An Open Letter to Team Romney

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Dear Team Romney: Even after last night and a loss so unexpected, so devastating that you didn’t even bother to try and spin it at all, you’re still the likliest GOP presidential nominee.

Just not as likely or as seemingly inevitable as you appeared to be just four days ago, when you came to Colorado, a state you won four years ago with 61 percent of the vote, fresh off your second-straight convincing primary win in Nevada.

Sure, you might still give Republicans their best chance to win Colorado come November — something that GOP caucuses, closed to the one-third of Coloradans who are registered independents, may not accurately reflect.

But your brand is now significantly tarnished in a critical swing state, one you seemed to have in your grasp.

And, honestly, it didn’t have to be this way.

Yours is a campaign built for the long haul, we get it. No single state will make or break your bid for the GOP nomination; and it’s understandable that your campaign and your Super PAC would opt against spending the money here you did in Florida to run the kind of TV ads that might have stopped Rick Santorum from pulling off Tuesday night’s unlikely trifecta.

We’re honestly not huge fans of negative political ads (although my bosses sure appreciate you running them on our air).

We also get that the modern campaign isn’t run through the media — it’s often run by managing the media, keeping reporters and their pesky questions at arm’s length.

And, yes, there are plenty of reasons for your loss here aside from your strategy with the media.

But, seriously, your campaign hasn’t held an open media availbility since Florida.

This TV station, like many of our Denver competitiors, I’m sure, sent you multiple requests to interview Gov. Romney.

You didn’t respond.

I’ve heard you did take some questions from the media Saturday in Colorado Springs, which, based on your showing there, didn’t do you a whole lot of good.

When it came to talking to the Denver media, you gave us the silent treatment. Sure, we showed up at your rallies anyway and heard you spouting the same, tired talking points again and again.

But when we offered an opportunity for you to humanize your candidate in a more personal interview setting — this is me channelling Jerry Maguire’s “help me, help you” moment — you declined.

Maybe, as you’re trying to shed that sticky “establishment” label, it might make sense to occasionally ditch the front-runner’s playbook that says to always play it safe rather than leave your candidate at-risk of getting thrown off message by a reporter’s question.

You’d think someone campaigning to be leader of the free world could handle questions from local reporters, as, say, Rick Santorum did whenever we and our competitiors approached him here over the past week.

Congratulations, though, on saving Gov. Romney the potential embarrassment that might have arisen from — gasp! — an unscripted moment.

That nightmarish scenario surely would have been worse than last night’s — going 0-for-3 because you couldn’t even salvage a win in a state you should have owned.

But, listen, if — if!!! — you make it back here this fall, we’ll still be here — and hoping to talk.

All the best,

Eli Stokols

UPDATE: Roughly one hour after this column was posted online, Romney’s campaign announced that the candidate would take questions from reporters for the first time in a week, which he did on an Atlanta tarmac Tuesday afternoon.

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