This week we asked Mitt Romney 2012 campaign senior adviser Stuart Stevens to answer five questions about the recent presidential campaign, Twitter and what lies ahead for him.
1) Regarding this past presidential election, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote that you are “indifferent to the facts” and have “no sense of responsibility for a presidential campaign” that you “dominated.” He also criticized Mitt Romney’s endorsement of “self-deportation” as a way to deal with illegal immigrants in the United States.
What is your response to Gingrich and was it a mistake for Mitt Romney to embrace “self-deportation?”
Stuart Stevens: I have nothing but respect for Speaker Gingrich and his views on any subject.
As for taking responsibility, I have said repeatedly that I take full responsibility for any campaign mistakes or missteps.
The subject of immigration was debated in the primary and there is nothing to be gained revisiting these discussions. “Self-deportation” was a description of voluntary actions in contrast to forced federal deportation. I would leave it to those who are protesting the president’s escalation of federal deportations to decide if they are happy with the status quo of forced deportation and if they believe the president’s policies are working.
2) One of the toughest moments of the campaign for you must have been when Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comments were made public. How did you first find out and what was your physical reaction?
Stevens: Campaigns are about actions, not feelings. Our focus was on the Hispanic forum hosted by Univision, which was scheduled in 48 hours. It would be the first time the governor would have a venue in which the subject could be discussed. The governor was superb in that forum. You focus on the next steps in campaigns, not on what has happened.
3) It was noted in The New York Times Magazine that you were opposed to tweeting during the campaign. Can you explain why?
Stevens: This was a piece of reporting by my old pal Robert Draper in The New York Times Magazine that gave the wrong impression to some reader[s]. I joined Twitter shortly after the service was launched and follow tweets a bit obsessively, as the reporters covering the Romney campaign know all too well. I have never felt the need to tweet myself and, during the campaign, we had a very aggressive Twitter strategy which was handled by the communications shop.
4) As someone who has a lot of experience in the world of both politics and film, what TV show or movie would you say has most accurately depicted the way Washington works?
Stevens: Well, having worked closely on the HBO series “K Street,” I have to say it captured a realness of the campaign that was rare. I love “House of Cards,” as well. The British original is one of the great mini-series of all time. I also worked on “Commander in Chief” and feel it had its moments. And, of course, “West Wing” did a certain thing quite brilliantly. I also worked in a small way on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show, “Mr. Sterling,” with Josh Brolin as an appointed California senator, and think Lawrence did some great work on that show.
On the book front, I believe Ward Just’s novella, “The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert,” is the greatest piece of fiction about D.C. in memory. It is perfect.
5) What is ahead for you? Would you like to work on another presidential campaign? Who do you see as the frontrunners for 2016?
Stevens: I am quite bullish on the field of Republicans in 2016 and on Republican chances for recapturing the White House. I wouldn’t comment on any candidate as a favorite.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work on many governor and Senate races and that will be my immediate focus on the political front.
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