Skip to comments.What Was Romney Planning? (His transition team was planning an impressive ship-of-state had he won)
Posted on 01/21/2013 5:50:25 AM PST by SeekAndFind
President Obama is beginning his second term today, and while Democrats are celebrating, there are some Republicans and conservatives who are viewing the festivities with more than the usual regret. Until just after the November election, they were among the 300 Washington-based members of Mitt Romneys transition team, known internally as the Readiness Project.
No, hiring such a large staff to prepare plans for a Romney presidency didnt represent an egotistical measuring of the drapes by the candidate. It was mandated by a new federal law, the Presidential Transition Act, which a Democratic Congress passed in 2010 to ensure that any newly elected president would be able to use the 77 days between election and inauguration to ensure hed hit the ground running and have a smooth transition of power.
Michael Leavitt, the former Utah governor and Health and Human Services secretary, headed the Romney transition team. Shortly after the election, he told Time magazine, Doing things on Day One takes activity on Day minus-90. He was wistful about the Romney administration that might have been: We built a great ship, but it just didnt sail. In part because the teams bills were picked up by the federal government (to the final tune of $8.9 million), we can learn a fair bit about what the Romney people were up to, despite the confidentiality agreements all team members had to sign.
The ship was indeed impressive. The General Services Administration lent the Romney team three floors of a government office building at the corner of Third Street and C Street SW in Washington. The first staffers moved in at the beginning of September and were issued desks, government e-mails and phone numbers, security clearances, and access badges. Workers were assigned to one of more than 30 federal departments and agencies, each of which had its own office space.
It was impressively organized, and Ive worked in three administrations, one member of the transition team tells me. Each team, he says, had to identify the twelve most important people in a department or agency, prepare a list of candidates for the most important jobs, link Romneys campaign promises to specific actions to take early in the administration, and come up with five recommendations for quick action in each office.
Everyone was on a strict timetable, with red, yellow, and green deadlines for the delivery of policy papers and task-force reports. All were due in final form on Tuesday, November 7 Election Day. Everyone was ready for the next step, in the event Romney won. We had parachute teams selected that would have landed to debrief the bureaucrats everywhere right after the election, the transition staffer tells me.
As team leader, Leavitt enjoyed complete authority to design an administration in waiting. He met with Romney himself every Monday, wherever he was campaigning, to update him on the teams progress. Leavitt had a four-phase plan: The readiness phase lasted until the GOP convention in August; the planning phase went up to the election and frequently required transition-team staffers to coordinate with members of Congress on how to get things done. The two phases that were aborted for obvious reasons were the transition phase and the hand-off phase these would have culminated in a 200-day plan that encapsulated everything Romney wanted to accomplish early in his term.
By any measure, the transition team was organizationally impressive, but Republicans and conservatives have a deeper concern about what the transition staffers were up to: What kind of administration were they preparing?
The evidence on this is both mixed and murky. One transition-team member tells me he was thrilled by the recommendations for his agency that were given a green light. The people I worked with knew the importance of de-funding the Left. Sometimes when it looked like the Senate was going Republican, I felt we were going to get the third Reagan term we never got with Bush Senior at least in my area.
Another key transition-team member gave Politico a somewhat different impression. Romney wasnt planning an ideological crusade, he said. He wants to come across as a problem solver, primarily on the economic side. Everything that was planned appeared to revolve around pragmatic, rather than ideological, goals: bringing down barriers to economic growth and providing certainty to businesses.
As for personnel, again the picture was mixed. Defense hawks would have been cheered by the fact that Mike Chertoff, former Bush Department of Homeland Security secretary, was a key player in the transition team and a leading candidate to become attorney general. Ditto with former Missouri senator Jim Talent, currently a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who was one of three co-chairs of the Romney transition team for the Pentagon and a top candidate to become defense secretary. On the other hand, an overall coordinator of the national-security transition was former World Bank president Robert Zoellick, who has often drawn the ire of conservatives.
On the domestic side, conservatives would have been generally pleased with the two domestic-policy coordinators on the transition team: Glenn Hubbard, a former chairman of George W. Bushs Council of Economic Advisers, and Al Hubbard, director of Bushs National Economic Council. John Taylor, a Stanford University professor and a noted free-market scholar, was a top candidate to replace the interventionist Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve. But one transition-team member makes it clear that Romneys economic conservatism had clear limits: You wouldnt have seen wild-eyed supply-siders or privatization advocates being appointed. A Romney administration would have seen old hands and graybeards in charge.
