Mitt Romney’s top political strategist on Thursday said the campaign's failure to reach out to women and Hispanic voters was their biggest mistake.
In an interview on CBS’s “This Morning,” Romney adviser Stuart Stevens was asked to pinpoint the campaign’s “big mistake” or key factor that could have changed the outcome by host Charlie Rose.
“I think we should have done a better job reaching out to women voters. The governor has a great record on women’s issues. We should have done a better job articulating that record, we should have done a better job reaching out to Hispanic voters. We should have done it earlier and in a more effective way,” said Stevens.
“Looking forward those are questions for the party, I think we have a good message there, we just have to do a better job there.”
Stevens comments came on the heels of an op-ed he penned Wednesday in The Washington Post defending Romney from post-election attacks from GOP figures. Stevens said the candidate was “never a favorite of D.C.’s Green Room crowd” and defended Romney’s efforts to raise money and promote the party’s positions.
On Thursday, Stevens said that Romney’s “ideas carried the day” and provided the campaign’s strong suit. “The success that we had, and it obviously wasn’t enough to carry the race, was candidate Romney and on his ideas,” he said.
Stevens said President Obama’s campaign had targeted its message to voters in key states, running less of a national campaign than Romney.
“They ran very state specific issues, less of a national campaign. That was not why Gov. Romney was running, he wanted to talk about big national issues, debt entitlements, the future of the country. He wanted to put big issues before the country and he did that. And I think that a comparison of those two was striking in the debates.”
Stevens said he was “baffled” at the praise given to Obama’s ground-game operation, and said it was the campaign’s messaging in swing states that carried the day for the rival team.
“I’m a bit baffled at why people look at the Obama campaign and say they won because of their ground game on face value when they turned out more voters four years ago than they did this time. I would give them more credit for their message in those states.”
Stevens also defended Romney’s remark that the president had won because he gave “gifts” to key demographic groups ahead of the election, and dismissed the idea that Romney saw the election as a fight between haves and have-nots.
“I think what he was saying was there was an effort that the incumbent used as may other incumbents have used to reach out to constituents. It’s something we’ve seen in politics going back for a long time. They did it effectively and they had certain groups they wanted to do well with and they did well with,” said Stevens. “We had certain groups we wanted to do well with and would have wanted to have done better with them.”
Romney’s remark received sharp criticism, with many of his surrogates, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, denouncing the comment.
Stevens praised the Obama team’s work in the hard-fought campaign, and said the race could have gone either way. “They ran a great campaign, it was a campaign they could have lost and they won, and that’s the definition of a great campaign in my book.”
“The Obama campaign did a very good job speaking to voters who felt his presidency had been a success,” he added.
The White House announced this week that Romney and Obama would meet for a private lunch Thursday at the White House.