The Boston Globe:
Black and champagne-colored sport utility vehicles lined up outside Mitt Romney’s North End campaign headquarters one day last week and, for one of the few times this year, the candidate bounded into the building for what amounted to a homecoming.
Greeting the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was an eclectic cast of advisers who are as familiar to him as his own family, an extraordinarily tight-knit circle that includes about a dozen men and women who, for more than a decade, have formed the core of Team Romney.
Often secretive and always loyal, the advisers now face their ultimate test: transitioning from a relatively small circle that guided Romney through bruising primaries to a group that is expected to grow far larger in just a matter of weeks in order to reset the campaign for a general election fight against President Obama.
A number of those in the inner core have not previously worked in a presidential general election campaign, and new players with national experience recently have begun joining the campaign, potentially challenging the hierarchy with which Romney feels so comfortable. But some of Romney’s top advisers, speaking in interviews in which they discussed the candidate’s general election plans and decision-making process, said the core group will remain even as they welcome newcomers and new views.
(...) The expansion, and the potential change that comes with it, will be swift. Romney’s campaign is preparing a dramatic increase in manpower, with the current full-time staff of about 80 expected to reach 400 in the coming weeks, according to a Romney aide.
(...) As a former business consultant, Romney is viewed as putting a much higher premium on the value of advisers than some other presidential candidates. Emulating what became known as the “Bain way,’’ named for the manner in which Romney’s Bain Capital partners debated investments, his campaign advisers are urged to play devil’s advocate as strategy is mulled. In the 2008 campaign, this approach backfired, with competing teams of advisers going in different directions. This time, the key difference is that the core team is smaller and even more loyal, and decisions are not second-guessed after they are reached, aides said.
(...) Romney’s longest-serving aides have been with him at least since he ran for governor in 2002. They include Beth Myers, a former gubernatorial campaign volunteer who became Romney’s chief of staff on Beacon Hill, and Eric Fehrnstrom, who served as a Romney spokesman during his governorship and in 2008. Now a senior adviser, Fehrnstrom recently created controversy when he compared the transition to the general election to shaking an Etch-A-Sketch. Notwithstanding the damage from that remark, Fehrnstrom is so close to Romney that the candidate promptly stood by his adviser, further cementing the already strong bonds of two-way loyalty within the team.
“Eric and I can finish each other’s sentences,’’ Myers said. “We’ve been working together for 10 years.’’
Other longtime aides include Peter Flaherty, a former gubernatorial aide who is a senior adviser; Spencer Zwick, another former gubernatorial aide who is the campaign’s finance director; Matt Rhoades, the 2008 communications director and now campaign manager; and Bob White, a former Bain Capital partner who is one of Romney’s most trusted friends.
While these former gubernatorial aides have not played a major role in a general election presidential campaign, Romney has several other key advisers who have such experience, including longtime friend Ron Kaufman and political strategists Stuart Stevens and Russ Schriefer, all of whom worked with Romney on his failed 2008 White House bid.
Still, in recent weeks, and often with little fanfare, new faces have started showing up as advisers. The campaign announced that Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman who served as a strategist for President George W. Bush, would become a senior adviser. The Romney campaign declined to make Gillespie available for an interview, and he said via e-mail that he could not talk without such authorization. Another longtime GOP operative, Charles Black, a former strategist for Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, also became a Romney adviser earlier this year. Black could not be reached for comment.
(...) While Romney tweaks Harvard University - he said recently that Obama is out of touch, maybe because he spent too many years at Harvard - many of his advisers hold graduate degrees from the Ivy League school, and Romney himself is a Harvard Law and Business School graduate. And while he has criticized the culture of Washington, many of his advisers are current or former lobbyists.
Some of those tapped as advisers have taken positions out of sync with Romney on key issues, something not uncommon for Romney, who professes to want a range of debate within his team.