Former Romney Strategist Warns Technology Is Not the GOP’s Panacea
(WASHINGTON) — It’s not over yet — the 2012 presidential campaign, that is. At least not if you ask Mitt Romney’s former top strategist, Stuart Stevens, who has been writing and talking a lot about blame lately.
“There seems to be a desire to blame Republicans’ electoral difficulties and the Romney campaign’s loss on technological failings,” Stevens wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Monday. “I wish this were the problem, because it would be relatively easy to fix. But it’s not.”
Stevens went on to argue that it was a generation and message gap that ailed the GOP last year and ultimately paved the way for President Obama’s victory over Romney. The Democrats’ superior technology — and Republicans’ weaknesses in this area — was only part of the problem, he wrote.
Stevens, who along with a handful of other strategists helped guide the Romney campaign throughout the election cycle, has been re-litigating the campaign in op-eds as well as in interviews, like his recent conversation with ABC’s Jonathan Karl on This Week and another one with CNN’s Howard Kurtz, host of Reliable Sources.
Of Romney’s loss last November, Stevens told Kurtz that he takes “full responsibility.”
“Just blame me,” he said in an interview that aired on Sunday. “That’s fine. And let’s move on.”
But Stevens did reserve some criticism for the new social media environment — exemplified by Twitter — that he says has led to a strained relationship between political operatives and the press. Reporters, he said, “need a news story every two hours, and that’s a great pressure.”
“It creates, I think, an environment that is very conducive to the creation of news, the invention of news,” he added.
As for Twitter, Stevens acknowledged that he has an account (which he says he checks “obsessively”) but he does not tweet himself. “It’s a great thing and it’s a very dangerous thing,” he said.
And in an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl earlier this month, he underscored his analysis in Monday’s Washington Post op-ed that technology is only part of the prescription for his party.
“It would be a great mistake if we felt that technology in itself is going to save the Republican Party,” he told Karl in an interview on Feb. 17. “Technology is something, to a large degree, you can go out and purchase, and if we think there’s an off-the-shelf solution that you can [buy] with the Republican Party it’s wrong.”
Even so, Republicans have dispatched national party chairman Reince Priebus to California this week to tackle the GOP’s technology gap. According to Roll Call’s David Drucker, Priebus plans to visit the San Francisco Bay Area, meeting with technology executives as well as representatives from Facebook. He will also reportedly head to Seattle for meetings aimed at improving Republicans’ early voting efforts.
And we’re about to get a chance to hear from Romney himself about what went wrong in 2012 — and where the GOP should go from here. The former Massachusetts governor and his wife, Ann, are set to appear on Fox News Sunday next weekend. It will be the former Republican presidential hopeful’s first major interview since the election. One week later, he is scheduled to address the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, D.C.
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