Mitt Romney, Up Close and Personal
An exclusive interview with Romney's former campaign manager Ben Coes.
October 20, 2011 - 12:00 am
Can Coes’ strategy, where he orchestrated a successful campaign that elected a Republican as governor of Massachusetts, a state that had only 13% registered Republicans in 2002, be applied to Romney’s presidential campaign? Campaign manager Coes decided to throw out the traditional playbook and approached the gubernatorial election as a marketing exercise. They went after voters such as the hunters and sportsmen who are pro-gun as well as those who support English-only in the public schools. This strategy, he believes, can be applied when Romney becomes the Republican candidate. He explains,
Typically the playbook during the primaries is to appeal to the more conservative side for the Republicans, and the more liberal side for the Democrats. During the general election you appeal to all party affiliations and bring people over with your stand on issues.
If Coes were Romney’s campaign manager today, would he advise him to do anything differently? He does not believe the campaign should change anything. Regarding health insurance, he believes that Romney will repeal ObamaCare on day one and points out that the former governor shows integrity by taking credit for what worked and taking the blame for what did not work while governor. If he were back in the saddle, he would advise Romney to constantly focus
…on the differences between Mitt and Obama’s background in the private sector, giving the advice “it’s the economy stupid.” In my opinion, the nomination is his to lose.
Since Coes is an author, private businessman, and was a campaign manager, which is the most challenging?
As a businessman and as a campaign manager, the results speak for themselves, the “proof is in the pudding.” A successful businessman earns a lot of money; a successful campaign manager wins elections. As an author, you begin with near complete freedom, freedom to say and create what you want. At the same time, this freedom is incredibly challenging. At least in my mind, being a successful author isn’t about how many books you sell, rather it’s about how well you do in creating that imaginary world, as judged by readers and their enthusiasm and reaction to your work.
Romney told Coes:
There is an authenticity to the perspectives you bring in your books. The messages you are sending are related to what you have done in your life, having worked for the Department of Energy, for a gubernatorial campaign, and for business.
It is also obvious that the theme of the books was influenced by Coes’ admiration and respect for Mitt Romney’s views of America.