“The White House staff is similar to a holding company” read one PowerPoint slide, which would have been presented to President-elect Romney as part of an expansive briefing on the morning after Election Day. It went on to list three main divisions of the metaphorical firm: “Care & Feeding Offices,” like speechwriting, “Policy Offices,” like the National Security Council, and “Packaging & Selling Offices,” like the office of the press secretary. This was the view of the Presidency Romney would have brought with him to Washington, a glimpse of the White House that never was — and plan that never saw the light of day…

Even before the election, hundreds of staffers held table-top practice drills to game out how they would parachute into federal agencies to learn the ropes and explore policies and procedures for the new administration to change. Another team would work in “the bunker,” a secure room in the federal office building housing the transition where potential Cabinet and senior staff nominees and appointees were vetted. By Election Day, nearly 20 researchers and lawyers had prepared Romney to select his entire Cabinet and more than 25 senior White House staffers, as well as deputies for key departments and agency heads.