Now that Mitt Romney has lost and faded into a life of McDonald's, dad jeans, and Disneyland, his campaign advisers can talk freely about how badly they blew the election. Last week it was the misleading internal polls, and this afternoon, at last, comes the truth about the video that sent their candidate spiraling. As the embargo lifted for last week's 2012 Campaign Decision Makers Conference at Harvard Institute of Politics, out came the evidence that campaign manager Matt Rhoades was completely blindsided by the tape, and that chief strategist Stuart Stevens, who's been busy saving face, claims he left the room for Romney's infamous remarks at a fundraiser in Florida.
Here's audio from the conference — the key point appears at around 54:42 with CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger asking Stevens and Rhoades about the 47-percent tape:
What you're hearing is Stevens mumbling about not being in the room when this stuff went down, and Rhoades stating: "We didn't know it existed. I wasn't there ... Obviously, unfortunately, campaigns are long laborious processes and .... nobody's perfect." Of course this is a giant deal, because the video was rumored to be floating around way before it actually sprung up:
Interesting b/c it was circulating for months before the big break RT @zekejmiller:Matt Rhoades on 47% vid: “we didn’t know it existed.”— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) December 3, 2012
There's also an odd exchange in what follows next, when Rhoades says that Romney nobly took the blame for the 47 percent video — even though the campaign spent a lot of time not doing that before finally admitting it. Obviously, a big part of being a campaign manager or adviser like Stevens and Rhoades is knowing what kind of ammunition against your candidate is out there. Owning up to this a month after Election Day is, of course, a lot easier.