From an ‘Iconic’ ‘Reagan’ to Trash: Romney Adviser Laments the Fall of Mitt

Former Romney campaign adviser Don Senor is still delusional about why they lost, but very bitter over the way Romney is being trashed.

Senor was on Morning Joe lamenting how Republicans were saying Romney was like Reagan, an icon, when they thought he was going to win and now they won’t stop trashing him. Senor said Republicans who are trashing Romney now were “talking about (Romney) like he’s Reagan. The debate performances, the best of any Republican nominee and presidential history. This guy is iconic. Talking about him because they believed he was going to win in four or five days. Some of them were already talking to our transition, to position themselves for a Romney cabinet….”

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Transcript from MSNBC with modifications for grammar:

Joe Scarborough: we have a lot to talk about. What happened?
Dan Senor: In the election?
Joe Scarborough: No. Why happened with the blue jays this past year? What happened in the election? What happened? Lot of republicans went into election night thinking they were going to win. We heard mitt Romney did and a Romney did.
Dan Senor: Paul Ryan.
Joe Scarborough: Paul Ryan did. Did you believe on Election Day you were going to win?
Dan Senor: I thought between the end of the debates, the debate season and the onset of the storm, we had tremendous momentum.
Joe Scarborough: Yeah.
Dan Senor: We saw it in our internal data, saw it in some of the external data, the public data and saw it on the ground. We would go to rallies, people standing in lines, thousand for hours.
Joe Scarborough: What happened? Why was your internal data so flawed? Why was it so wrong?
Dan Senor: I think a couple things. One, there is a — some kind of systemic crisis today in the world of polling, I think on the right of center polling. The modeling was way off. How pollsters on the Republican side– although not just the republican side. Gallup polling, Rasmussen made similar mistakes. The understanding, the electorate looked like was way off.
Joe Scarborough: First of all, you know Rasmussen is a Republican poll.
Dan Senor: Gallup? I’m not letting anyone off the hook. I’m saying there is — look the republican establishment needs to do an audit and figure out how our understanding of what the electorate looked like was way off. Truth is, not just this election. We faced similar dynamics in certain parts of the country in 2010.

(Gallup is also a right leaning poll.)

Joe Scarborough: We got pounded in 2008, 2012. Wasn’t as much of a shock as last time and this time. We talked about this during the campaign, do you think — as David Frum says accurately and I don’t agree with everything that David says — the conservative entertainment complex, these websites, talk radio shows, certain TV shows, that just tell their viewers day in and day out you’re going to win, you’re going to win, you’re going to win. Obama, he’s going to lose and may be impeached before he’s lost. You’re going to win; you’re going to win. Don’t you think that severely hurt the cause?

Dan Senor: I think it — I think it reinforced some of the worst overly optimistic instincts. I don’t think that’s why we lost. I think it was part of the problem. It was, you know, it created these unrealistic hopes and expectations. It’s not why we lost. Look, you could — people — reporters across the political spectrum, pundits across the political divide, believed this race was too close to call. I’m not defending the conservative entertainment complex, but I’m not saying they’re the only ones that believed Romney had a real shot at this. Anyone covering our events between the end of the debate season and onset of the storm believed that Romney had some momentum. We can debate the degree of momentum, the depth of the momentum, but there was a sense that Romney had begun to turn the race around.

Mika: I hear you on that. What do you think — and I think the conservative entertainment complex dynamic is a part of this — what do you think the bigger problem is?

Dan Senor: Look, first of all, I think there’s a tendency after these races to award the winning side with the label of being the smartest guys in the business and they were genius and the losing side, you know, the biggest door knock knobs and just screwed everything up. Watching some of these Republican officials now —

Mika: Right.

Dan Senor: — trashing mitt Romney. Everyone’s going out trashing Mitt Romney.

Mika: I agree with you on this.

Dan Senor: It is stunning. These are — I will tell you, I was just talking about this with Richard, the Friday night before the election we were in Cincinnati, tens of thousands of people, you could feel the energy, 100 top tier surrogates at the event, I’m back stage with some of them, won’t mention their names, talking about like he’s Reagan. The debate performances, the best of any Republican nominee and presidential history. This guy is iconic. Talking about him because they believed he was going to win in four or five days. Some of them were already talking to our transition, to position themselves for a Romney cabinet.

Mika: They’re the first to jump.

Dan Senor: I won’t say who they are, they were on television, the body was — it was unbelievable, five, six days lately, absolutely eviscerating him.

Mika: That’s the bigger problem. I want to go back to the first thing you said, there’s this temptation to think that the winning side is the smartest. I actually think no, Romney should have done better.

End transcript.

Dan Senor was obviously drinking the Romney Koolaid, since he bought into Romney as Reagan and believed they had momentum after the first debate. It was clear to us from the polling that this was not true. We pointed out at the time that the fundamentals had not shifted, and that within days of the first debate, the improving economic data put an end to the debate bump. It was Senor’s choice to pretend that Rasmussen and Gallup were not right-leaning polls, just as it was his choice to ignore Nate Silver and Princeton. Just as it was his choice to ignore the fundamentals within the polling data. Just as it was his choice to ignore the swing state polling, which was very different from the national polling and rather importantly so. It was also Senor’s choice to believe that a “winning” debate performance based on Romney fundamentally shifting his policy positions until he sounded like a Democrat was a positive for them; the backlash to that choice was inevitable.

From Reagan to trash, the Romney Koolaid continues. Romney was never Reagan, he never had the trust of the Republican base and Romney was also not trash. It is not Romney’s fault that he represented all that is wrong with Republican policies.

Pretending this is Romney’s fault is just another way for Republicans to avoid reality, but Senor pretending the Romney campaign doesn’t bear some responsibility is absurd. The Romney campaign was flawed from the get-go. They thought they could buy the election with negative ads, and placed little effort into their ground game. The candidate was flawed and exposed as hating half of America. They are, quite frankly, lucky they did as well as they did between their incompetence and Romney’s character issues.

None of the Romney campaign’s mistakes – and they are too numerous to detail – excuse the real problem, which is that Republicans have ridden the Southern Strategy to its inevitable conclusion. They can no longer count on the resentful white vote to avoid coming up with good reasons why people should support policies that benefit the wealthy and corporations. Social division and claims of divine righteousness are not going to get the job done either.

Anyone who believes that Mitt Romney was like Reagan is obviously not dealing with reality, but what can you expect from people whose performance is being ridiculed and blamed by the entire Republican Party in their haste to run away from the national Romney spanking.

Romney was ‘iconic’ in the sense that he stood for the elite plutocrats who have been raping the middle class for the last 40 years and feel entitled to do so. The fact that he got busted for this belief makes him no less iconic. Republicans once again flee the rejected representation of all they stand for, without dealing with the inherent problems. If they keep this up, it will be a long time until they win another national election, their continued efforts at voter suppression notwithstanding.

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