Mitt Romney’s campaign quickly put together and executed a five-point damage control plan in mid-September after video of the Republican’s now-infamous 47 percent remark leaked, campaign manager Matt Rhoades said in comments made public on Monday.
“When you’re on a campaign, you have to fight back,” Rhoades said at Harvard University’s 2012 Campaign Decision Makers Conference. The conference was held last week, but a recording of it was only made public on Monday. “So what we did is we put together a basic, simple, five-point plan that we knew we had to execute on if we had any chance of coming back.”
First on the agenda was to have a successful first debate on Oct. 3, Rhoades said. The second was to “gin up our surrogate load,” sending senators and governors throughout the country to “speak to the governor’s character.” Third, the advisers decided Romney would give three big speeches, hitting on foreign policy, jobs and the economy, deficit and entitlements. The fourth point called for a reexamination of the resources being spent in key states. Finally, the campaign changed the staging of Romney’s events, putting the candidate behind a podium and having him read from notes rather than pacing the stage and shouting as he had been doing up to that point.
The video of Romney speaking about 47 percent of Americans at a Florida fundraiser in May came as he was battling Obama’s convention bump, his own convention’s failures and above all his botched response to the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
“This obviously was the epitome of low during the course of a campaign,” Rhoades said. Even if the plan didn’t work, he added, “it gave our campaign something to focus on and something to execute on.”
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.