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Mitt Romney, Up Close and Personal

An exclusive interview with Romney's former campaign manager Ben Coes.

by
Elise Cooper

Bio

October 20, 2011 - 12:00 am

Political thriller author Ben Coes, whose latest book is Coup d’Etat, was Mitt Romney’s campaign manager during his successful run for governor of Massachusetts. PJ Media interviewed Coes about Mitt Romney’s influence on his life.

Romney, in the audio version of Coes’ book Power Down, discusses his enjoyment of thrillers, and some of the former governor’s views come out loud and clear. Mitt Romney obviously shows his loyalty to Coes when he notes in the interview, “For those that don’t know, you helped me with my successful campaign for governor which is something I will not forget.”

Romney likes thrillers for their entertainment but also for the underlying message. Coup d’Etat has a scary and realistic scenario and it carries a message as well. A radical Islamist is elected Pakistan’s president. After Pakistan drops a nuclear bomb on India, America deals with the complexities and dangers that unfold by sending commandos to overthrow the extremist regime. Coes says: “Romney has always espoused an America that we are proud of: strong, not afraid to stand by its allies, and without apologies.” A reader of Coes would think he wrote these words uttered by Romney on October 3, 2011:

You (Pakistan) can’t play both sides of this game. You’ve got to decide if you’re with us or with them. … If you’re with them, that will have a very significant consequence. If you’re with us, that’s a very good thing.

Coes said he is not surprised by that quote, since he describes Romney as

…tough and someone who can take criticism as well as dish it out.  He has a great sense of humor, which many people don’t see. He is one of the funniest guys I have hung out with and does not take himself too seriously. He is a wonderful person. A story that has never been told which exemplifies the type of person he is: The Christmas before he ran for governor a woman from some place in Massachusetts found out his phone number and called him on Christmas Day to tell him how cold she was and that she was without any heat. Mitt and his five sons filled a truck up with wood, drove for two hours, and made the woman a fire, stacking up the leftover wood for her. This shows his heart.

Coes feels Romney would make a good president because he displays  ”a take-charge attitude that will enable him to turn around the economy.” He sees Romney as someone who could create jobs through his understanding of the private sector — mainly, that it is not government that creates jobs, but having government get out of the way to allow the private sector to create the jobs.  For him, “Mitt can get rid of those layers of cement that have been stuck on top of the economy.”

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.

The author is a freelance writer focusing on national security issues.
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