“Our preference would be a push for a one-year extension on the tax side and use ’13 for the Romney administration to lay out their vision and push for tax reform,” said a senior Senate GOP aide. On the defense sequester, the aide said, there’s a belief in leadership circles that Republicans and Democrats can find a way to replace the early months of mandated spending cuts. Democrats, including the president, have also expressed optimism about that, but there’s still an impasse over whether tax increases would be part of the mix.
Only a few weeks ago, Romney’s large transition staff seemed — even to many of the participants — to be engaged in a bit of an exercise in make-believe.
If the nominee is down in nearly every swing state, some participants recalled, it’s harder to muster gusto for gaming out when to use budget reconciliation as part of the legislative strategy or for preparing long dossiers on potential nominees.
Now that Romney has pulled within striking distance nearly everywhere, the Readiness Project is being flooded with calls and emails from Republicans around Washington who are suddenly eager to be helpful, according to top Romney aides.
“Now, we’re shooting with real bullets,” a Romney adviser said. “We’re already ready to merge the campaign with the transition.”
Romney, as part of the CEO mind-set that he has vowed to bring to the West Wing, has put more time and thought into building his potential government than has been typical for presidential candidates.
Each Monday, often on the road, he shuts out his campaign staff and meets with the confidant who is heading his transition and is likely to be his White House chief of staff — Mike Leavitt, the former Utah governor and secretary of Health and Human Services.
Romney advisers say that unlike the campaign headquarters in Boston, which has a variety of power centers, Leavitt would be given unquestioned authority. Top Romney aides say they have studied the opening months and moves by Bush and President Barack Obama, and are building a government designed to avoid their mistakes.