Open Thread: A Look Into Romney's Campaign Structure

While he may look like a stereotypical presidential candidate, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's campaign organization doesn't look the part at all, at least according to this Politico article which takes a look at how he's set up his staff structure.

According to the piece, Romney runs a more vertical-oriented structure which can streamline processes but might potentially make him too caught up in the details to run things effectively. On the other hand, he clearly is more than just a figurehead the way that Barack Obama was during his 2008 campaign:

Mitt Romney, well into his second, more successful presidential run, still has no Rove-like figure — an all-seeing adviser engineering the entire, increasingly sprawling, political apparatus. But aides and insiders say there is someone very much in charge — and that would be, for better or worse, Mitt Romney.

Romneyworld consists of a set of interlocking circles, created during his time in business and in government, tied together by a campaign manager with a clear mandate over the operation but with the candidate himself at the center. According to the basic presidential political playbook, that’s risky; staffers always say their boss is in charge but also always worry about a candidate who’s too immersed in the nitty-gritty details. Nomination narratives are full of cautionary tales about candidates who couldn’t see the proverbial strategic forest because they obsessed over every decision, creating a leadership vacuum.

But the CEO-structure of Romney’s campaign reflects a central belief set by campaign manager Matt Rhoades and adhered to by others that staff should not be the focus of attention — and it reflects the management style that has made Romney successful in the past.

“(Romney) likes a pretty horizontal organization where there’s a number of different inputs into him,” said former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent, a Romney ally and surrogate. “He fields information so quickly and he has such a strong frame of reference that he knows what questions he wants to ask.”
“You have a group of people there that are mature, collaborative, [there’s] very little personality conflict and turf-fighting and the like.” said former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has become a key Romney surrogate. He credited Romney, saying the way the campaign functions reflects the personal approach of the former Massachusetts governor.

“I think it’s remarkable because the campaign is really high-functioning, and part of the reason it’s so high-functioning is because Mitt has assembled a group of seasoned [operatives],” he added, saying they have experience “coming to a team conclusion and executing it as a team.”

Personally, I don't think the structure of a campaign dictates the success of one unless it's executed poorly. Still, the article is an interesting look into how Romney does things.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013