Romney trusts a tribesman
February 5, 2008
__Vice Provost Reiss moonlights as national security advisor__
p. After leaving the State Department in early 2005, Mitchell Reiss, vice provost of international studies at the College, asked to be introduced to then-Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney. This meeting led to Reiss’s appointment as national security advisor for Romney’s presidential campaign.
p. Reiss came to the College in 1999 as a professor of government and law. After four years, he took leave to work as director of policy planning to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and serve as the president’s special envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process. In 2005, the same year of his return to the College, Reiss met Romney.
p. “I had been following his career for a long time and was very impressed with his record of success,” Reiss said. One of Romney’s qualities he liked was his “proven ability to fix problems.”
p. Reiss watched Romney take the role of President and CEO of the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee in 2002 and save the Olympics from financial disaster.
p. On the campaign trail, Reiss works with notable political figures on national security issues. The team of foreign policy advisors includes Cofer Black, who works on counterterrorism, former Minn. representative Vin Weber, who serves as Chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy, and former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), who serves as Chairman of Romney’s domestic policy task force.
p. Reiss does not focus on a specific area in national security. “I respond to questions he has … I suggest articles and readings,” he said, “I make sure he has the information he needs, especially on issues like Iraq.”
p. In national security, “[Romney] adopts a very careful, methodical approach to gathering information and hearing all types of views … What distinguishes him [from other candidates] is his process.”
p. When asked about which Democratic candidate would pose the biggest challenge to Romney, Reiss responded, “Barack Obama. He is extremely intelligent and charismatic. He has tapped into the enthusiasm of young people.”
p. For now, Reiss uses his personal vacation time at the College to travel and work with Romney. However, Reiss has not made plans past the election process. “My job is to help [Romney] get elected. I’m not looking beyond that.”