Note: This is a short excerpt from my soon to be released book Why Romney Won : The [Fictional] True Story of the Campaign That Should Have Been. It’s part alternative history, part political messaging manifesto. Permission granted to reprint this excerpt; in other words, blog this baby…
THINGS COMPLETELY CHANGED for the Mitt Romney campaign a few of days after the May 30th primary election in Texas, where candidate Romney had picked up enough votes to mathematically secure the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
Years of planning, work, defeat, reorganization and struggle had led to this moment: Mitt Romney was going to be the hope of the Grand Old Party, the candidate taking on Barack Obama in November, 2012.
[pullquote align=”right”]The nation vividly recalls the tragic irony of Mitt Romney losing almost every key campaign advisor, strategist and speech writer so soon after clinching the nomination[/pullquote]Then came the bolt out of the blue. Just days after achieving its dream, disaster struck the Romney campaign on June 2nd. A plane carrying members of Romney’s top campaign staff went down over the Colorado Rockies on their way to a victory / strategy retreat in Utah. Nearly the entire Romney brain trust was gone in an instant.
Today, of course, we know that tragedy was avoided. We all remember that happy day that everyone who was on board the plane was found safe by search and rescue teams just days after President Romney defeated Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
However, in those dark days back in early June when the Romney campaign jet went off the radar screen, the fate of those onboard was anything but certain. The nation vividly recalls the tragic irony of Mitt Romney losing almost every key campaign advisor, strategist and speech writer so soon after clinching the nomination and how that unprecedented story grabbed the headlines and held them for days.
Pundits on the left and right wondered if Romney would throw in the towel at that point. The White House issued a statement expressing condolences to the family that still somehow barely managed to conceal its glee at the sudden turn of events. Newt Gingrich graciously mentioned that he was ready to step in and take over his respected colleague’s pledged electoral votes. Nobody would have blamed Romney for quitting but in the wake of the accident there wasn’t even enough organizational prowess remaining to quit the race.
The campaign spent a couple of days in a complete shambles. Then suddenly a small display ad appeared in the print edition of Politico. It had a simple headline, set in understated 24 point Helvetica.
Wanted: Romney Campaign Strategists.
Here’s what happened: some low level Romney advisor whose name has been lost to history decided to take matters in their own hands amid the campaign’s staggered and solemn chaos. They placed the clumsy, amateurish ad without seeking approval from anyone. There wasn’t really anyone to seek approval from except the candidate and he was too busy on the phone with the frantic families of his former staffers.
The ad read:
Do you want to be part of the Romney victory this November? We are having an open call for campaign strategists, advisors and writers. Can YOU be part of our winning team or even be the ‘head coach’, so to speak? Please come on out and show us what you’ve got!
The gave the address of a Rockville, Maryland hotel and said the event would happen on June 7th.
Of course, as soon as news of the “Romney Open Call” broke, it instantly became a trending topic on Twitter. Slate’s Dave Weigel dubbed the event “Amerimitt Idol” and Wonkette wrote a column that was frankly obscene.
When called for comment, it was confirmed that someone inside the Romney camp had indeed placed the ad. The responsible party was promptly fired and is said to currently be working at a Five Guys Burger and Fries in Arlington, Virginia.
However, what was done was done. It was obviously a desperate and dumb move but everyone left in the Romney camp was too shellshocked to change anything. The meeting went on as scheduled, as ill thought out as it was.
It turned out to be a meeting that may have changed history.