The Boston Globe this weekend offered a fascinating analysis of why Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election. But for all the impact of ground games, turnout models and campaign strategies, Mitt Romney lost not because he failed to define himself to the American people, but because he succeeded. At the end of the day, he was inevitably "reduced to caricature, as a calculating man of astounding wealth, a man unable to relate to average folks" because that is who Mitt Romney is. Voters sized him up as a hyper-ambitious, amoral opportunist more than willing to mislead them on almost any topic. As his number one son Tagg revealed to the Globe, Mitt Romney was a liar to the end, still pretending he never wanted to President in the first place.
Tagg, who now provides his father office space at the Solamere Capital private equity firm his parents' $10 million investment and priceless connections helped create, performed one final campaign task for Mitt. How disappointed could his father really be, Tagg suggested, if he never wanted to be President anyway?
"He wanted to be president less than anyone I've met in my life. He had no desire to...run," said Tagg, who worked with his mother, Ann, to persuade his father to seek the presidency. "If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside. He is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them, but he has deep faith in God and he loves his country, but he doesn't love the attention."
Unfortunately, a mountain of documentation exists which confirms voters' suspicions that Mitt Romney was preparing to run for President of the United States even before he took the oath of office as Governor of Massachusetts 10 years ago. Contrary to the Romney clan's tall tale that it took the intervention of Tagg and Mitt's wife Ann to convince her husband to run again in 2012, Mitt Romney never stopped running even after his bruising GOP primary defeat in 2008: As the New York Times detailed in August:
Not long after Mitt Romney dropped out of the presidential race in early 2008, a titan of New York finance, Julian H. Robertson, flew to Utah to deliver an eye-popping offer.
He asked Mr. Romney to become chief executive of his hedge fund, Tiger Management, for an annual salary of about $30 million, plus investment profits, according to two people told of the discussions...
But Mr. Romney was uninterested. His mind -- and his heart -- were elsewhere, still trained in the raw days after his political defeat not on Wall Street but on the White House and an urgent quest: to be understood by an electorate that had eluded him.
Romney's quest for redemption was well underway by the time Barack Obama took the oath of office in January 2009:
Less than 90 days into the new presidency, Mr. Romney assailed Mr. Obama in an op-ed article, accusing him of "deepening and lengthening this recession" and warning that his policies risked "wiping out the middle class."
It was the start of a carefully planned period of partisan activity intended to build momentum for a second campaign and cement the perception of him as the Republican establishment's candidate.
Publicly, Mr. Romney was coy about his aspirations, telling those who asked that he would not make any decisions about a run until late 2010. Privately, he prepared for the race, one Iowa breakfast round table, Nevada barbecue and Virginia state party dinner at a time.
The Romney playbook remained unchanged from his days at Harvard, at Bain Capital, at the Olympic Games and the governor's office: He out-hustled those around him. In 2009 alone, he attended 53 events for Republican candidates and causes, made 44 television appearances, gave 11 newspaper interviews and held 8 news conferences, records show.
The Times' account notes that Romney got "last-minute jitters" in late 2010 at the prospect of a second White House bid. Supposedly a family conclave voted 10 to 2 against him running, with only Ann and Tagg in favor. But the story that "over the next few months, Mr. Romney told his family three times that he had decided against a race" and that it was "his wife who made the most compelling case for running" can't obscure the fact that he never stopped. As the Times explained Mitt's mindset after John McCain blew him out of the 2008 race in which he blew $45 million of his own money:
From the moment that Mr. Romney ended his first bid for the Republican nomination, he complained to friends, advisers and family that he had felt cheated out of a chance to explain himself to the country. He had emerged from his debut on the national political stage, he told them, as a caricature he did not recognize: emotionally uncaring, intellectually inauthentic, ideologically malleable.
Over the next three years, a little-examined period in his life, he sought to reclaim his public identity with the self-critical eye, marketing savvy and systematic rigor of the corporate consultant that he once was.
If that sounds familiar, it should. After all, the Boston Globe published virtually the same message on Saturday:
In the coming months, Romney, ever the data-driven analyst, plans to contemplate how his political life came to an end.
Here's data point Mitt Romney has the rest of his life to reflect on. As the Globe summed up the exit polls from Election Day 2012:
Obama beat Romney by an astonishing 81 to 18 percent margin on the question of which candidate "cares about people like me."
That his final vote tally settled in at 47 percent should help burn that message into the Romney ROM. That's the same figure he used to disparage half the electorate as self-described "victims" bought off by "free stuff" and "gifts" from President Obama.
At the end of the day, Mitt Romney didn't care about half the voters; certainly not enough to tell them the truth. Over a decade ago, his wife Ann did, revealing what drove her supposedly reticent husband:
"I truly want Mitt to fulfill his destiny, and for that to happen, he's got to do politics," Ann told the Los Angeles Times on the eve of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. In his book "Turnaround," Mitt says he initially resisted the offer to take over the games until Ann changed his mind. "There's no one else who can do it," he remembers her saying. Last year, when Mitt entered the presidential race, Ann told Parade, "I felt the country needed him ... This is now Mitt's time." In a March radio interview, Ann declared, "He's the only one who can save America."
Even if he denies he ever wanted to. As he told the Wall Street Journal a year ago, Mitt was content to hang out in his $12 million, soon-to-be doubled-in-size California beach side home:
The Republican presidential candidate says he never intended to run for office again after 2008--"I went back and bought a home which was far too expensive and grandiose for the purposes of another campaign," he jokes. He was drawn back into public life amid Mr. Obama's bid to "fundamentally transform" the country, to use the president's own words, into "an entitlement society," to use Mr. Romney's.
Of course, Tagg Romney's suggestion that his father Mitt "wanted to be president less than anyone I've met in my life" is the biggest joke of all.