Mitt Romney's long-disbanded campaign staff was never exactly known for comity. Throughout the summer and fall of 2012, as the presidential race grew more and more heated, Romney staffers continually leaked stories of in-fighting and blame games to the political press, culminating in a scathing Politico report calling campaign strategist Stuart Stevens a "scapegoat" for Romney's polling woes. That storied tradition continues to this day, seven months later, with Zeke Miller's Time piece on "senior advisor" Gabriel Schoenfeld — and a sneak peek at his 74-page eBook, A Bad Day On The Romney Campaign, which comes out on May 14. The gist: Romney should have listened to Schoenfeld more. Duh.
When Richard Grenell, the openly gay former spokesman for the US Mission to the UN, resigned his post as Romney’s foreign policy spokesman due to criticism from the media and social conservatives, Schoenfeld wanted the post — a way back into the inner circle — but was rebuffed, he writes. “After Grenell fell under the bus, I sought to move into the empty position, believing that the campaign sorely needed an experienced hand in this area. I found my way blocked by Chen, so I turned to Stevens for assistance, but he was disinclined to help,” he writes in a footnote.
The strategy here is simple. Schoenfeld wants to distance himself from Romney's loss without downplaying his stature within the campaign. After all, Schoenfeld still wants to work in politics. (His eBook's subtitle reads: HOW DID ROMNEY LOSE? HOW CAN REPUBLICANS STILL WIN?) He was just trying to help — but was blocked from doing so!
But even that story doesn't seem to hold up. In an update appended to the online Time profile, Miller writes:
UPDATE 3:38 pm: After publication, deputy campaign manager Katie Packer Gage emailed to say “the notion that Gabe was a “senior advisor” to Mitt Romney is ridiculous.”
“If he had any specific expertise it was so overshadowed by his inability to work with people that it made it impossible to utilize him,” she added.
Whatever Schoenfeld's actual responsibility, his eBook (priced at $2.99) is sure to score a few thousand downloads — and, hopefully, provide some closure to its author, if not the millions of Americans who voted for his boss.
UPDATE, 6:40 PM — There's even more squabbling. Miller has updated his post for a second time with comment from Schoenfeld, who insists that "he was indeed a senior adviser on the campaign and forwarded his pay-stub to prove it":
Unfortunately, the statement provided to you by Romney deputy campaign manager Katie Packer Gage was incorrect. She said “the notion that Gabe was a ‘senior advisor’ to Mitt Romney is ridiculous.”
The fact that the deputy campaign manager has stooped to misrepresenting the very job title the campaign gave me—“senior adviser”—a title they put on their own employment documents, shows just how desperate some are to hide the truth.