If Mitt Romney’s campaign could go back and fix one mistake in order to win the election, chief strategist Stuart Stevens said in an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Thursday, it would be improving outreach to women and Hispanic voters.
Stevens’ latest assessment had a strikingly different emphasis than the one he wrote for the Washington Post a day earlier. In an op-ed he penned for the newspaper, he said the Republican campaign could take comfort in the fact that it won wealthier and whiter voters and held onto the moral victory over President Obama.
But Stevens’ softer tone in the Thursday interview involved him admitting there were some mistakes he would like to change in a do-over scenario.
“We should have done a better job reaching out to Hispanic voters,” Stevens said. “We should have done it earlier. And in a more effective way. And looking forward, those are questions for the party. I think we have a very good message there. We just have to do a better job with it.”
The same goes for women voters, he said. “The governor has a great record on women’s issues. We should have done a better job articulating that record.”
During the second presidential debate, Romney’s most famous attempt to appeal to women went awry. He tried to play up his record of bringing women into his cabinet as Massachusetts governor, but it resulted in the unfortunate “binders full of women” meme.
But there were other times when he alienated women and Hispanics during the GOP primary. Clips of Romney saying he would “get rid” of Planned Parenthood and veto the DREAM Act haunted him over the course of the campaign. He also wouldn’t commit to legislation that promoted gender equity in the workplace. Overall, Romney’s message to Hispanic and women voters was the same over-arching economic message of his entire campaign.
Still, Stevens repeated many of the same points in the interview that he wrote in the op-ed. The major themes of the campaign were still the right ones to go with, he said on Thursday. “I certainly don’t think it was the ideas. I think the ideas carried the day for us.”
Stevens also played down Romney’s post-election comments blaming the loss on “big gifts” the president gave to minorities and women, among other groups.
“I think he was saying there was an effort that the incumbent used as many other incumbents have used to reach out to constituents,” Stevens said in the interview. “That’s something we’ve seen in politics going back for a long time. They did it effectively. They had certain groups that they wanted to do well with and they did well with.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.