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Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney answers a question as U.S. President Barack Obama listens during the first presidential debate in Denver October 3, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS USA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION)
They'll always have this moment. And only this moment.
Mitt Romney's top strategist, Stu Stevens, has penned a retrospective on his campaign so nuts, it partly explains his candidate's loss (something Republicans themselves were saying back in September).
Over the years, one of the more troubling characteristics of the Democratic Party and the left in general has been a shortage of loyalty and an abundance of self-loathing. It would be a shame if we Republicans took a narrow presidential loss as a signal that those are traits we should emulate.
Narrow presidential loss? President Barack Obama won 332-206, and has a 3.5-point lead in the popular vote, or 4.5 million raw votes. George W. Bush declared a big "mandate" in 2004 after winning the popular vote by just three million.

What's more, add up the states in which Obama won by more than five points, and he still wins with 272 electoral votes. In other words, Romney didn't come anywhere near a victory. Not even close.

Meet me below the fold as I continue.

I appreciate that Mitt Romney was never a favorite of D.C.’s Green Room crowd or, frankly, of many politicians. That’s why, a year ago, so few of those people thought he would win the nomination.
No one ever doubted Romney would win the nomination. Well, except me, perhaps. I really thought one of the wingnuts could pull through. But the safe bet was always Romney.
But that was indicative not of any failing of Mitt Romney’s but of how out of touch so many were in Washington and in the professional politician class. Nobody liked Romney except voters.
Romney was the least liked Republican presidential candidate since ... ever.
What began in a small field in New Hampshire grew into a national movement.
Not it didn't. Romney may have gotten more votes than John McCain, barely, but he won't get as many as George W. Bush did in 2004, eight years ago.
It wasn’t our campaign, it was Mitt Romney. He bested the competition in debates, and though he was behind almost every candidate in the primary at one time or the other, he won the nomination and came very close to winning the presidency.
That's what tens of millions in negative Super PAC attack dollars can do in a primary field—the systematic destruction of every single one of your primary challengers. I mean, he lost South Carolina to Newt Gingrich!
In doing so, he raised more money for the Republican Party than the Republican Party did.
Um, the leader of the Republican Party is part of the Republican Party.
He trounced Barack Obama in debate.
Singular. Because yeah, Romney got trounced in the other two.
He defended the free-enterprise system and, more than any figure in recent history, drew attention to the moral case for free enterprise and conservative economics.
Yup, he did! And lost big, thus proving that this is a center left country. Thanks!
When much of what passes for a political intelligentsia these days predicted that the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan meant certain death on the third rail of Medicare and Social Security, Mitt Romney brought the fight to the Democrats and made the rational, persuasive case for entitlement reform that conservatives have so desperately needed.
New rule: If you lose, your case wasn't so persuasive. Actually, that's an old rule.
The nation listened, thought about it — and on Election Day, Mitt Romney carried seniors by a wide margin.
White seniors. They weren't voting on Medicare—an issue Obama won 52-44.
On Nov. 6, Mitt Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters.
And lost.
While John McCain lost white voters under 30 by 10 points, Romney won those voters by seven points, a 17-point shift.
And lost. Meanwhile, while whites under the age of 30 were 31 percent of the electorate in 2008, they were just 29 percent this year. Meanwhile, Latinos under 30 went from six percent in 2008 to seven percent this year. That's a net shift of 3.9 million votes. And that trend is only accelerating.
Obama received 4 1/2 million fewer voters in 2012 than 2008, and Romney got more votes than McCain.
And less votes than George W. Bush eight years ago. And the fact that Obama got fewer votes is irrelevant if Romney couldn't get more.
[...] In the debates and in sweeping rallies across the country, Mitt Romney captured the imagination of millions of Americans
Ha ha ha ha! No he didn't!
He spoke for those who felt disconnected from the Obama vision of America. He handled the unequaled pressures of a campaign with a natural grace and good humor that contrasted sharply with the angry bitterness of his critics.
Oh yeah, he was hilarious! Remember the joke about his dad laying off people in Ohio? That one was funny. Or the one about spending big bucks on their ponchos? How about saying the cute lady's cookies looked like they came from 7-Eleven? That one cracked me up. Then there was the joke about being unemployed, which was hilarious, or the one about how he worried about getting a pink slip.

He should do standup.

There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and a media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?
Damn black people have all the advantages! Meanwhile, the Obama campaign and its allies spent $947.7 million. The Romney campaign and its allies spent $1.054 BILLION—more than $100 million more than Democrats. So per Stu's logic, Republicans can compete if they run against a white guy they can outspend by even greater margins?

Good luck with that one!

Yes, the Republican Party has problems, but as we go forward, let’s remember that any party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right. When Mitt Romney stood on stage with Barack Obama, it wasn’t about television ads or whiz- bang turnout technologies, it was about fundamental Republican ideas versus fundamental Democratic ideas. It was about lower taxes or higher taxes, less government or more government, more freedom or less freedom. And Republican ideals — Mitt Romney — carried the day.
Ha ha, that first debate is really all they have!
On Nov. 6, that wasn’t enough to win. But it was enough to make us proud and to build on for the future.
No one doubts that Republicans will win the national white vote for the foreseeable future, particularly with southern whites giving the GOP 80-90 percent of their vote. But the country is changing, and changing quickly. They can brag about winning 30-year-old white guys, but this country will have fewer and fewer of those. And if this was the best Romney could do despite dramatic economic upheaval, the GOP is in worse shape than it will ever publicly admit.

Originally posted to kos on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 10:39 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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