WASHINGTON -- As Republicans search for reasons why they came up short in Tuesday's elections, anonymous Mitt Romney advisers have described what it was like to be with the former governor as he came to terms with his loss.
"He was shellshocked," one adviser told CBS News.
Another unnamed senior adviser explained that as returns came in and battleground states went into President Barack Obama's Electoral College column, they felt their paths to potential victory narrowing. CBS reports that the campaign was unprepared for this in part because it had ignored polling that showed the races favoring Obama. Instead, it turned to its own internal "unskewed" polls, which it believed more accurately reflected the situation on the ground. They didn't.
On the eve of the election, a number of polling aggregators, including HuffPost's Pollster and New York Times' FiveThirtyEight, showed Obama with a huge statistical advantage over Romney.
When it was clear that Romney had lost the race and had to concede, his personal assistant, Garrett Jackson, called his counterpart in the Obama campaign, Marvin Nicholson, to connect the two men.
As CBS' Jan Crawford writes in her article:
Romney was stoic as he talked to the president, an aide said, but his wife Ann cried. Running mate Paul Ryan seemed genuinely shocked, the adviser said. Ryan's wife Janna also was shaken and cried softly.
The New York Times' tick-tock of the events that night at the Boston Intercontinental Hotel includes this anecdote:
Bob White, a close Romney friend and adviser, was prepared to tell the waiting crowd that Mr. Romney would not yet concede.
But then, Mr. Romney quietly decided it was over. "It's not going to happen," he said.
As Ann Romney cried softly, he headed down to deliver his speech, ending his second, and presumably last, bid for the White House.
As evidence of the Romney campaign's sincere belief that the former Massachusetts governor would emerge victorious on Tuesday night, the Boston Globe reported Thursday that it had planned to fete Romney's election with an eight-minute display of fireworks over Boston Harbor.
"It was not an intense, grand finale-type of display for eight minutes, but it certainly was a fast-paced show to cap off the evening, if it were necessary," Steve Pelkey, the CEO of Atlas Professional Fireworks Displays, told the Globe.
Romney also told reporters on his campaign plane earlier this week that while he had written a victory speech, he hadn't prepared concession remarks.
UPDATE: 6 p.m., Nov. 12 -- This article has been updated to change the last name of CBS' Jan Crawford Greenburg to the surname she now uses, Crawford.
Follow Daniel Lippman on Twitter @dlippman
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