Over the last few months, it has been absolutely stunning to see Mitt Romney, of all people, portrayed as some sort of greedy, ruthless, unfeeling corporate raider who plows over everyone who gets in his way so he can make a few dollars more. Of all the criticisms you could aim at Mitt Romney, there is none that has less validity than that one. In fact, the vast majority of people who read this column -- whether they're liberal, conservative, or moderate -- probably don't personally know a single person who has proven to be more generous and compassionate than Mitt Romney. Yes, really. It's okay if you're skeptical -- but, you won't be after you finish reading this column.
1) Mitt Romney saved the life of a 14 year old girl: Imagine what it would be like if we could have this kind of decisive people-centered leadership in the White House..
In 1998 the 14-year-old daughter of one of Romney's partners at Bain Capital, Robin Gay, had disappeared after attending a rave party in New York City. The distraught father was beside himself with terror of what may have happened to his little girl.
Upon hearing of this, Romney stopped all operations at Bain and flew himself and all of the company's employees to New York to conduct the search. Using his contacts with establishments in New York that did business with Bain and an outlay of cash, Romney led a search for the girl from a command post he had set up in the LaGuardia Marriott that involved a private detective, Bain employees and customers putting up posters, handing out flyers, and interviewing prostitutes, drug addicts, and other street people in New York, and coordination with the New York Police.
A break came, after media publicity of the search, when a teenage boy called a tip line asking if there was a reward. He hung up, but not before the police traced the call to a home in New Jersey. The girl was found in the basement of the house undergoing withdrawals from a hit of ecstasy.
Romney, through his efforts, had saved the girl's life.
2) Mitt Romney gave milk to a V.A. hospital: This is the kind of thing Mitt Romney has done for people in need who cross his path.
He shared a story of a V.A. hospital in Boston that Mitt Romney stopped at while on the campaign trail running against Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy had made a thirty minute stop at the same location a couple of weeks prior.
After touring the V.A. hospital, Mitt asked to look at their books. After he spent forty minutes going through their books, he told them, “You run a very good place, very tight. Very good.” Romney asked to go on another tour of the hospital, and after spending an hour and forty minutes there, the last question he asked was, “So what… what do you -- what are you lacking? What do you need help with?”
The response? “Milk.”
Since the press was around, snapping photos and asking questions, Glenn explained that Romney did a really awkward joke where he said, “maybe we should teach everyone here how to milk a cow.”
Of course, that’s all the press cared to hear and ran with a story that claims “Mitt Romney says veterans should have to milk cows.”
“This is where it gets good,” Glenn started. “Romney calls him up the next morning.”
Romney first apologizes to the man who runs the hospital for any problems the attention from the press jumping on his words brought to the hospital. He next offers to help with the milk situation.
“Friday comes, and the milkman comes,” Glenn continues. “This is what the vets needed – they needed 7,000 pints of milk a week. Milkman shows up, 7,000 pints. The head of the V.A. hospital asks, ‘Where did all this come from?’ He [the milkman] said ‘an anonymous donor.’ Now, the guy didn’t put it together.”
Glenn explains that when the next week rolled around, the milkman shows up again, and continued to show up every week for two years. After two years of delivering 7,000 pints of milk a week to the hospital, as the milkman is retiring, the man finally gets him to reveal the anonymous donor.
It’s Mitt Romney.
“Mitt Romney was writing a personal check and didn’t want anybody to know for two years and provided the vets with all of their milk in Boston,” Glenn explained to listeners this morning.
When Romney became governor, he sent a bill through to help the V.A. hospital – it was down to the dollar.
3) Mitt Romney helped a dying 14 year old boy write his will: In a profession filled with people who steal the credit for every good thing that happens and pass the buck at every opportunity, Mitt Romney's humility -- which is a wonderful trait in a human being, but a maladaptive one in a politician -- has kept him from hammering home stories like this in every swing state.
Pat Oparowski talks about the loving friendship Mitt Romney developed with her dying son David, remembering,
"David, knowing Mitt had gone to law school at Harvard, asked Mitt if he would help him write a will. He had some prize possessions that he wanted to make sure were given to his closest friends and family. The next time Mitt went to the hospital, he was equipped with his yellow legal pad and pen. Together, they made David’s will. That is a task that no child should ever have to do. But it gave David peace of mind. So after David’s death, we were able to give his skateboard, his model rockets, and his fishing gear to his best friends. He also made it clear that his brother Peter should get his Ruger .22 rifle. How many men do you know who would take the time out of their busy lives to visit a terminally ill 14 year old and help him settle his affairs?"
David also helped us plan his funeral. He wanted to be buried in his Boy Scout uniform. He wanted Mitt to pronounce his eulogy, and Mitt was there to honor that request. We will be ever grateful to Mitt for his love and concern.”
