Mitt Romney’s inner circle: Who are these guys?
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s recently-concluded foreign trip brought heavy criticism onto his candidacy from some within his party and once again shone a light on his senior campaign staff.
But, for all that chatter, it’s hard to imagine any real re-alignment within Romney’s political inner circle — a group of men and women who have been by Romney’s side dating back at least four years and, for many, far longer than that.
These are the people who refer to Romney simply as “The Gov” and who take pride in their airtight leaklessness — modeled off of then candidate Obama’s 2008 campaign — and bristle at what they believe to be the misreading of the race by the Washington crowd.
Back in 2010, we did a piece outlining Romney’s tight-knit band of advisers. We’ve revised and extended that list below. Scroll down to meet the Romney political inner circle.
The Romney Inner Circle
*Matt Rhoades: Rhoades is a semi-reclusive figure who served as communications director for Romney’s 2008 bid and went on to run the former Massachusetts governor’s Free and Strong America PAC in the period between presidential races. As campaign manager in this race, Rhoades prides himself on avoiding inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom. While he is among the least high-profile of Romney’s political advisers, he is without question the beating heart of the operation — consulted on matters large and small.
* Ed Gillespie: Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, is one of the few new arrivals to crack the Romney inner circle. Gillespie is widely regarded as one of the party’s best television communicators and on the Romney team is tasked with long-term message and strategy development.
* Neil Newhouse: Newhouse is Romney’s pollster and a partner in the well-regarded Public Opinion Strategies firm. Newhouse, who has been living in Boston since last spring, did polling for Romney’s successful 2002 gubernatorial bid and was the lead pollster for Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s massive special election upset in 2010.
* Beth Myers: Myers served as chief of staff during Romney’s time as governor and managed the 2008 race. She is now leading the vice presidential search, a sign of just how much the governor trusts her and her judgment.
* Eric Fehrnstrom: Fehnstrom has been at the center of some of the larger gaffe-related controversies regarding Romney — Etch-a-Sketch anyone? — but he is also perhaps the staffer closest to Romney personally. Fehnrstrom’s relationship with Romney was cemented during the 2008 campaign when he served as traveling press secretary but the two also have history; Fehnstrom served as Romney’s deputy campaign manager in the 2002 governor’s race.
* Stuart Stevens/Russ Schriefer: Romney had many — too many, according to some — media consultants on his team during the 2008 presidential campaign. Stevens and Schriefer are the only image men left standing. A sign of how important their role is? Stevens was along for the Romney foreign trip.
* Kevin Madden: Madden, the telegenic spokesman for Romney in 2008, had played a lesser role in this campaign — until now. Madden will be traveling more with Romney in the coming weeks and months as the campaign enters its final stages.
* Spencer Zwick: Commonly referred to as the sixth Romney son, Zwick is tasked with raising the money for the campaign. And the fact that Romney and the Republican National Committee ended July with a $170 million to $144 million cash-on-hand edge over President Obama and the Democratic National Committee speaks to how well Zwick has done. (Honorable mention goes to Mason Fink who along with Zwick directs the Romney money machine.)
* Peter Flaherty: Flaherty is Romney’s go-to guy in outreach to conservatives, the same critical role he played for the governor in the 2008 presidential race. Flaherty, like Myers and Fehnrstrom, goes way back with Romney; he served as Romney’s deputy chief of staff in the governor’s office.
* Bob White: White is a longtime Romney confidante — they worked together at Bain Capital — and is almost always by the former governor’s side, a sort of personal councilor on the campaign trail.
* Ben Ginsberg/Katie Biber Chen: Ginsberg is a major wheel in the campaign finance law community in DC and also a longtime Romney confidante. Biber Chen is general counsel to the campaign.
* Ron Kaufman: Kaufman, a principal at the Dutko Group, is the insider’s insider and serves as a behind-the-scenes advocate for Romney within the professional political class in Washington.
* Jim Talent/Mike Leavitt: Talent, the former Missouri Senator, was along for the foreign trip over the past week — a sign of the trust Romney puts in him on domestic and foreign policy. Leavitt, the former Utah governor, is leading the transition planning if/when Romney wins.
* Senior staff (Gail Gitcho, Andrea Saul, Rich Beeson, Katie Packer Gage, Lanhee Chen and Zac Moffatt): Gitcho, the communications director, and Saul guide the Romney’s press effort while Beeson and Packer Gage watch over the political operation. Chen is the campaign’s policy director and traveled overseas with Romney this past week. Moffatt runs the increasingly important digital operation for the campaign.