We will never know exactly what course a Romney administration would have steered or exactly whom it would have placed in every staff and cabinet position. One thing is clear: The Romney transition team was much better run and more focused than the often chaotic Romney campaign, with its clash of consultant egos and its happy talk about internal polls that featured questionable turnout models, not to mention the epic failure of ORCA, the campaigns computer-driven Election Day get-out-the-vote effort.
Many people have already said this: Mitt Romney may be the presidential candidate who ran the least effective of campaigns but who would have made the best-organized chief executive in history. Different roles require starkly different skill sets.
The Romney transition team closed up shop just as quietly and professionally as it opened for business. Mike Leavitt, the transition-team leader, is proud that they cleared out of their offices within three days. We were efficient, he told Time. Indeed but, sadly, not winners.
John Fund is a national-affairs columnist for NRO.
Who gives a red rats patoot what Romney had planned?
He never planned to win anyway,He worked hard in the Primary’s and folded in the General. He hurt his Republican opponents folded and bowed to Obama.
Romney to me is just another name to despise, for his Massachusetts version of Obamacare and his run for President he gave up on in the final months.
“Strategies the Chiefs would employ against the 49ers in the Super Bowl.”
Those thoughts and 3 bucks will get you a cup of bitter tasting coffee. Does he know how much of your mind he continues to occupy?
Interesting read. Even with faults, it would have been light years better than what we are about to face.
It sounds to me like Romney and his team spent a lot of time and effort in putting the cart before the horse.
Sounds to me like just another expensive Wonk Factory operation. Only coming from the Right and not the Left.
He sure doesn’t and he probably doesn’t care.
No more than I care what he would have done as President.
Step 1: Ensure Romney loses the General to stick it to the GOPe Step 2: ? Step 3: Profits!
I disagree...well, somewhat. I am was an ‘anybody but Romney’, and he lost for the reasons we all feared/expected. I do believe Romney as a man performed as well as anything I expected from a candidate. As a candidate, he prepared and executed extremely well. I was pleasantly surprised. His speeches, his debates (the first two), etc were very good. I commended him at the time, and won’t second guess now.
What lost this was the strategy team and underlying beliefs and skills. Romney as a man deserves a big part of this because it ultimately is his belief set that drove how the team was built. This is the problem we all had with Romney as a candidate. He is a moderate who fell for the age old myths about moderate Republicans. Their team assumed Obama would remain unpopular, and all they had to do was present a viable alternative. Everything was done to make Romney look presidential. They needed to build an undeniable case why Obama had failed, and did not do that. In essence, they let him off the ropes. The political team Reagan built for 1980 and 1984 would have eviscerated Obama.
That’s where I agree. I am pissed that the idiot consultancy class sunk this ship. I was upset during the convention when I heard a high ranking official say ‘we aren’t going to hammer on Obama failures because people already know about them’. The campaign apparatus failed dramatically, but this article and Romney preparation show they did a number of things well, at the same time. This team was simply build with the wrong people, and was outmatched in organization.
Yeah, because what we have to face over the next 4 years is soooooo much better knowing this RINO didn’t get elected.
Yep. No federal funding unspent in the process, either.
Which ‘purists’ are you referring to? Name names.
Woulda, shoulda, coulda. Who cares is right.
Your sarcasm is misdirected, but that’s fine.
One thing I’ve learned is that there is nothing lower than a bottom feeding scumbag moderate who spews crap about “purists”. They spend so much time on their knees servicing their liberal friends that they think its mother’s milk.
I’ll consider myself a purist- I despise Romney as a Northeastern gun-grabbing leftwing fag-supporting RINO. I voted for him anyway, although I won’t do anything like that again, because his winning would have been pointless, and only emboldens the leftists in the GOP.
“I’m still waiting for the purists to tell us what to do.”
Ok. Take your left-wingers and ESAD. Get out of the Republican party, go join the democommies and quit trying to sell moderate socialism to conservatives.
He should have been planning how to keep Obama’s henchmen form hacking into voting machines and stealing the election. Until Republicans figure that out, they will never win again.
A wise solution would be to abolish all voting except voting in person on election day. Ideally, voters should be required to put their index finger into indelible ink, Iraqi-style. These simple fixes would keep felons, illegals, multiple voters, and the dead out of the count, so Democrats would never agree to it.
I believe their plan-after-winning reflects their plan-to-win. RINO losers. It really took some incompetence to lose to nobama and his commie friends.