Game Change: The Sequel

I noted earlier today that conservative political analyst Sean Trende, while balancing pros and cons about the Ryan Veep selection, suggested it created a new possibility: an Obama landslide. To be clear, he did not predict anything like that contingency, but simply stated the obvious: it was a high-risk choice consciously taken against safer alternatives.

But it’s with that possibility in mind, and its obvious echoes of John McCain’s “high-risk, high-reward” decision to run with Sarah Palin in 2008, that you should read the Ben Smith’s Buzzfeed report full of blind quotes from Romney advisors suggesting the choice of Ryan was very much opposed by the political pros on his team:

“Everybody was against [Ryan] to start with only Romney for,” said one top Republican, who is skeptical of the choice and griped that Romney’s top advisors have “been giving Mitt everything he wanted in this campaign….”

Another Republican in conversation with the campaign — though not a member of the inner circle of Romney advisers — said the early skeptics tended to be the political professionals, including consultants Stuart Stevens and Russ Schriefer, and pollster Neil Newhouse, while Myers, foreign policy advisor Dan Senor, and ultimately Romney himself favored Ryan. (Those involved declined to shed light on the campaign’s most confidential conversations; and others, including Myers, disputed that characterization; she said Saturday she kept her opinion to herself.)

The debate inside the campaign, sources and other media reports said, in fact took into account many of the same concerns about Ryan that were aired publicly.

“Many close aides had been lobbying for the low-risk, nonobjectionable Pawlenty, arguing that the two could run as outsiders taking on Washington,” Politico noted Sunday.

Smith goes on to note that some of this talk from within the Romney camp may be designed to underline Mitt’s bold and independent nature–not exactly a big part of his rep–implicitly rebutting the more common interpretations that the choice was made as a tug of the forelock to restive movement conservatives, or in response to adverse polling data. But make no mistake: if Romney/Ryan bombs, such stories will also provide cover for Mitt staffers who would like to have a future in national politics, much as the similar, if more than a little retroactive, complaints about Palin were used to absolve McCain staffers after 2008. I can imagine a sequel to Game Change coming out, although it’s not clear who exactly will get to play Steve Schmidt.

UPDATE: Realized later today that my original title (Game Change: Part Deux) for this post was the same as the subtitle of an earlier Clive Crook post at The Atlantic. This was inadvertant, since I hadn’t read Crook’s item, so I modified the title accordingly.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.