The Mitt Romney You Don't Know


With Rick Santorum out of the race, the GOP nomination is assured for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Many feel Romney is a ‘Ken Doll’candidate, a robotic, emotionless flip-flopper who has no consistency and no heart. But, in reality, the truth is quite different. 

Because conservatives nominated a moderate last time around and got their clocks cleaned for it, they’re understandably skittish about making the same mistake again. John McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts, wanted to shut down Guantanamo, and was very much pro-amnesty. (It’s a wonder President Obama didn’t try to hire him after the election.) While Romney was governor, he slashed spending, vetoed a bill for embryonic stem cell research, and submitted budgets each year that included tax cuts. The government only raised taxes when the state legislature (which was 85% Democratic) overrode Romney.

In 2008, Romney represented the conservative alternative. Romneycare was there for everyone to see. Romney spoke against national health care then just as he has now, and as he did in 1994 when debating Ted Kennedy.

Santorum and Gingrich capitalized on conservatives’ paranoia, by effectively casting Romney as a flip-flopper. But, those who bought into this rhetoric conveniently forgot that Santorum was once pro-choice, that Gingrich faced a conservative revolt in the House, and that their hero Ronald Reagan was once a New Deal Democrat.

Like many others, Romney has become more conservative as he got older. Like Reagan, Romney’s pro-life conversion came in the middle of his governorship of a very pro-choice state. The difference being that Reagan signed the bill that made him change his mind, while Romney voted for his. The fact that all of his policy changes moved from the left or center to the right should be something for conservatives to applaud, not jeer.

There are a few other things about Romney that may surprise people:

In a 1994 interview with the Boston Globe, Ann Romney revealed that she and Mitt lived in a basement apartment for a few years without much income or even carpeting. (Romney gave away the bulk of his inheritance.) While finishing up college, they continued to get by on little income, having their first child while still in that small apartment.

Ann Romney and her five sons have all talked about the fact that for the majority of their lives, there was no regular maid service, and they never had a nanny or a cook. Mitt did hire occasional housekeepers, but for personal assistant type chores, not cleaning or laundry. He employed more after Ann Romney was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. 

In 1996, a partner at Bain Capital named Robert Gay informed Romney that his 14-year-old daughter Melissa had been missing in New York City for three days. Romney chose to close down the firm and take its 30-plus partners and employees to New York to assist in the search, on his own dime. He set up a command center at the LaGuardia Marriott, coordinated with the NYPD, set up a toll free number for tips, and contacted a private detective firm. Romney also had business contacts in NYC put up posters all over the city.

A young boy called in asking if there was a reward, hanging up shortly after. The NYPD was able to trace the call to a home in New Jersey, where they found Gay’s daughter huddled in a basement, going through withdrawal symptoms. This became the subject of a campaign ad put forth by the Romney campaign.

In 2003, then-Governor Romney was enjoying a vacation at New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee with his family. There the Morrissey’s, a family from Tewksbury, were on their vintage wooden boat about 300 yards off shore. Seeing the boat sinking from shore, Romney and two of his sons hopped on jet skis and went out to save all six people and the family dog that may have otherwise drowned. 

In 2007, California was being ravaged by wildfires. While on the campaign trail, Romney and his sons stopped abruptly and picked up chainsaws and shovels, so they could assist with removing a big tree that had suffered from fire damage. They asked that the images of them helping not be released, probably because Romney did not want it to look like a convenient stunt, although they later came out in 2008. The homeowners were immensely grateful.

Romney is known as a good businessman, the man who saved the Salt Lake City Olympics, an effective campaigner, and a vicious debater, but many people do not know about the man who sees a problem and feels a compulsory urge to solve it. Many people would not have gone to the lengths Mitt did to save Robert Gay’s daughter Melissa, who would have otherwise died from an overdose, or miss a fundraiserto help people remove a damaged tree.

Why hasn't the Romney campaign spoken more openly of these incidents? An over-inflated sense of modesty, perhaps, or a fear of being labeled a braggart? Romney knows that because of his wealth and success, anything he says could be taken as boasting.

People should know who Mitt Romney really is, and if he doesn’t want to say it then people like me will.