Romney Choked During McCain's Lehman Moment, Too

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Former campaign staffers for Sen. John McCain's failed presidential run have told The New York Times Magazine's Robert Draper that Mitt Romney was in the same room with them almost four years ago during the discussion of the financial crisis which led to McCain deciding to suspend his campaign and return to Washington. And he wasn't much help. This has gone on to be known as his "Lehman moment," when the wheels came off the McCain campaign—or at least critically undermined his ability to sell himself as a plausible president. In Draper's account, Romney did not mount any objections in the meeting. 

That day in the Hilton conference room, however, Romney did not distinguish himself as McCain struggled to decide what course he should recommend in Washington. Holtz-Eakin recalls “nothing specifically” that Romney had to offer. The other McCain senior staff member is more emphatic: “The reality is he didn’t take command. He wasn’t a Marshall-type figure who conveyed an understanding of both business and politics. But the truth is, no one else had any clue what to do, either.” Then he added, “There wasn’t a single person in the room, including Romney, who had any specific policy recommendation.”

Draper's read is particularly riveting because the McCain staffers he talked to are hitting Romney when it hurts and at a time when Quinnipiac's polls released today show him trailing the president on the economy—a topic that was thought to be Romney's strength and a major weakness for Obama. And Draper's piece also belies the words Romney himself have said. "I will not need briefings on how the economy works. I know how it works. I’ve been there," Romney  Well, when Romney was there, face-to-face with an economic hydra staring him straight in the eye, he reacted, as Draper reports, just like everyone else—he choked.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.