Romney strategist downplays potential convention bounce: ‘All bets are off’

Holly Bailey

TAMPAMitt Romney's top political strategist downplayed expectations that the presumptive GOP nominee will get a polling bounce coming out of the Republican National Convention, suggesting this convention is different from those in the past.

Speaking to reporters on board Romney's plane en route to Tampa, Stuart Stevens, a senior Romney adviser, said factors like Hurricane Isaac and the "back-to-back" scheduling of the RNC and Democratic National Convention could potentially depress any convention bump for the GOP ticket.

"The conventions are different now. They are later now," Stevens said.

He also pointed to massive spending by President Barack Obama's re-election campaign and its Democratic allies on negative ads against Romney—suggesting it could potentially depress any jump in the polls.

"We've never come into a convention where another campaign has spent a half a billion dollars plus the outside groups," Stevens said. "I just think all bets are off about any kind of past performance being a predictor of the future."

Stevens' comments come just weeks after a senior Romney adviser suggested Romney would see an 11-point bump out of the RNC. The adviser, who declined to be named, made the prediction just a day before Rep. Paul Ryan was named as Romney's vice-presidential running mate. The adviser told reporters Romney would see a bounce from both his VP and the convention.

But even as he tried to manage expectations about Romney's polling, Stevens argued that Romney enters his convention "tied" with Obama.

"If the election were held tomorrow, we would win and win pretty easily," Stevens insisted. "That's amazing because we've been outspent. … Clearly what the Obama campaign wanted to do hasn't worked."

As Romney prepared to land in Tampa before his wife, Ann Romney, gives her speech before the RNC Tuesday night, Stevens told reporters the presumptive GOP nominee is finished with his own speech.

The remarks, which will run about 40 minutes, will focus on what a Romney presidency will look like—echoing a theme Romney has touched on in other major speeches during his second candidacy for the White House.

"It'll be a clear vision of a Romney presidency and very much from his heart about America and why he wants to be president and what a presidency would be like," Stevens said. "It'll be a continuation of the argument, themes that he laid out when he first announced that he was running for president. You'll see a direct correlation between the speech he gave in New Hampshire in that field over a year ago to this speech."

Stevens, who has written many of Romney's major speeches, downplayed his own role in drafting the speech—even though other aides have said Stevens is the sole author.

"This is Mitt Romney's speech," he told reporters.