Mitt Romney's speech at the Republican National Convention didn't exactly knock anybody's socks off, and according to a new Politico exposé there's a good reason for that: it was thrown together at the last minute. Thankfully, Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei report, there's somebody to blame.
Stuart Stevens, Romney's top strategist, evidently trashed the original RNC speech just 8-days before Romney was to go on stage and reassigned the task to George W. Bush's former speechwriters who were already hustling to finish Paul Ryan's speech. Then, the weekend before the convention, Stevens canned that their draft too, all except for one paragraph about a rose that Romney's father put on his mother's nightstand every day. Evidently, Stevens and Romney himself threw together the acceptance that the candidate ultimately delivered in the hours before the convention started.
Stevens, to his credit, is happy to take the blame. "Like all campaigns, we have good days and bad days," he told Politico. "I'm happy to take responsibility for the bad days." This kind of attitude has earned Stevens the designation, in Allen and Vandehei's words, of "the leading staff scapegoat for a campaign that suddenly is behind in a race that had been expected to stay neck and neck through Nov. 6." That speech, by the way, didn't do Romney any favors. According to a Gallup poll conducted just after the convention, 37 percent of Americans found it to be "OK," "poor" or "terrible."
Indeed, Romney has some work to do. A New York Times story published on Sunday night, a few hours after the Politico piece, frames the Romney campaign as somewhat adrift and preparing to refocus itself as we go into the final six weeks before the election. The latest polls show Romney trailing Obama in all of the key swing states, some by as much as 7 percent. Then again, six weeks can be an eternity in the election cycle, and Obama has no shortage of crises to deal with.