The Secrets of the 2012 Campaign
You’ve probably moved on from the 2012 presidential election. It’s clear that the Republican Party is trying to. Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio both gave high-profile speeches Tuesday in which they showed they had learned the lessons of Mitt Romney’s loss. “Both parties tend to divide Americans into ‘our voters’ and ‘their voters,’ ” said Ryan, sounding a little bit like Barack Obama circa 2008 and nothing like Mitt Romney, who was secretly recorded telling donors that 47 percent of the country wouldn’t vote for him because they considered themselves victims. “Republicans must steer far clear of that trap.” Sen. Rubio spoke at the same dinner as Ryan. Rubio mentioned the middle class 34 times in his half-hour speech, which may qualify him for a special badge of some sort.*
Before you move on to 2016, though, there is one important trove of information about the last presidential race that was just made available. Harvard’s Institute of Politics has released the audio of last week’s Campaign Decision Makers Conference. This is the powwow of the vanquished and victorious that has taken place every four years at Harvard since 1972. The top strategists from both sides sit across vast stretches of white tablecloth and discuss the battle they just waged.
Everyone was showered, shaven, and showed the benefits of sleep they had missed for the last 18 months. Most were on the cusp of long vacations in pricey locales. As a result, mostly everyone was polite (damn it!). Still, it was informative.
Why revisit Thanksgiving when we’ve already hung half the Christmas lights? Because the shape for the final script of 2012 will determine how the participants in the 2016 conference run their races. Those of us who participated in the gathering were asked to keep our notebooks closed until Harvard posted the material. Now that it’s available to all, here are the most illuminating disclosures: