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Romney splits with key debate coach Brett O'Donnell

Washington, Sat, 04 Feb 2012 ANI

Washington, Feb.4 (ANI): A Republican operative who won plaudits for bolstering Mitt Romney's recent debate performances is not being retained by the frontrunner's campaign.


Brett O'Donnell, a former top aide to Michele Bachmann, has become an apparent victim of internal tensions over staff receiving too much credit for the candidate's comeback, Politico has learned.


O'Donnell has been paid for his work assisting Romney in the crucial Florida debates, but was not offered a formal role with the campaign as he expected, according to Republican sources familiar with the situation.


O'Donnell received phone calls late last week from two Romney advisers - campaign manager Matt Rhoades and informal adviser Charlie Black - where it was made clear that there was severe discomfort about how his role was being portrayed in the media and that he ought to tread lightly.


Then on Saturday, when the New York Times posted a Sunday story online detailing how Romney's campaign targeted Newt Gingrich in Florida that again mentioned O'Donnell's role with the debates, chief Romney strategist Stuart Stevens called O'Donnell.


Stevens asked the adviser to contact Jim Rutenberg, one of the Times reporters who wrote the piece, and request that the reporter change the depiction of O'Donnell's role in what would become a front-page article, according to Republican sources.


The Times altered some of the language relating to O'Donnell in the final story - he was mentioned briefly as only a "debate adviser" - but O'Donnell's name was not removed. O'Donnell was not quoted in the story.


Reached on the phone by POLITICO Friday, O'Donnell declined to comment.


A former Liberty University debate coach, O'Donnell worked for John McCain's 2008 campaign and was a senior aide to Bachmann up until her withdrawal from the campaign last month.


He's well-regarded in the Republican operative world and is not generally known as a self-promoter. (ANI)


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