating that record. We should have done a better job reaching out to Hispanic voters. We should have done it earlier. And in a more effective way. And I think looking forward those are questions for the party. I think we have a very good message there. We just have to do a better job with it.
Oh for effs sake. I just read the Stu Stevens piece and my BRAIN IS BURNING WITH FIRE.— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) November 28, 2012
Shorter Romney spox: "We could have won, except for the entire GOP platform" tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/11/stuart…— Matt Jones (@al2o3cr) November 29, 2012
This Stuart Stevens op-ed reads like much of it was drafted before Election Day. washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-goo…— Simon Maloy (@SimonMaloy) November 28, 2012
Agree w/Stuart Stevens: Romney campaign was a "national movement". Latinos & women across the nation moved as far as they could from him.— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) November 28, 2012
If Stu Stevens' private advice for Romney was as delusional as this op-ed, no wonder he lost. wapo.st/U2JDvY— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) November 28, 2012
Stuart Stevens, Buffoon
. . . Stevens seems to argue that Romney practically won, because he won a majority of voters who make more than $50,000 a year. “That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters,” Stevens claims. What a skewed, self-serving way of dividing up the world.
First of all, the median household income in the U.S. is $50,000; median personal income is around $40,000. So most Americans make less than $50,000; they’re not some tiny fringe group. Also, I’m sure that lots of people who make in the $25,000 to $50,000 range consider themselves middle-class. They’ll enjoy Stevens consigning them to the pool of low-income Obama dependents. And the notion that voters who aren’t middle-class don’t matter is disturbing, but no surprise coming from the guy who backed Mr. 47 Percent.
. . . Earth to Stuart? Those “minorities” are about to be the majority.
Essentially Stevens advises Republicans to stick to their elitist, plutocratic guns, because the Democrats won’t have a charismatic black guy fronting for them in 2016. Go ahead, GOP, listen to him. Please.
~ Joan Walsh on Salon
Stuart Stevens should have kept it to himself
. . . Stevens fails in precisely the way in which the campaign failed: a refusal to acknowledge real and material incompetence by himself and others on the campaign. The piece stubbornly refuses to express regrets or apologies for a campaign that, as evidence has come forth, makes “The Perils of Pauline” look like the Rockettes.
. . . It would be fitting, and certainly less grating, if Stevens included some real acknowledgment that the narrow loss is, in large part, attributable to the errors (we now know) he and his fellow, well-paid advisers made. He writes as if the only thing he didn’t do right was have a winning campaign. Hardly.
~ Romney supporter Jennifer Rubin on Washington Post
We'll Always Have Denver
. . . Ah yes, Denver. Denver, Denver. Leave aside that the first debate wasn't really about "fundamental Republican ideas vs. fundamental Democratic ideas" since Romney trounced Obama in the debate precisely by Etch-a-Sketching his campaign positions and tacking away from the party line—above all on the subject of taxes—at such a clip that it left Obama adrift and bewildered. Regardless, for those 90 minutes, and the media-ballyhooed polling surge that followed, Romney looked like he might be a winner. But then he wasn't. Oh well. Thanks, guys.
~ Alec McGillis on The New Republic
President Kennedy once said that, "Victory has 100 fathers but defeat is an orphan." Sadly, this singular truth has somehow managed to evade a number of Republicans, including Stuart Stevens, the Romney Campaign's top strategist. He's just the latest in a long line of apologists including the candidate himself that try to explain the loss in a way that comes perilously close to insulting the electorate. . . . First it was Mitt Romney who accused the president of bribing the electorate with free stuff. That was very effective. Now we have Mr. Stevens, another Olympic Gymnast of Self-Justification, who comes out and his big silver lining saying Mr. Romney only lost among voters who make less than $50,000 a year. Is the painful truth too hard for these men to bear?
~ Martin Bashir on MSNBC
Stuart is a friend of mine. I know him from politics for a long time, so I wouldn't trash him personally. I think he's being loyal and describing an election that, when he puts his spin on it, was closer than some others would like to say. I think the big thing that Republicans like Stuart are missing is that there's a whole new electorate out there that they are not appealing to, and by failing to offer solutions to ordinary Americans' problems the Republicans had nothing to offer beyond the same tax cut mantra and demonization of Obama as a Socialist, and that won't work anymore. That day is past.
~ Matt Miller, WaPo Columnist, on Martin Bashir Live
I have met Stuart. He's not a friend of mine, but you read the piece he wrote in The Washington Post, you listen to that stuff . . . and you say no wonder Romney lost. The arguments he's making are both fantasy and they're pernicious. He says crazy things like no one in Washington, in the Washington Green Room, ever thought Mitt Romney was going to be the nominee. It took a movement to get him the nomination. Everybody thought he was going to be the nominee! And what was the cause that was at the heart of this movement? Secondly, he says, well, look, the guy won the whiter, wealthier vote, and, therefore, we carried the day. That's a line out of Saturday Night Live! The truth of the matter is if that's all you got and you didn't get 270 electoral votes , I suppose you have received the Jim Crow prize for second place finish in the presidential campaign. It's crazy.
~ Democratic Strategist Bob Shrum on Martin Bashir Live