New and improved Romney

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  February 12, 2010

Behind the scenes
Of course, Romney might not run at all. And he certainly isn't talking about it publicly. But he's got all the machinery moving behind the scenes.

For instance, though Kaufmann doesn't acknowledge it, people familiar with the ongoing process say that he is acting as Romney's point man to steer the RNC toward the same single-window primary schedule as existed in 2008. (A special GOP committee will present a plan for the 2012 primaries to the RNC this summer. The plan will maintain the four "pre-window" states, but some in the party are hoping to create some kind of staggered window to prevent a Super-Duper Tuesday scenario.)

And Romney has invested heavily in maintaining his national network, spending nearly $3 million last year out of his national Free and Strong America PAC and his five state-level PACs, which he set up as far back as 2004. Most of that has been spent to keep his core people and consultants on the payroll. Many others from the campaign have been "taken care of" with jobs working for supportive pols and business leaders, who function as "extensions of Romney Inc.," as one Republican consultant puts it. "It's easy to keep people around and interested if you've got money to spread around," he adds.

It's not so easy to keep people around who you're asking for money — especially after losing. Yet Romney has retained the loyalty of much of his donor base — including folks like Achtmayer and Costa. Of the $2.9 million raised by his PAC last year, at least $400,000 came from individuals who had contributed early to his PAC four years ago.

In fact, most observers agree that Romney is doing everything right to prepare for a 2012 run at the GOP nomination. And many think he's making a wise move away from the social issues, toward the "real" Romney — assuming, of course, that this is his last reinvention.

To read the "Talking Politics" blog, go to thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. David S. Bernstein can be reached at dbernstein@phx.com.

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