Low Concept

How Would Mitt Romney Fix the Mitt Romney Campaign?

Imagining a Bain Capital takeover.

Mitt the private equity manager has tough words for Mitt the candidate

Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages.

From: Mitt Romney, CEO, Bain Capital

To: Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate

My friend, I couldn’t help but notice that your campaign has been underperforming of late, what with those sagging poll numbers, the infighting among your staff, and now this unfortunate “47 percent” speech. I’ve turned around dozens of floundering organizations and I’ve rarely seen one in such sorry shape. But I’m here to tell you that this campaign can still be salvaged. It just needs a little restructuring. And some outsourcing. And some firing. You know, the usual.

Here’s how we’ll do it, step by step.

Right-size the workforce. Let me get this straight: An editor at Yahoo News takes a swipe at your campaign and gets canned faster than you can say “hot mic.” But your own “aides, advisers, and friends” are taking potshots at your campaign, and you’re planning “no major changes?” We need to bring back the Mitt who liked being able to fire people. Start handing out pink slips, and don’t stop until at least 30 percent of your workforce has joined the 8.3 percent. Bonus: Raising the unemployment rate is your best chance at this point.

Eliminate redundancies. Politico reports that you had at least three convention speechwriters whose work you didn’t even use. Tell Wehner, McConnell, and Scully to clean out their desks. Instant streamlining.

Bring in a handpicked, temporary turnaround management team. Forget “Karl Rove equivalents.” Get the real Karl Rove. He’s available.

Outsource the phone banks. Your firms used to be “pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers.” You can’t afford to have Americans calling their fellow Americans to tell them to vote for you. Ship this operation to India.

Sell off underperforming assets. With offices in all 50 states, you’re hopelessly overextended. Write off New York and California and all those other blue states. You said it: They’re not going to vote for you, so don’t waste your time. Likewise, stump speeches in Michigan and Massachusetts probably sounded great when you were in growth mode, but at this point you can’t justify those expenses. Yes, I know those are your home states. But this is business—we can’t afford to be sentimental.

Focus on your core value proposition. What are your core values again? Well, anyway, whatever they are, you can’t be everything to everyone. You’re poorly positioned in the health care ideas market, your forays into foreign policy are a distraction, and your position on abortion isn’t paying any dividends either. The way I see it, your only real competitive advantage is that you’re not Obama. Never stray from that single fact, and you might be surprised how far you’ll go.

Leverage up. You’ve got more than $150 million on hand, which is nice—except that you’re going to need half a billion if you want to right this sinking ship. Sell your buddy Adelson another round of promissory notes on Israel policy to raise some fresh capital.

Know your target market. Start referring to the poor and unemployed as “the bums.” The 53 percent will appreciate the straight talk.

Find a high-profile scapegoat. Mitt, I have a lot of respect for the work you’ve done. No one will be sorrier to see you go than I am. But the changes have to start at the top, and let’s face it: You’ve been the source of a lot of the problems around here. Someone’s got to take the fall for this mess, and it isn’t going to be me. I mean, it is going to be me.

Put a fresh face out front. We need a young, ambitious go-getter—a real ideas guy—who we can hold up as the face of this organization. Someone who’d restore the faith of investors and suggest we’re moving in a new direction. What do you make of this Ryan character?