Ted Oparowski summed it up nicely when he said,
"You cannot measure a man’s character based on the words he utters before adoring crowds during times that are happy. The true measure of a man is revealed in his actions during times of trouble — the quiet hospital room of a dying boy, with no cameras and no reporters."
4) At one point, Mitt Romney was doing 10-20 hours a week of volunteer church service: At the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney's friend and fellow church member Grant Bennett talked about the Mitt Romney he knew.
While raising his family and pursuing his career, Mitt Romney served in our church, devoting 10, 15, and even 20 hours a week doing so. ...Drawing on the skills and resources of those in our congregation, Mitt provided food and housing, rides to the doctor, and companions to sit with those who were ill. He shoveled snow and raked leaves for the elderly. He took down tables and swept floors at church dinners. He was often the last to leave. Mitt challenged each of us to find our life by losing it in service to others. He issued that challenge again and again.
What do you think the chances are that the current occupant of the White House would voluntarily shovel snow and rake leaves for the elderly without any television cameras around?
5) Pam Finlayson talks about how Mitt Romney treated her family and her extremely ill child: Pam Finlayson gave one of the finest speeches at the Republican National Convention when she talked about her family's experience with Mitt Romney.
Later, when Finlayson and her husband Grant had a baby girl born dangerously premature, the man who decades later would stand at the threshold of the presidency was a steady and supportive presence at the hospital.
“Kate was so tiny and very sick,” Finlayson recalled. “Her lungs not yet ready to breathe, her heart unstable, and after suffering a severe brain hemorrhage at three days old, she was teetering on the very edge of life.”
“As I sat with her in intensive care, consumed with a mother’s worry and fear, dear Mitt came to visit and pray with me,” she continued, as the partisan crowd listened in rapt silence. “I will never forget that when he looked down tenderly at my daughter, his eyes filled with tears, and he reached out gently and stroked her tiny back.”
“I could tell immediately that he didn’t just see a tangle of plastic and tubes; he saw our beautiful little girl, and he was clearly overcome with compassion for her.”
The little girl was slated for surgery around Thanksgiving, and Finlayson recalled Romney and his sons showing up with a Thanksgiving feast for the preoccupied parents. Finlayson said she later learned from Ann Romney that the food had been prepared by her husband.
Kate Finlayson survived, and the two families remained close, said Finlayson, who even babysat for the five “rambunctious” Romney sons before the family moved from Boston.
Last year, Kate Finlayson died at age 26 from complications she’d battled from birth, her mom said. And although Romney was in the midst of preparing his bid for the presidency, they remembered their old friends in yet another hour of anguish.
“When they heard of Kate’s passing, both Mitt and Ann paused, to personally reach out to extend us sympathy, and express their love,” Finlayson said.
“When the world looks at Mitt Romney, they see him as the founder of a successful business, the leader of the Olympics, or a governor,” she said. “When I see Mitt, I know him to be a loving father, man of faith and caring and compassionate friend."
6) Mitt Romney and his sons saved a family and their dog from drowning: Mitt Romney saw people in trouble and he didn't wait for the government to save them, he made a REAL gutsy call, and did what he had to do to save their lives.
But way back in the summer of 2003, the then-Massachusetts governor made the news for a very different reason: He helped save a Tewksbury family from drowning in New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee.
The Morrisseys of Tewksbury were motoring their vintage wooden boat through the large lake on July 4 weekend that year when, around sunset and about 300 yards from shore, the vessel began taking on water. Robert Morrissey attempted to dial 911 on his cell phone, only to lose the device in the water as the boat started sinking rapidly.
That’s when Romney, who owns a home on the shore of the lake, and two of his sons jumped on jet skis and rode out to assist the six people, along with the family dog, struggling in the water.
The Romneys took two of the passengers ashore, and others in the area helped the rest of the family—and the dog, too — make it back to land without injury.
7) Mitt Romney pays for the college education of two boys who were left as quadriplegics after a car wreck: As you read this, imagine how you'd feel about Mitt Romney if you were Mark and Sheryl Nixon. Americans would be fortunate to have someone like Mitt Romney doing his best to try to help them.
Mark and Sheryl Nixon, along with their sons Reed and Rob and their daughter Natalie, told of a car accident that left Reed and Rob quadriplegics. Although the Nixon family knew of Romney and Romney had served as their Mormon stake president, they weren't well acquainted.
Reed and Rob returned home from rehab in the late fall, near Christmas, Mark said. Around that time, Romney called and said he'd like to do something for the two boys. So Romney, his wife Ann, and three of their sons brought Christmas gifts to the family.
While Romney later offered to pay for Reed and Rob's entire college education, that Christmas Eve visit stands out in Mark's mind, he said, because instead of vacationing in Utah, New England or the Caribbean, the Romney family was visiting the needy.
"That actually, to me, has been more important to me than the financial help he gave," Mark said.
"After the initial experience of showing up, he didn't check that off his list and say, 'I did my duty,'" Natalie added. "He has, year after year, shown up at 5K races to run the event and participate."