The Romney campaign’s political director, Rich Beeson, joined me on the show today to discuss the nuts-and-bolts of the accelerating race for the GOP nomination. The transcript will be here later. The email I referred to in the interview, from the Colorado college student looking for Romney volunteers via Facebook links to this page.
HH: Most campaigns have a face other than the candidate. And then there’s a buy in the back room, the political director, who is making sure that everything gets done. For Team Romney, that political director is Rich Beeson. Welcome to the program, Rich, it’s good to have you on.
RB: Thank you, Hugh. I appreciate you having me on today.
HH: I want to start by asking you about the so-called Trump debate. It really ought to be called the Newsmax debate. I hate this idea. I think it trivializes and demeans, not because Trump…I mean, Trump’s a fascinating character, but this is the commaner-in-chief job, Rich. What’s Team Romney thinking about this?
RB: Well, I have to be honest with you, Hugh, I don’t know. I’ve kind of had my head down, focused on the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary, and I have not heard the discussions on the debates moving forward. So I’m probably not the right person to ask about that. [# More #]
HH: All right, since you brought up Iowa, then, I will ask you. I was just talking with Robert Costa, and I said what would you ask Beeson, and he wants to know what’s your play in Iowa? Are you planning to win there? Or are you going to go pull up stakes and throw everything at New Hampshire?
RB: Well, I think you’ve seen Governor Romney is actually right now on a tele-town hall with the good people of Iowa. He’s traveling, so he’s reaching out to them today via tele-town hall. He was just there last week. He’ll be there for the debate later this week, be there again next week for another debate. The campaign’s running television commercials. We’re doing work on the ground, so I would say we are in Iowa.
HH: There is a theory, it’s most commonly held among people who are backing Newt, that organization doesn’t matter in Iowa anymore in the way that it used to. What’s your reaction to that, Rich Beeson?
RB: I would say people who say organization doesn’t matter are people who don’t have an organization. So the people of Iowa want to hear from the candidates, they want to hear from the campaigns, and it’s still, Iowa and New Hampshire, the unique thing about them is they still expect to be, you know, people to knock on their door, and people to call them and talk through things. And I think Iowa and New Hampshire are very similar in those regards.
HH: Before I take the scope out a little bit, one more Iowa question. Rick Perry is hitting Newt Gingrich today on global warming, quoting extensively from a 2007, I believe it’s a PBS interview. That’s going negative. Is Team Romney going to go negative on Newt, given his leadership pole position in the Des Moines Register poll?
RB: Well again, Hugh, you ask great questions. All I do is I stay focused on making sure that we have the precinct captains and the people that we need, the ground operation to turn out the votes on Caucus night and primary night. So you’ll have to ask somebody smarter than I am on things like that.
HH: All right, then talk to me about delegates other than in Iowa. This Washington Post story from the weekend was fascinating, talking about you carry a card around in your pocket, a matrix charting the states which award delegates proportionately, and the winner take all. What’s that matrix? Does it have a circle around any state in particular that is a driver of your strategery?
RB: No, they’re all very important. But it is, it starts off with Iowa, and it goes all the way to the end, through the end of June, and it has every state listed, and when the date of their primary or their caucus is, and whether the delegates are proportional or winner take all. And it’s just something we stay very focused on. Again, Governor Romney, when he put this campaign together, he wanted to make sure it was a 50 state campaign, and it’s one that we’ve gone out and whether it’s ballot access, or whether it’s a communications strategy, or a political strategy, we have an organization or folks who support the governor in all 50 states. We did a national call day earlier this year, had volunteers from all 50 states calling into the early primary states. So again, we have volunteers, we have an organization in every state that we can call on.
HH: Would you walk people through the calendar after Florida, because I think people are pretty much, they understand January. But what goes on in February, and then the first couple of weeks of March, Rich Beeson?
RB: Sure, Nevada is February 4th. It’s the caucus that was in January. It moved back to allow South Carolina and New Hampshire to have their day. So February 4th is Nevada. February 7th is Colorado and Minnesota and Missouri. February 11th is Maine. February 28th is Arizona and Michigan. March 3rd is Washington State. March the 6th is what’s commonly called Super Tuesday. There is Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming all on March the 6th.
HH: And by that point, do you expect this thing to be over? Or are you planning on a replay of ’76 against someone whose name may not yet be obvious to us?
