The Fine Print
It was too little, too late.
Washington Post correspondent Dan Balz, whose new book Collision 2012 provides in-depth reporting and analysis of the last presidential election, says the Romney campaign’s failure to humanize Mitt Romney was an important factor in sealing the candidate’s loss.
Balz tells “The Fine Print” that the more he reported on the campaign, the more “baffled” he became by the Romney team’s “inability to humanize Mitt Romney throughout the entire campaign.”
Balz recalls that it wasn’t until the last night of the Republican National Convention that the campaign revealed the more human side of Romney, when members of his church told a story about Romney helping their son, who had died of cancer.
“Mitt Romney became his friend, helped him write a will,” Balz recalls. “This was as poignant and human a testimony as we ever saw.”
But even after that testimonial, Balz says, “the campaign never did anything with it. They never put it in an ad. They didn't take opportunities.”
Additionally, Balz says the Obama campaign ran a “technically superior” organization and that he was surprised by “the degree to which the Obama operation superseded what they knew that had done in 2008.”
Another “stunning” discovery, Balz says, was “the degree of ambivalence of Mitt Romney” about running for president—an attitude he says Romney had even after forming an exploratory committee.
“I was told in the last summer that there'd been a family vote in late 2010,” Balz says. “There were twelve votes, 10 votes saying he shouldn't run, 2 saying he should. He was one of the 10 who said no.”
Following Romney’s ultimate loss, the former candidate agreed to an interview with Balz. He says it was clear during the interview that Romney was still grappling with the loss and trying “to understand why it had not worked better than it had.”
“There were elements of the campaign that he was still having trouble with,” Balz says. “I think there is also a feeling among a lot of Republicans that he could or should have run a better campaign … and he has to digest that as well.”
For more of the interview with Balz, including what he says the 2012 election shows about campaigns going forward, check out this episode of “The Fine Print.”
ABC's Betsy Klein, Gary Westphalen, Pat O'Gara, Brian Haefeli, and Barry Haywood contributed to this episode.