Charlie Rose Interviews Stuart Stevens, Chief Strategist For Mitt Romney

Part of an on-going attempt to illuminate the life and career of a political consultant, in this case, Stuart Stevens; other posts include “He Hates You”, a summary profile, a brief look at his China travel memoir, Night Train to Turkistan, his memoir of the 2000 Bush campaign, a look at his travel memoir Malaria Dreams, an analysis of his novel Scorched Earth, an analysis of his book Feeding Frenzy, Stevens and Jon Hinson, an analysis of an episode of “Commander in Chief” which he co-wrote, and his defense of Newt Gingrich on “Charlie Rose”. Outside profiles and mentions, all excellent, are “Building a Better Mitt Romney-Bot” by Robert Draper, “An Unconventional Strategist Reshaping Romney” by Ashley Parker, “The Coming Tsunami of Slime” by Joe Hagan, and “Mitt Romney’s Dark Knight” by Jason Zengerle.

The video of the full interview can be found at Charlie Rose’s site. I find the interview hilarious because of the host; though I also pause to post this – this seems like sadism, without the possibility of insight, even with the strange attitude at the end about places outside Europe. However, given that Republican candidates are cheerfully making an issue of cultural issues, including Prop 8, and Stevens enjoys politics because it allows him the possibility of hitting somebody, this might be an example of people hitting back…but mainly I post it for the hilarity that is Charlie Rose.

A partial transcript.

CHARLIE ROSE: Stuart Stevens got away with the perfect crime. He rode around Europe in a vintage Mustang and somebody else’s girlfriend (starts laughing) and he ate out at a different three star restaurant almost every night for a month. All the evidence against him is in this book, Feeding Frenzy. He is a political consultant, a travel writer, an athlete, a scriptwriter, a gourmet, and he joins me now to answer the question: Who. Paid.

ROSE: Who. Paid?

STUART STEVENS: Well, perfect crime (inaudible)

ROSE: And who were your traveling companions?

STEVENS: Uh, well, read the book, Charlie. A wonderful woman…

ROSE: …who you call Rat. Works out with you at Body Beautiful or wherever you work out.

STEVENS: We like to eat, we like to go to gyms. She’s a wonderful woman.

ROSE: She’s a friend. This is a platonic relationship, wasn’t it?

STEVENS: This is true.

ROSE: This is true. And you two…went to Europe (international hand gesture for “went to Europe”). Why…how did the idea come up?

STEVENS: Uh…

ROSE: Don’t be coy with me, okay?

STEVENS: I’m not being coy with you. It seemed like…

ROSE: Or even distant about this.

STEVENS: It seemed…it seemed…like a ridiculous notion. I like to do things to excess.

ROSE: Yeah, no kidding.

STEVENS: I think by doing things to excess you crack them open and have fun. And I thought it was a fairly ridiculous notion to go and eat in all these restaurants…if you want to go…you need a structure. So there’s a simple structure. Twenty-nine three star Michelin restaurants. Why don’t I go to all of them on consecutive days? It seemed like a ridiculous notion.

ROSE: Thirty days, thirty restaurants?

STEVENS: Thirty days, thirty restaurants. And I think you have to follow these ridiculous notions from time to time, to kindof see where they lead.

ROSE: Okay. Bear with me…because this is all in the book, so I’m not trying to strike out on ground that’s private.

STEVENS: Fair enough.

ROSE: It’s a little unusual for a married man to go away with a beautiful young woman to eat their way through Michelin restaurants for thirty days. It’s unusual. So, explain yourself.

STEVENS: I have this…sortof…pattern…of time to time going off…

ROSE: I can’t wait to hear this!

STEVENS: …with someone…

ROSE: To climb mountains or do whatever. (makes international “Climb mountains or whatever” hand gesture)

STEVENS: It’s much more fun to go with…

ROSE: YOUR WIFE!

STEVENS: It’s much more fun to go with someone who’s female than, rather some guys.

ROSE: Yeah, basically, you go into a restaurant one time…this is in the book, so this is not…in London.

STEVENS: Right.

ROSE: And you’re there with a stunningly beautiful woman. Your friend. Platonic friend. Rat. And you look over there and there are ten young investment banker preppie wannabes, wannabe somethings. And you say to yourself I’m so happy I’m not talking to them, I’m talking to her.

STEVENS: Absolutely. I never was one of those guys that kind of like was like, let’s go out to dinner with the guys.

ROSE: (laughing) Right.

STEVEN: You know, but I had taken this trip through China. And I’d taken this trip through Africa. And it seemed sorta that I was due to go someplace that people actually go on purpose.

Images and interview excerpt copyright Rose Communications Inc.

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