Romney Cuts Loose The Guy Who Improved His Debate Performance
Has any politician ever won a big primary and stepped all over that victory in such short order as Mitt Romney has this week? After a decisive win in the Florida Primary on Tuesday that restored his status as the GOP front-runner, Romney has made the near disastrous comment regarding his lack of concern for the poor (on a side note, have you ever noticed that Romney pronounces the word poor as if it has a third ‘o?’ It’s as if he doesn’t know what the word means. Ahhh…right), then when given the chance to clean it up, made it worse by doubling down on the statement. Not only that, but as if to belabor the point, he accepts the endorsement of the most insensitive rich person on Earth in his fancy Vegas hotel. Could there have been a worse time for him to be seen with Donald Trump? I think not.
It’s hard to believe, that only three short days ago, Romney was back on top. His bounce back from his second place finish in South Carolina had been made complete in the sunshine state and an ultimate GOP presidential nomination appeared to be all but assured.
To a large degree, Romney’s success in Florida stemmed from his neutralizing of Gingrich in the two debates leading up to the Florida Primary. In the first debate, Romney had a solid performance against a largely listless Gingrich. Better yet, in the follow-up, it can be fairly argued that Romney cleaned Newton Leroy’s clock. Consistently deflecting Gingrich’s attacks and counter punching with verve, hell, a couple of times the robo-candidate seemed almost passionate.
Much of the credit for his performance uptick went to his new debate coach, Brett O’Donnell, and that appears to be the problem. Hired by the Romney campaign after his original boss, Michele Bachmann, suspended her campaign, O’Donnell had performed near miracles with the moon-eyed house rep from Minnesota. For the most part, Bachmann came off relatively credible in the republican debates and certainly better than anyone would have expected. No simple feat for certain. So you can see why the Romney team would want to bring him aboard. If the guy could make crazy seem less so, what could he do for a candidate whose worst issue was mere stiffness and being none too quick on his feet?
The improvement was almost immediate. However, today Politico is reporting that the Romney campaign is parting ways with O’Donnell because the credit he has received as a debate fixer is overshadowing the candidate. Which is really pretty laughable. How many people outside of party insiders and the most addicted of political junkies has ever even heard of the guy?
Unfortunately, for O’Donnell and Romney, the lack of complete anonymity of the new debate coach has resulted in his canning. According to Politico:
A GOP operative who won plaudits for bolstering Mitt Romney’s recent debate performances is not being retained by the frontrunner’s campaign, an apparent victim of internal tensions over staff receiving too much credit for the candidate’s comeback, POLITICO has learned.
Brett O’Donnell, a former top aide to Michele Bachmann, has been paid for his work assisting Romney in the crucial Florida debates but was not offered a formal role with the campaign as he expected, according to Republican sources familiar with the situation.
This quasi-termination begs the question, “Is the Romney Campaign so thin-skinned that they are willing to shanghai their own success?” Apparently so. But perhaps the larger question, is who’s running this show? Because if you look at what has happened since Romney had his big night last Tuesday, he has done nothing but prove that he needs someone to train his mind before he opens his mouth. Clearly, when this candidate is left to his own devices, he is an Obama campaign ad waiting to happen. In fact, I would argue that Romney would have better off had he gone into hiding on Wednesday.
Perhaps that is the answer for Romney. Maybe the campaign should adopt a “shut-in” strategy. Whatever the case, they sure as hell shouldn’t have cut loose the guy who for an all too brief moment, made Romney appear formidable, just because he got a little credit for doing so.