In a new report looking at the inside of the Romney campaign, aides reveal that the Romney campaign scrapped a much-belabored acceptance speech from a longtime Republican speechwriter just eight days before the Republican National Convention began.
Top campaign strategist Stuart Stevens brought Peter Wehner, a veteran of three previous Republican administrations, to write the speech, according to Politico. But Stevens reversed course just before the convention was set to kick off in Tampa, bringing in George W. Bush-era veterans John McConnell and Matthew Scully to finish the job. The final speech was mostly compiled by Stevens and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney himself.
“Like all campaigns, we have good days and bad days. I’m happy to take responsibility for the bad days,” he told Politico on Sunday. “This is a tremendously talented team.”
Wehner, who is reportedly still with the campaign as an adviser and blogger, said he was pleased with the speech he wrote, which contained the line, “The incumbent president is trying to lower the expectations of our nation to the sorry level of his own achievement. He only wins if you settle.”
The speech Wehner wrote also reportedly included a reference to Afghanistan, for which Romney has repeatedly drawn criticism for not including during his acceptance speech.
When Fox News asked Romney earlier this month if he regretted not including Afghanistan in the speech, he replied, “I’m going to regret you repeating it day in and day out.” He paused to laugh. “No. When you–- when you give a speech, you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things you think are important.”
The last-minute scramble over the speech also included a late-in-the-game decision to add Clint Eastwood as a prime-time speaker before Romney’s acceptance speech, Politico reported. “Eastwood, unlike every other speaker at the tightly controlled convention, had free rein to say or do whatever he wanted without the campaign’s approval,” Politico‘s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei reported.
The result, a rambling speech that included an empty chair intended to symbolize Barack Obama, was widely mocked, most notably by the Obama campaign, which tweeted a photo of the back of Barack Obama as he sat in the Oval Office chair with the caption, “This seat’s taken.”