Matt Romney: Dad’s Modesty Masks True Character

Tuesday, 28 Aug 2012 02:19 PM

By Ronald Kessler

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Ronald Kessler reporting from Tampa, Fla. — Ever since I first interviewed Mitt Romney in 2007, I have been amazed at his one-dimensional portrayal in the press. Few people in public life have contributed as much as he and Ann Romney have to helping others, yet the media rarely tell those stories.

Now the GOP convention is planning to relate some of those stories to spotlight Romney’s human side, raising the question: Why has it taken so long?

The answer is that the press has not been interested in running positive stories that portray Romney’s human kindness and that Romney himself has refused to turn those acts of kindness into political talking points.

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“My dad obviously is running for president, and he has to go out and tout his credentials and talk about his ideas and record, but when it comes to personal stories, especially the ones where he rescued someone or helped people, it feels like he is bragging, and he is a little reluctant to tell them,” Romney’s son Matt Romney tells me at a party at the convention site.

“So when my brothers or I go out, we try to share those stories. But he doesn’t want to brag and toot his own horn,” Matt Romney says. “When you help somebody, it’s not to get a pat on the back. It’s to help somebody.”

No story demonstrates what Romney is like better than the actions he took in July 1996 when the 14-year-old daughter of Robert Gay, a partner in Bain Capital, disappeared. As it turned out, she had attended a rave party in New York City and had become high on ecstasy.

Most bosses would have said, “That’s terrible. Let me know if I can do anything.”

Instead, Romney closed down the entire firm and asked all 30 partners and employees to fly to New York to try to find Gay’s daughter. Romney set up a command center at the LaGuardia Marriott. He hired a private detective firm to assist with the search. He established a toll-free number for tips, coordinating the effort with New York City police.

Romney enlisted employees of Bain Capital’s accounting firm and its law firm in New York to put up posters with a photo of the missing teenager. Cashiers at Duane Reade Pharmacies, then owned by Bain Capital, stashed fliers with her photo in every shopper’s bag.

Romney and others from Bain Capital trudged through Manhattan, even scouring Central Park, and talked with everyone they could — prostitutes, drug addicts — to try to develop leads.

The hunt made the evening news, which ran photos of the girl and video of investment banker types prowling through Central Park in three-piece suits. The next day, a teenage boy she was with phoned in and asked if there was a reward. The boy got nervous and quickly hung up, but police traced the call to a home in Montville Township, N.J.

When they found her in the basement of that home, Gay’s daughter was shivering through detox after a massive dose of ecstasy. His daughter probably would not have lasted another day, doctors told him.

When I first asked Romney about the incident, he was reluctant to talk about it, and I had to develop the story from other sources. But that did not prelude the press from picking it up. With few exceptions, the media have ignored the story.

Similarly, the press has not been interested in reporting that in April 1996, two sons of Mark and Sheryl Nixon broke their necks in a car accident on their way home from a Mormon youth activity near their home in Northampton, Mass. Both Rob and Reed Nixon were quadriplegics.

After hospitalization and rehabilitation, the boys were home with their parents on the morning before Christmas when Mitt and Ann Romney showed up with their sons. The Romneys did not know them personally but had heard about the accident and the need to remodel their home to make it more accessible for the two sons.

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The Romneys brought a stereo for Rob and a check for Reed. Mitt told Mark Nixon he would pay for his sons’ college educations if necessary, and he continued to give the family support financially. Since both sons graduated from college with scholarships, the additional money was not needed.

“What is more important to me than the dollar amount is that Mitt could have sent the checks in the mail instead of taking time out and coming over to see us,” Mark Nixon says. “I’m much more impressed with the family values he demonstrated and what it says about who Mitt is.”

That says it all.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is the New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. Read more reports from Ronald Kessler — Click Here Now.

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