Four days ago, I told you that Mitt Romney had a “personal” problem. The Republican presidential nominee is personally involved in just about every aspect of his campaign. A devastating story in Politico today shows that Romney was personally involved in writing his nomination acceptance speech.
No, it’s not unusual for a candidate to write his or her own speeches, especially one as important as a nomination acceptance speech. What IS unusual is how Romney found himself helping to pull it all together less than a week before its Aug. 30 delivery.
In “How Mitt Romney stumbled,” Mike Allen chronicles how two earlier drafts of Romney’s convention speech, including a total rewrite submitted a few days before the convention was supposed to start, were trashed in favor of one “cobbled together by Stevens and Romney himself.”
Stevens is Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist of the Romney campaign. And according to the grumbling coming out of Boston, he’s also acting as the chief ad maker and the chief speechwriter. “It would be as if George W. Bush had run for president in 2000 with one person playing the roles of Karl Rove, Mark McKinnon and Michael Gerson,” Allen writes. “Or if on the Obama campaign of 2008, David Axelrod had not been backed up by Jim Margolis, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau.”
The red-hot spotlight of criticism is centered on Stevens. Yet, the ultimate responsibility belongs to the candidate. And we’ve seen him serve as his own foreign policy adviser and his own convention planner with disastrous results. As I wrote last Thursday, Romney is a man of many strengths. But one of his weaknesses seems to be supreme confidence in his own abilities.
“Romney cannot be both campaign manager and candidate. But he has effectively run his campaign that way,” a Republican operative told me. “His approach has been the CEO in charge — all roads leading to his door. That may work in the corporate world, but the business of politics requires a different skill set: allowing a strong manager to run your campaign free of your constant input.”
Stevens has been catching hell for months now about the campaign. And many have been calling on Romney to shake up his staff for just as long. Given Romney’s hands-on management style, I jokingly asked the GOP insider if I would be wrong in saying that the chief person who needs to go is Romney. “At this point, a staff shakeup would achieve very little,” was the response.