By day’s end, talk radio host Laura Ingraham had asked listeners whether the vacationing candidate should “get off the jet ski,” and influential commentator William Kristol, who recently returned from a private retreat with Romney and his senior strategists, had bemoaned the campaign’s “dangerous self-delusion.” Without a course correction, Kristol posited, Romney would suffer the same fate as the last two presidential nominees from Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis and John F. Kerry, both Democrats.
Romney’s advisers strongly rejected the course-correction suggestion but said they have been in the process of recruiting more political muscle to his Boston-based headquarters.
The campaign plans to bolster its rapid response and overall messaging operations and to assemble a senior staff for the eventual vice presidential running mate, according to strategists close to the campaign. They said some Republicans who have been informally advising the campaign may assume more official duties, including appearing as surrogates on television. The strategists said the moves could be announced as early as next week.
One GOP strategist not working for Romney said, “The campaign needs to show the GOP elite world and the media a lot of competence going forward or this shake-up talk will only get louder and continue.”
There are no plans, however, to alter Romney’s core team of advisers, most of whom have worked for the former Massachusetts governor for years, and campaign officials said it was highly unlikely that Romney would demote or fire any of his senior staffers.
“I don’t sense any panic. I don’t sense that any heads are going to roll,” said Tom Rath, a longtime senior adviser to Romney. “The idea that this guy at this point having gone through what he’s gone through is going to somehow scramble the eggs on the team — they don’t know Mitt Romney.”
“The idea that somebody other than Beth Myers, Eric Fehrnstrom, Matt Rhoades, Stuart Stevens and Peter Flaherty are going to call the shots, it’s just plain wrong,” Rath said, ticking through Romney’s closest advisers, including Rhoades, the campaign manager, and Stevens, the chief strategist.
Gail Gitcho, the campaign’s communications director, said, “Governor Romney respects the team that he has, and he has full confidence in their abilities.”