“Romney’s strategists WORRIED that stressing his personal side would backfire, ”
Faced with a winning action plan in front of them, Republican campaign consultants talk themselves out of almost every thing that might actually work.
Campaign consultants are experts at sitting around and fretting, and squirming, and twisting themselves into pretzels and finding some reason not to do what needs to be done.
Republican strategists are experts at shooting themselves and their candidate in the foot.
One of the gravest errors, many say, was the Romney team’s failure, until too late in the campaign, to sell voters on the candidate’s personal qualities and leadership gifts. The effect was to open the way for Obama to define Romney through an early blitz of negative advertising. Election Day polls showed that the vast majority of voters concluded that Romney did not really care about average people.
Republicans, as it happened, had lost track of their own winning formula. Democrats said they followed the trail blazed in 2004 by the Bush campaign which used an array of databases to “microtarget” voters and a sophisticated field organization to turn them out. Obama won in part by updating the GOP’s innovation.
Romney’s inner circle of family and friends understood the candidate’s weakness all too well: He was a deeply private person, with an aversion to revealing too much of himself to the public. They worried that unless the candidate opened up, he would too easily be reduced to caricature, as a calculating man of astounding wealth, a man unable to relate to average folks, a man whose Mormon faith put him outside the mainstream.
Romney’s eldest son, Tagg, drew up a list of 12 people whose lives had been helped by his father in ways that were publicly unknown but had been deeply personal and significant, such as assisting a dying teenager in writing a will or quietly helping families in financial need. Such compelling vignettes would have been welcome material in almost any other campaign. But Romney’s strategists worried that stressing his personal side would backfire, and a rift opened between some in Romney’s circle and his strategists that lasted until the convention.