The Mission

Mitt Romney’s strategies for success.

  • Editors' Pick
  1. On a recent Thursday in Derry, New Hampshire, Mitt Romney, the Republican Presidential candidate, was engaged in a conversation about milkshakes. It was early afternoon at a nineteen-fifties-themed diner called MaryAnn’s, and Romney, surrounded by cameramen and reporters, went from table to table introducing himself to voters. Before running for office in Massachusetts—unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1994 and, successfully, for governor in 2002—Romney made a fortune as a management consultant and leveraged-buyout specialist, and, in twenty-five years in the business world, he learned to love information-gathering. “There are answers in numbers—gold in numbers,” he wrote in “Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games,” his 2004 memoir. “Pile the budgets on my desk and let me wallow.” His campaign manager, Beth Myers, told me recently that Romney regularly checks Mittromney.com, and sends off e-mails to aides, asking them to add more detailed information to the site.

    At MaryAnn’s, Romney, his suit jacket removed and his sleeves rolled up, made his way swiftly through the restaurant, methodically quizzing the patrons. He sat down with two gray-haired women in a booth and pointed to a creamy drink on the table. “Is this a malt or is this a milkshake?” he asked.

    “It’s a frappe,” one of the women replied.

    “We call that a milkshake in the Midwest,” Romney, who has lived in Massachusetts for the past thirty-six years, said. “It’s a frappe here, right? This is i...