Mitt Romney's inner circle
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has never really stopped running for president since that February day in 2008 when he ended his challenge to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).
While Romney took an extended hiatus to write his book -- "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness" -- he never really left the political game, staying in close touch with a small group of political advisers who have kept the presidential flame lit over the past two plus years.
That loyal group has helped Romney emerge as the frontrunner in the Invisible Primary -- the behind-the-scenes battle before the battle for the nomination, a contest defined by fundraising, endorsements and general political sway. (The Romney team's performance was near perfect until a background quote disparaging former Alaska Sen. Sarah Palin caused a bit of stir nationally.)
What better way to kick off our 2012 inner circle lists -- the men and women closest to the various Republicans (and Democrat) running for president -- than with Romney. Look for future inner circles for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and, yes, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in this space in the coming weeks.
The Romney Inner Circle
*Matt Rhoades: Rhoades served as communications director for Romney's 2008 bid and earned a reputation as a savvy strategist in and out of the press world. Rhoades was named director of Romney's Free and Strong America PAC earlier this year -- a move that won the governor praise among insiders -- and is widely expected to be the campaign manager for the 2012 race.
* Beth Myers: Myers served as chief of staff during Romney's time as governor and managed the 2008 race. Myers is regarded as the staffer with the closest personal relationship with Romney -- a not-insignificant thing in a presidential campaign where scads of advisers seek to win the candidate's ear.
* Eric Fehrnstrom: While Fehnstrom has dabbled in outside consulting -- he helped guide Sen. Scott Brown (R) to victory in Massachusetts earlier this year -- he is still focused heavily on forwarding Romney's political interests. Fehnrstrom's relationship with Romney cemented during the '08 campaign when he served as traveling press secretary but the two also have history; Fehnstrom served as Romney's deputy campaign manager in the 2002 governor's race.
* Stuart Stevens/Russ Schriefer: Romney had many -- too many, according to some -- media consultants on board during the 2008 presidential campaign. (Check out our 2008 Romney inner circle post for a look at all of them.). Stevens and Schriefer, whose firm helped elect Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) in 2009, are the only image men left standing and are a near-lock to produce Romney's ads in the race to come.
* Spencer Zwick: Commonly referred to as the sixth Romney son (Romney has five boys), Zwick is tasked with raising the money for the PAC -- and, by any measure, has done a bang-up job. Romney has collected nearly $6 million for Free and Strong America since the start of 2009 and had doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates across the country as well. In both money raised and donations made, Romney stands alone among 2012 candidates -- thanks to Zwick.
* Peter Flaherty: Flaherty is Romney's go-to guy in outreach to conservatives, the same critical role he played for the governor in the 2008 presidential race. Flaherty, like Myers and Fehnrstrom, goes way back with Romney; he served as Romney's deputy chief of staff in the governor's office.
* Bob White: White is a longtime Romney confidante -- they worked together at Bain Capital -- and remains a trusted voice for the governor.
* Kevin Madden: Madden, the telegenic spokesman for Romney in 2008, has moved on to the world of political consulting -- he is partners with former Republican National Committee strategist Jim Dyke -- but keeps a hand in Romney world. Madden is also a regular presence on cable television, a role he's likely to reprise if/when he signs up for a second bid.
* Ben Ginsberg: Ginsberg (and his law firm Patton Boggs) remains on Romney's PAC payroll -- a sign that the governor values the advice of one of the top election lawyers in Washington (or anywhere.)
* Ron Kaufman: Kaufman, a principal at the Dutko Group, is the insider's insider and serves as a behind-the-scenes advocate for Romney within the professional political class in Washington.
* Jim Talent/Mike Leavitt: Talent, the former Missouri Senator, and Leavitt, the former Utah governor, know the life of an elected official and can relate to Romney in a way that few others in the inner circle can as a result.
July 20, 2010; 3:39 PM ET
Categories: Inner Circle
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