Jet Blue, Not IBM: Inside Mitt Romney’s Pre-Campaign Campaign

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As Adam notes below, the next newsstand issue of TIME, which can be delivered to your house at minimal cost, has a piece I did on Mitt Romney’s preparations for another campaign. Romney sees his next campaign, as one aide puts it, as smaller, more efficient and reactive. “Last time, Mitt’s campaign was like IBM. This time, if he runs, he wants to be like JetBlue,” the aide says. Another taste:

As the crowd gathered in Stratham, N.H., Romney awaited his introduction by Frank Guinta, the mayor of nearby Manchester and now a newly elected Congressman, part of the incoming Republican wave. “We’re pleased and honored to have him back in New Hampshire,” Guinta said. “Although we have been seeing a lot of him lately.” Folks started laughing, and Guinta quickly realized his mistake. “No, no,” he stammered, “because he lives in Wolfeboro. There may be another reason. I don’t know.”

Why won’t Romney just come out and say he wants to be President? He knows well the hazard of entering the process too early and becoming a target. So he has feigned confusion at what all the fuss is about. He has become practiced at this sort of false modesty, often telling the story of a phone call he placed to a corporate executive’s secretary, who had asked for the name of Romney’s company. “Well, I’m currently unemployed,” he deadpans. Romney has decided he needs to show voters he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

But on this day in Stratham, he knew that a national political reporter was lurking in the room, and while Romney would not grant an interview, an aide said the governor didn’t mind previewing his take on President Obama. So he cut right into it, with the muscular language of a man who can get the conservative juices flowing.

“There will be an abject and utter repudiation of Obamaism,” he said. (Read about Mitt Romney’s new book.)

Then came a blizzard of one-liners, all delivered to the room smoothly, without notes, describing the President as an ideologue who exploited economic crises for his own job-stifling agenda. In a few short minutes, Romney mentioned cap and trade, card check, the U.S. Constitution, the Founding Fathers, the spirit of free enterprise, the stimulus “that grew government,” Obama’s international “apologizing for America” and the President’s leisurely penchant for golf, which, Romney made clear, he does not share. “This President and his fellow travelers in Washington fundamentally don’t understand America,” Romney said. “They don’t understand what it is that makes this nation so successful, so powerful, so good.”

Read the whole story here.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons.