Dec 2, 2012 No Comments ›› Dinah Tellya
Excerpted from Buzzfeed: — Demoralized Republicans arrived in Boston Wednesday night for a rare moment in American politics: They came to learn from Democrats.
Barack Obama’s campaign schooled Mitt Romney’s in November, something of which the Republicans who gathered at the quadrennial, off-the-record Harvard Institute of Politics Campaign Managers Conference were intensely aware. And while the proceedings of the event are under embargo until the institute releases audio transcripts of the proceedings, some participants shared their reactions.
“We got our butts kicked, so I’m going to school,” said the manager of one 2012 Republican presidential campaign on his way into the sessions on Thursday morning, held in a cozy university conference space.
One Romney aide tried to convince Obama digital director Teddy Goff to join forces with Zac Moffatt, who ran Romney’s digital efforts.
The evening-and-a-day conference is the tenth in a 40-year tradition of analyzing winning and losing campaigns. It is, the Institute says, convened “in an effort to allow future candidates, managers, journalists and scholars to better understand the nature of modern presidential campaigns. This year, the line between students and teachers is clear. The Obama team spent much of the morning at the Charles Hotel, and skipped the session at which Romney aides and their Republican primary opponents discussed the bitter nominating process, trading strategies and regrets.
When it was the Obama team’s turn to discuss their strategy, the room was packed with Republicans.
Rarely has it been as obvious as it was in 2012 that one side has fallen badly behind on the technology and techniques of politics. From the basic communications tool of mass email to the vital new frontier of big political data, the Obama campaign’s strategy and tactics have drawn a level of excitement that is, among political professionals at least, notably greater than the excitement around the candidate’s message or his hard-won victory.
Romney’s entire team gathered for the early morning session at Harvard, even those who weren’t on the panel, in what appeared to be a deliberate effort to keep poisonous post-mortem finger-pointing to a minimum. Romney’s campaign chairman and frequent campaign trail sidekick Bob White, and Ron Kaufman, a senior adviser and the campaign’s mascot, sat opposite to the other Romney aides away from the tables arranged in a rectangle.
But the hot ticket at Harvard was the late-morning session in the same — now packed-to-the-brim — conference room, to hear seven top Obama aides to revisit their winning efforts.
The sages around the table: Top strategist David Axelrod, campaign manager Jim Messina, deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, Goff, field director Jeremy Bird, opinion research director David Simas, and ad man Jim Margolis. Every aspect of their effort has already been the subject of tens of thousands of words, and they have for weeks been fanning out across the country telling the story of their campaign’s success, but their rivals were still eager to learn.