Others in the Romney campaign, speaking on the condition of anonymity, were bitter that the super PACs didn’t do more to defend the Republican nominee and his business record, particularly in the late summer, when the campaign had run through its own primary-season funding.
“We didn’t have any air cover,” lamented one senior adviser.
That, Rove suggested, was the result of a missed signal.
The law forbids super PACs from coordinating with candidates, so it sets up an interaction that Rove compares to playing bridge, a game in which players make their moves based on cues from their partners. [See other analogies here.]
“We can’t talk to the campaigns,” he said. “But we’ve got to understand what the candidate’s message is by closely following their public statements and campaign activities, do a lot of research to understand what the weaknesses of their opponents are, and read the tea leaves.”
In July, after Obama and his allies began pounding Romney’s record at the private equity firm Bain Capital, Crossroads spent $9.3 million on ads in nine states, in which a female narrator asked: “What happened to Barack Obama? The press and even Democrats say his attacks on Mitt Romney’s business record are misleading, unfair and untrue.”
The response from the Romney campaign? Radio silence, which the Crossroads team read to mean the strategists in Boston did not believe engaging on that issue was important. So Crossroads quit running the spots.