This time around, Beth Myers is in exactly the right position for Mitt Romney’s presidential run, say colleagues of the senior adviser to the former Massachusetts governor.
Myers, 55, took some heat for Romney’s failed bid for the Republican nomination in 2008, when she was the campaign manager trying to make sure everything clicked in a high-powered national road show. By her own admission, Myers is not best-suited for organizing hundreds of people and details on a daily basis.
In this campaign, she has focused on her strength—channeling information and advice to the candidate in a role described by her peers with words ranging from “consig-liere” to “den mother.” And that assignment appears to be going quite smoothly.
The carefully orchestrated search for Romney’s running mate is the ultimate case in point. Myers led the selection process, vetting all the candidates and providing comprehensive assessments to Romney so he could make the call. After he did in early August, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., traveled from Wisconsin to New England to seal the deal, with Myers’s 19-year-old son, Curt, doing the driving on one leg of the journey. A week later, the campaign shuttled Ryan from Wisconsin to Illinois to North Carolina and finally to Norfolk, Va., in a flawless cloak-and-dagger operation that kept the announcement secret until the evening before Ryan was introduced on the deck of the USS Wisconsin.
“It’s reflective of how a Romney administration would work,” said Doug Gross, an Iowa lawyer who chaired the former governor’s 2008 campaign in the state.
Myers was miscast as national campaign manager four years ago, Gross said, and everyone from Romney on down realized it later. “Now she’s a consigliere to Mitt, a key adviser and consultant,” he said. “She knows better than anyone how the candidate thinks. Except for Ann, no one knows him better.”
Romney’s campaign finance chairman, Spencer Zwick, said that Myers was not responsible for Romney’s primary loss to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “Say what you want about 2008,” he said, but “our strategy in ’08 was to do exactly what we did. If the strategy was wrong, that was not Beth’s fault…. Now her role is in shaping that strategy.”
Gross noted that Myers proved her political savvy in 2010 by guiding Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown to a stunning win in the Senate race to finish Edward Kennedy’s term. Myers’s value to the Romney campaign is “not so much that she knows the candidate,” Zwick said. “I would say she knows the way Mitt makes decisions and has his complete trust and confidence…. I can’t think of a time when he said to her, ‘No, I would have done it differently.’ ”
Myers is also considered something of a den mother to the campaign staff, always remembering birthdays or sensing that someone needs a lift, Zwick said. “She has this incredible instinct, this ability to kind of care for people,” he said. “People love to be around her.” A North Carolina native who grew up in upstate New York and Ohio, Myers went to Tufts University in Boston and moved to Texas after graduation in 1980 to work for Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign.
The head of the Texas Victory Committee at the time was Karl Rove, who would later become the political mastermind for George W. Bush, the future Texas governor and U.S. president. With Rove’s guidance, Myers was on her way to a career in political organizing and consulting.
After eight years in Texas GOP politics, Myers married a business consultant and earned a law degree, which led to a job with the Dallas-based firm Akin, Gump. In 1994, an old college friend, Joe Malone, brought her back to Boston to be his chief of staff as Massachusetts treasurer, a job that eventually introduced her to Romney. Myers volunteered for Romney’s gubernatorial campaign in 2002, serving as a stand-in for Democratic opponent Shannon O’Brien in debate preparations.
“Her answers were so good,” Zwick said. “Mitt would get so frustrated, and she would slam him every single time.” That’s when Romney decided he needed Myers on his staff full time.
After Romney won the governor’s race, he made Myers his chief of staff, and she’s been a top adviser ever since.
This article appears in the August 30, 2012, edition of NJ Convention Daily.