jueves, 24 de mayo de 2012

El Primer Amigo de Romney

The New Republic hace un perfil de Bob White, asesor y amigo del candidato:

Any taxonomy of first friends includes a few familiar types. There’s the amiable glad-hander destined for the outer Cabinet, like George W. Bush crony Don Evans. There’s the scheming, scandal-prone loyalist, like the Clinton hanger-on Harry Thomason, of Travelgate infamy. And then there’s the discreet consigliere who serves alternatively as fixer, sounding board, chief surrogate, and all-around defender of the faith.

Personal friends with such outsize influence are actually quite rare in presidential politics. Within recent administrations, only Valerie Jarrett really fits the profile. But, as it happens, Jarrett won’t be the only Valerie Jarrett–figure advising a presidential candidate this year. Mitt Romney has his own longtime-pal-cum-alter-ego, a 56-year-old ex-Bain Capital partner named Bob White.

White, who is trim with graying brown hair, was one of Romney’s original hires when launching the private-equity firm back in the 1980s. He has been at Romney’s side in every major endeavor he’s undertaken since, from the Olympics to the campaign trail. Over the course of Romney’s career, White has served as debate prepper, personnel vetter, designated gut-checker, in-house historian, and diplomatic envoy. It was White who found Romney a campaign manager for his run for governor, White who headed his transition to the Massachusetts statehouse, White who has chaired his campaigns for president.

Since the start of the Republican primaries, White has served as the chief advice-broker within the campaign. “Are we a family that has internal squabbles? Absolutely,” says Ron Kaufman, a top Romney adviser. “One reason it works is Bob. People go to Bob all the time and say, ‘You’ve got to tell Mitt this.’ ... Knowing how to do it, when to do it, is his huge talent.” White has also weighed in personally at key moments. When pressure built on Romney to release his tax returns, White helped persuade the candidate to take his time, arguing, as another adviser puts it, that “you never release something that’s five hundred pages long or more till you understand it.” And he has helped formulate retorts to attacks on Romney’s wealth. When Newt Gingrich badgered Romney for investing in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, White observed that Romney didn’t own stock in the disgraced mortgage giants; his blind trust owned bonds through a mutual fund—a less direct investment than Gingrich’s own Fannie and Freddie holdings. Romney made the point in a Florida debate to devastating effect.

White’s status in Romneyworld is all the more remarkable given that the former Massachusetts governor is often described as essentially friendless—the one contemporary pol who is even more of a loner than Barack Obama himself. But Romney’s affection for White is such that he refers to him simply as “TQ”—short for “The Quail,” an old Bain nickname. (The “bobwhite” is a species of quail, the joke being that there is nothing remotely skittish or meek about the actual Bob White.) Which, in the end, is what makes White such an intriguing figure. For a politician often viewed as maddeningly opaque—whose persona even the most charitable observers concede has shifted over time—there may be nothing so revealing as his choice of trusty wingman.

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