Politico‘s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei have an epic post up on the Romney campaign’s infighting over the past few weeks. Allen and VandeHei paint the campaign as one that’s going through internal turmoil just weeks ahead of the election.
A key nugget comes at the top, as Allen and VandeHei detail the mess that went into drafting Mitt Romney’s speech to the Republican National Convention:
Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s top strategist, knew his candidate’s convention speech needed a memorable mix of loft and grace if he was going to bound out of Tampa with an authentic chance to win the presidency. So Stevens, bypassing the speech-writing staff at the campaign’s Boston headquarters, assigned the sensitive task of drafting it to Peter Wehner, a veteran of the last three Republican White Houses and one of the party’s smarter wordsmiths.
Not a word Wehner wrote was ever spoken.
Stevens junked the entire thing, setting off a chaotic, eight-day scramble that would produce an hour of prime-time problems for Romney, including Clint Eastwood’s meandering monologue to an empty chair.
Politico’s sources range from campaign insiders to a “person who recently was alone with Romney.” They point most of the blame to Stevens, who “cobbled together” Romney’s speech with Romney himself.
The speech-drafting serves as the anecdote to the larger problem in the story: Romney’s staff is disorganized, running a campaign that many conservatives said is “specifics-free and lame” and fails to differentiate Romney from President Barack Obama.
It also lacks manpower — Allen and VandeHei point to a “design flaw” in the campaign that has forced Stevens into three major jobs: chief strategist, chief ad maker and chief speechwriter.
One “Romney friend” slammed the campaign for employing basically the same approach during both the primary and general elections:
As mishaps have piled up, Stevens has taken the brunt of the blame for an unwieldy campaign structure that, as the joke goes among frustrated Republicans, badly needs a consultant from Bain & Co. to straighten it out.
“You design a campaign to reinforce the guy that you’ve got,” said a longtime Romney friend. “The campaign has utterly failed to switch from a primary mind-set to a general-election mind-set, and did not come up with a compelling, policy-backed argument for credible change.”