Behind Closed Doors, Romney at Peace as Vote Nears

Behind Closed Doors, Romney at Peace as Vote Nears

By Scott Conroy - October 18, 2012

After a lifetime of meticulous planning, relentless self-discipline, and a potent brew of hard work and good fortune, Mitt Romney has the presidency nearly within reach.

The pursuit of that ultimate political prize, which he first caught whiff of when his father chased it more than four decades ago, has been Romney's sole vocation over the last half-dozen years.

He has pursued it with rare vigor, slogging through a nomadic existence of takeout meals, countless handshakes and canned speeches.

Over that time, there have been more than a few moments when his quest seemed like it might come to an unceremonious end. But the political destiny Mitt Romney has been working toward for so long has never been more attainable than it is now with just 19 days left till the election.

Not one to indulge in introspection when there is still much work to do, the GOP nominee has neither the time nor inclination to reflect on his odyssey before the votes are tallied on Nov. 6.

But according to many of his aides -- who have had a closer vantage point than anyone other than Romney’s immediate family -- the candidate who frequently appeared ill at ease along his journey has gained a sense of peace from knowing he’s done just about all he can to make his case for the presidency.

Senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom has been by Romney’s side since his 2002 gubernatorial campaign. The former Boston Herald reporter-turned-Romney-confidant said his boss is “tired but running on adrenaline” and remains focused on the task at hand -- while also cognizant that his fate now rests largely outside his control.

“You know, the cake is baked,” Fehrnstrom said. “All the policy is done, the debates are nearly over now, scheduling is just about finished, we know all the battleground states we’re going to be visiting over the next three weeks. The arguments have all been developed and deployed, so it really is a matter now of talking to as many people as possible in the states that matter until Nov. 6.”

No one in the campaign has any doubts that during the stretch run, Romney will push into an even higher gear, heightening the work ethic that has awed those around him and been a key factor in getting him to this point.

And with another crucial debate, dozens more rallies, and formulating and effectively conveying a closing message still on his to-do list, there are plenty of reasons for Romney to resist the temptation to glimpse into the rear-view mirror.

This equanimity and acceptance differs dramatically from Romney’s state of mind earlier this month when he trailed in the polls, reports of campaign staff turmoil were rife and he scarcely seemed able to open his mouth without making matters worse.

It was then, when the pre-mortem vultures were circling over his campaign’s still beating heart, that even close supporters wondered whether Romney could right the ship.

Kevin Madden is one of the few senior aides who have been by Romney’s side through most of the candidate’s waking hours the last couple of months. According to the veteran of Romney’s 2008 campaign, the pre-Denver debate doldrums had a positive effect on the man who built a reputation in business as a turnaround specialist.

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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