I finished The Real Romney, by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman. My latest reading covered Mitt Romney’s run for President in 2008, as Romney gets into an altercation with a reporter at Staples over lobbyists in his campaign, and John McCain accuses Romney of being a flip-flopper. After the heated campaign, Romney and McCain became friends. Although Romney was “disciplined” and “straitlaced” and “didn’t swear or drink,” and McCain was “fiery” and “tempestuous” and had “seen a bit more of life” as “a former navy man” (Kranish and Helman’s words on page 323), the two found commonalities, such as family connections to Arizona and a desire to escape the shadow of an important father (for Mitt, it was George, and for McCain, it was his admiral father). McCain did not pick Romney for his running mate, however, because McCain did not know Romney that well, plus McCain was looking for a game-changer, which he thought he had found when he selected Sarah Palin.
According to Kranish and Helman, Romney in 2012 ran his campaign a little differently from how he ran it in 2008. Romney had written a book (No Apology) where he set forth his positions, thereby providing him with a response when people said that they did not know what he believed or that he had not defined himself. Romney also did not talk as much about social issues but focused on the economy. Romney did not spend tons of money on the Iowa strawpoll in 2012, as he had in 2008. And Romney was becoming more comfortable reaching out to the voters, which was more of a challenge for him in previous campaigns.
I agree with Kranish and Helman that Romney’s 2012 campaign differs from his 2008 campaign. Romney’s Mormonism does not come up as much in the public discourse, perhaps because we already know that Romney is a Mormon, so why keep talking about it? And Romney is a little less of BS-er, as he was in 2008 at Staples, when he said lobbyists helped his campaign but did not run it, as if that made a difference. An exception would be how Romney is handling his record at Bain Capital. Kranish and Helman depict Romney as a shrewd and intelligent administrator, which makes his handling of his Bain Capital record rather puzzling. Bain Capital has come up before when Romney has run for public office (i.e., in his 1994 Senate race), so wouldn’t you expect him by now to know how to handle it better when an opponent brings it up?