The first thing you need to know about Beth Myers, Mitt Romney’s senior adviser who will be leading the search to pick his vice presidential nominee: She’s not going to pull a Dick Cheney.
"I would say that is not a high likelihood,” Myers joked when asked tongue-in-cheek by National Journal if she planned to replicate the actions of George W. Bush’s vice president, who was appointed to lead the veep search before settling on himself.
Myers is a relatively private person whose new responsibilities on the campaign thrust her into the spotlight on Monday after Romney told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that he has tapped his longtime aide to vet his future running mate.
Myers knows Romney well. She met him in the 1990s when she moved back to Massachusetts (she had first lived there while attending Tufts University) but got to know him well in 2002 when she volunteered on his gubernatorial campaign. She served as his chief of staff during his time as governor before managing his unsuccessful 2008 bid for the presidency.
And that leads to the second thing you need to know about Myers: She’s Romney’s longtime confidante, the person who will gather and sift through information about the potential candidates and present them to the former Massachusetts governor.
She’ll be his eyes and hears and constant conversation partner in this process—she has the office right next to his in the campaign’s Boston headquarters—but the decision about who to pick will ultimately the result of Romney’s judgment, not a recommendation from his staff.
"I’ll put all the information on the table,” Myers said. “He is the decider."
The decision to put Myers in charge of of vetting the vice presidential nominee is a sign that control over the Romney campaign will remain in the hands of a small group of aides and advisers despite the expectation that the staff will balloon in the coming weeks as the operation transitions from primary- to general-election mode. Romney talked to her about taking on the new responsibility as part of a larger discussion about what needed to shift the campaign forward to the fall, Myers said.
Like any Romney campaign decision, this one will be driven by facts and data, something Myers said with confidence even though she hasn’t even yet begun the process of plotting strategy or choosing a staff to assist her.
“I think he felt comfortable that I would get him the information in a way so that he would make the best decision,” she said.
Eric Fehrnstrom, another of Romney’s senior advisers and her partner at a consulting company called the Shawmut Group, ticked off other qualities that were a factor in the selection: Myers's background as a lawyer, her methodical approach to problem solving, and her organizational skills. As an example of her managerial abilities, he pointed to her role in managing the process of preparing Romney for the nearly two dozen debates during the primaries.
“She knows Mitt’s personal management style better than anyone, she knows how he operates, that he welcomes debate and discussion, that he works best with data—she has a good understanding of what Mitt looks for when it comes to decision-making,” Fehrnstrom said.
While Myers hasn’t gotten far into the process of setting up a search committee, she did say she expects to study both Democratic and Republican selection processes dating back to the selection of Walter Mondale as Jimmy Carter’s running mate in 1976—the beginning of the modern vice president, as she sees it.
Her work in politics goes back nearly that far. Just a year after her graduation from Tufts in 1979, she was able to get a job working on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential bid (she worked on the Texas Victory Committee under the direction of Karl Rove) and went on to work for a host of other candidates and on get-out-the-vote operations across the country. She also earned a J.D. from Southern Methodist University School of Law and worked at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP in Dallas.
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