Wehner came up with a draft he found pleasing, including the memorable line: “The incumbent president is trying to lower the expectations of our nation to the sorry level of his own achievement. He only wins if you settle.” It also included a reference to Afghanistan, which was jettisoned with the rest of his work.

Instead, eight days before the convention, at a time when a campaign usually would be done drafting and focused instead on practicing such a high-stakes speech, Stevens frantically contacted John McConnell and Matthew Scully, a speechwriting duo that had worked in George W. Bush’s campaign and White House. Stevens told them they would have to start from scratch on a new acceptance speech. Not only would they have only a few days to write it, but Romney would have little time to practice it…

“You design a campaign to reinforce the guy that you’ve got,” said a longtime Romney friend. “The campaign has utterly failed to switch from a primary mind-set to a general-election mind-set, and did not come up with a compelling, policy-backed argument for credible change.”…

Romney associates are baffled that such a successful corporate leader has created a team with so few lines of authority or accountability.

Romney has allowed seven distinct power centers to flourish inside his campaign, with the strategy pod, headed by Stevens and Schriefer, handling the most essential ingredient — the candidate’s public message and image.

Then there is the conventional staff, led by campaign manager Matt Rhoades, who functions as an air-traffic controller. For months, Republicans inside and out of the campaign have said the structure is problematic. Rhoades, for instance, is as disciplined and methodical as Stevens is improvisational and disorganized.