Ten Miles Square

September/October 2012 Party Animals

Any chance Romney might govern as a moderate? For a clue, look at his senior staff.

By Jonathan Bernstein

To the extent that we can tell, however, it seems likely that Romney’s executive office, including White House staff, would be just as tied in to his party’s network as that of any recent president. While a somewhat greater proportion may be personally connected to Romney than is the case with, say, Obama—whose personal network coming into office was not nearly as extensive as Romney’s is — there’s no reason to expect any real distance between him and the Republican Party network. We’re not seeing, in personnel, anything that even remotely hints at, for example, an attempted Bain takeover of the executive branch. The bottom line is that it is far more likely that a Mitt Romney presidency will be defined by the Republican Party than that he will define his party.

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.


  • drf on September 10, 2012 9:34 AM:

    I'm guessing that, with Romney, the loyalty factor is even less meaningful than with other recent Presidents. The political operatives who have been with him since his tenure as Governor have, I suspect, been very well paid by Romney in the intervening years. I wonder how much natural, personal loyalty he commands?

    Let's also remember that, if Romney is elected, the real control will be exercised by the Congressional Republicans, and the right wing of the party, which is deeply suspicious of Romney, won't cut him any slack. His appointments will be carefully screened by the right wing leadership. I would be surprised if they allow him to retain more than a couple of advisors who aren't committed hard core types.

  • John Dillinger on September 13, 2012 4:10 PM:

    You are ignoring a key factor driving this: over the past 40 years, the WH apparatus--political and policy--has become too large for any President to staff it without looking outside his inner circle. Senate staffs are only so large, and don't contain all the skill sets needed to successfully run the WH these days. A governor's staff is broader, but only contains so many people with skills transferable from a state capitol to DC. Presidents have nowhere else to turn except to party pros. And thus you get the so-called "permanent" government.