There were wistful notes from the Republicans who’d helped run previous campaigns, most of whom could be characterized as serious, moderate conservatives, all of whom want to see Mr. Romney win because they believe, honestly, that the president has harmed the country financially and in terms of its position in the world. They’re certain it will only get worse in the next four years, but they’re in despair at the Romney campaign. Some, unbidden, brought up the name James A. Baker III, who ran Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1984 (megalandslide—those were the days) and George H.W. Bush’s in 1988 (landslide.) …

This was a man who could run a campaign. Twice in my life I’ve seen men so respected within their organizations that people couldn’t call them by their first names. That would be Mr. Paley, the buccaneer and visionary who invented CBS, and Mr. Baker, who ran things that are by nature chaotic and messy—campaigns and White Houses—with wisdom, focus, efficiency, determination and discipline. And he did it while being attacked every day from left, right and center—and that was in the Reagan White House, never mind outside, which was a constant war zone.

Mr. Baker’s central insight: The candidate can’t run the show. He can’t be the CEO of the campaign and be the candidate. The candidate is out there every day standing for things, fighting for a hearing, trying to get the American people to listen, agree and follow. That’s where his energies go. On top of that, if he’s serious, he has to put in place a guiding philosophy that somehow everyone on the plane picks up and internalizes. The candidate cannot oversee strategy, statements, speechwriting, ads. He shouldn’t be debating what statistic to put on slide four of the Powerpoint presentation. He has to learn to trust others—many others.