Mitchell Reports | September 17, 2012
>> clint eastwood 's memorable performance at the republican national convention , that was "snl," it was a result of a bigger problem within the romney campaign according to politico's reporting today. politico's jim vandehei joins me now. hey, jim. you have caused quite a storm in both campaigns with your reporting on what seems like sort of a post-election kind of inside story and we are 50 days away and they are neck and neck. what's going on in there?
>> yeah. i think you're picking up as well as we are, andrea, a lot of truss sfrags -- frustration inside and outside of the romney campaign to get any lead against barack obama but more importantly to come up with a coherent message on how life would be different under mitt romney than barack obama . a lot of criticism last week on the record from conservatives starting with the editorial pages of the " wall street journal " and weekly standard and spreading to elected officials saying come on, yes, people want to beat barack obama . they're ready to have a different president but you have to make an affirmative case for what that looks like. so there's a lot of finger-pointing at who is to blame for where the romney camp is at and for stuart stevens a lot of fingers being pointed at him, the top strategist for mitt romney , in charge of the ads herk's in charge of the strategy, he was largely in charge of the convention which now in retrospect a lot of republicans feel like was not a success.
>> from your reporting, is this fair? is this sort of the blame game where they're all pointing fingers at stewart stevens but everyone should take responsibility as well principally, the candidate himself? this is the candidate who is arguing that he can fix the problems of the economy because he's a turn around artist?
>> i'm a big believer that at the end of the day all these campaigns reflect the principal and in this case mitt romney . he serves as his own campaign manager . he has about seven different power centers inside his operation. he hired stuart stevens . he had looked around, talked to ken mehlman and other folks before settling on stuart stevens . at the end of the day he picked stevens , stuck with stevens . best i can still very much believes in stuart stevens . this is the mitt romney campaign and i think this cautious approach, this refusal to really engage in this war of ideas that paul ryan and i think the conservatives enam mored with paul ryan want, it reflects mitt romney as much as it would reflect stuart stevens . until they resolve that and the candidates decides i want a war of ideas, fight about the partial privatization of medicare, talk with specificity about what the tax code will look like a year from now under mitt romney , until he makes that decision, it doesn't matter what the aides want to do. it's his campaign. it would be his presidency.
>> and one of those top aides ed gillespie this morning seemed to be indicating there will be more speeches this week, more specificity on economic plans but not the big foreign policy critique that some republican conservatives have been calling for.
>> yeah. i would say there's bee signals in the l ast 12 hours. once our story posted last night around 8:00 it's clear the campaign wanted to get out this message they've decided to change strategies. it's not clear even reading our own stories from our report and reading some of the work on other sites it's not clear what that strategy looks like. are they different, delivered with more specificity. seems like they're talking about the same ideas maybe repackaged or packaged similarly to the way they were the last couple weeks. what i've heard today is, what does that mean? show us what it means. show us the five-point plan. show us something we didn't hear in the convention. i think that's what conservative conservatives are going to look for. at the end of the day mitt romney 's problem is not the media. he's running in a campaign against an incumbent president who for whatever reason has been able to defy the historical patterns of what happens when you run in a bad economy and other big problem is that conservatives never really loved him. so when there is turbulence in a campaign you see them quick triggered, to go on the record and criticize him. you don't see that on the democratic side and it makes stories of sort of this disunity or disorganization, much easier for the media to write when so many conservatives are saying it themselves on the record. clearly he has time. he has seven weeks to get things right. the debates will be the make or break point, either change the public's perception of him as a potential president or not at those debates. that's where the bulk of the energy is placed right now.
>> jim vandehei , thanks so much.