Romney’s ’08 Iowa Chair On What Went Wrong: ‘He Became Almost A Caricature Of Himself’


It’s often been said that Mitt Romney has a talent for remaking himself in the image of whatever electorate he’s hoping to impress. When the goal was the governor’s office in Massachusetts in 2002, Romney was pro-choice. When the goal became the Republican presidential nomination, Romney was pro-life.

Romney’s ability to change his political stripes to suit the situation has been a key to his success. There’s little doubt that he got as close to the nomination in 2008 as he did because he was able to convince a broad swath of conservative voters he was one of them. But according to one of the men who helped him make his case back then — asked by National Journal to muse on Romney’s next presidential bid — Romney lost something important when he shifted to meet the conservative base head on: his credibility.From Romney’s 2008 Iowa chair Daniel Gross:

“No one questions his CEO abilities, but last time, he dove so far to the right trying to appeal to Christian conservatives that he became almost a caricature of himself. I think a number of people are skeptical of his ability to connect with the average voter.”

National Journal reports Gross “hasn’t jumped aboard” Romney’s 2012 effort yet. As the magazine suggests, that’s something of a common problem for Romney. Though he’s among the biggest names in the nebulous GOP 2012 field and as close to a frontrunner as the Republicans have, NJ’s Beth Reinhard reports that “nobody assumes he’ll win.”

TPM asked Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom for his take on Gross’ view of the 2008 race. He didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

But he gave Reinhard a different take on what happened in 2008 and suggested those holding their breath for a Romney 2012 announcement in the immediate future shouldn’t hold their breath.

“The big lesson we learned from last time was that we got started too early,” Fehrnstrom said. “We’re in no hurry to announce our plans.”