RB: We’re, again, Hugh, I’ve got to sort of keep my head down and focused on, you know, our job is to get enough delegates to get Governor Romney the nomination at the Republican National Convention. And that number is somewhere between 1,140 and 1,200, depending on what states are going to get penalized by the RNC, but we’re focused on those delegates. And how long it’s going to take to get them, we’re not sure. But we just have to take care of business in these states, and go win the states we can, and pick up as many delegates as we can as quickly as we can.
HH: Rich Beeson, in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, the three that are going on February the 7th, has Newt Gingrich, to your knowledge, missed any key dates for those three campaigns?
RB: Each one of those are caucuses, so Missouri, there was a filing fee. My understanding is that he did not make the filing fee in Missouri. But Colorado and Minnesota being caucuses, I’m not aware of a particular filing date in those states that he would need to file by.
HH: Is there any state out there that he is up against right now that the political insiders are looking to see if he can drum up and materialize a campaign force?
RB: I’m not sure right now. There’s just a ton of states out there that have, obviously, every state has their own ballot access measurements. And some, you just pay a fee, and some, you have to go out and get delegates, you’ve got to find delegates, then you’ve got to get them, get signatures to get them on the ballot. And you’ve got to get statewide signatures. In some cases, you’ve got to get them by Congressional district. Some cases, you have to be a registered Republican, and some cases, you don’t. So each one is different. So where the Gingrich campaign is at in any of those, I have no idea. But again, it’s something that we are staying very focused on here at the Romney campaign as far as understanding what each state’s deadline is, and what the requirements are to get on the ballot.
HH: Well, if I can keep you through the break, I will, but if I can’t, last quick question. I know Vice President Quayle is going to be endorsing Mitt Romney tomorrow. Are there any other endorsements, to your knowledge, coming up this week, Rich Beeson?
RB: Not to my knowledge. We’re very excited to have Vice President Quayle on board. It’s very exciting.
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HH: I got an email, Rich Beeson, from a college kid in Colorado who says hey, give us a shout out. www.facebook.com/pages/Colorado-for-Romney/169545656458205, saying we need volunteers, we want to do this caucus thing. And I thought to myself, I wonder how many of these sorts of self-organizing, or related groups are out there? And do you have any idea how many people are working on behalf of Mitt Romney, Rich Beeson, across the country?
RB: Well, it’s sort of, I use the same analogy for a different example, but it’s a lot like an iceberg. I mean, we’re aware of a lot of people and groups out there who want to be helpful. But there’s a huge number of people that just go out on their own and make phone calls to their neighbors, or talk to their friends at church or at school or the grocery store, and tell people why they’re supporting Governor Romney in this election. And so we just have this, there’s just an army of people out there who are being supportive of him. We do the best we can to keep track of them, and give them the resources and scripts and phone numbers that they need, but we know in a lot of these states, that there are folks just out there doing things on their own.
HH: Has it fundamentally changed what you do from four years and eight years ago?
RB: Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, it’s…and every cycle, I was a regional political director for the Republican National Committee in the 2000 and 2004 campaigns, and then the political director of the Republican National Committee in 2008. And each one of those cycles, it changes dramatically, and this cycle is no different. I mean, you see the ability for us to contact and connect with voters is different, our ability to reach people, our ability to communicate to them in a way that they wanted to be communicated to, whether it’s through Twitter or Facebook, or the old fashioned ways that we’re all used to of phones and mail. But you always have to adapt to the changing technology and the changing way that people want to be communicated to, and the venue they want to be communicated through.
HH: Last question, Rich Beeson. I’m spending all day, I’m limiting my callers to soccer moms, the proverbial soccer mom from 2000 who drove everything – women under 40 with small children. I haven’t seen much about that. How’s your campaign’s connection to that particular demographic? And in terms of relative importance to 2000, what is it in 2012?
RB: In 2012, Hugh, everything is about jobs and the economy. So that demographic, they’re worried about, this is the first time we’ve seen people are genuinely worried about their next paycheck, about the next month, about the next year. They want to know that they’re going to be able to send their kids to college, that they’re going to have the quality of life that they’ve enjoyed over the last five or ten years. And people are genuinely scared, and they want to see a leader who can come in and take the helm of the country, and knows about jobs and the economy, and get us back on track.
HH: Rich Beeson, thanks for spending time with us. I look forward to conversations down the road. From the Romney campaign, the political director, Rich Beeson, thanks.
End of interview.