WASHINGTON -- Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has opened up about Romney’s loss at the polls, and where he places the blame for the campaign’s defeat.
Stevens, whose role within the campaign came under increasing scrutiny as the year went on, said in a Washington Post column Wednesday that in spite of Romney’s loss, he and his ideals “carried the day.”
“On Nov. 6, that wasn’t enough to win. But it was enough to make us proud and to build on for the future,” Stevens said.
Appearing on “CBS This Morning” on Thursday, Stevens highlighted two key weaknesses that, if given the chance, he would go back and fix.
“I think we should have done a better job reaching out to women voters -- the governor has a great record on women’s issues. We should have done a better job articulating that record,” he said. “We should have done a better job reaching out to Hispanic voters. We should have done it earlier and in a more effective way.”
Stevens also defended Romney’s widely criticized post-Election Day accusation that Obama won over supporters with various “gifts.”
“I think he [Romney] was saying that there was an effort that the incumbent used as many other incumbents have used to reach out to constituents,” Stevens said. “They had certain groups that they wanted to do well with and they did well with.”
Portraying Romney as the outsider candidate throughout the Republican primary and general campaign, Stevens claimed in his column that “nobody liked Romney except voters.”
“I appreciate that Mitt Romney was never a favorite of D.C.’s green-room crowd, or, frankly, of many politicians. That’s why, a year ago, so few of those people thought that he would win the Republican nomination,” Stevens claimed.
As for his victorious opponents, Stevens offered backhanded praise on CBS to the Obama team for reversing an alleged Democratic Party problem of “being too liberal and too dependent on minorities.”
“Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory,” Stevens said. “But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replace?”
Stevens also deemed the praise surrounding the Obama campaign’s ground game as “baffling.”
“I would give them more credit for their message in those states rather than just their ground game,” Stevens said. “It think it’s somewhat underselling what the Obama campaign did in their messaging capability to say it was just their ground game.”
And as for moving forward, Stevens urged Republicans to move on, content that they had “won the day” if not the election, and presumably also not placing some of the blame for Romney’s defeat at the feet of his chief strategist.
“Losing is just losing,” Stevens wrote. “It’s not a mandate to throw out every idea that the candidate championed, and I would hope it’s not seen as an excuse to show disrespect for a good man who fought hard for values we admire.”