Mitt Romney on Principles & Values
Former Republican Governor (MA)
This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose. My family, my friends and our supporters--many of you right here in this room--have given a great deal to get me where I have a shot at becoming President. If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country.
A: I would have favored justices like Roberts and Alito, Scalia and Thomas. I like justices that follow the Constitution, do not make law from the bench. I would have much rather had a justice of that nature.
A: No. He’s a fine man and a man I respect, and I particularly respect his service in the military and his integrity and courage for our nation. I do believe that as people over the centuries have considered who ought to lead our country, they don’t look to senators. They look to governors. And they look to governors because they have the experience of being executive leaders. They’re actually leading something. They’re making something happening. They’re running something. They’re leading an organization. Senators and congressmen are fine people, but they’re legislators. They sit in committees. They’re committee chairs. They call that leadership. In my view, the key leadership of my life was 25 years in the private sector, helping build business, turn a business around, start a business successfully, then going off to the Olympics, helping turn the Olympics around. You don’t do that as a manager; you do that as a leader.
A: I’m sure that are those who’d say, to be the commander-in-chief you have to serve in the military. I don’t believe that you have to have served in the military t be a great commander-in-chief or to be a great foreign policy expert. You’re going to see in our foreign policy and in the military, we’re going to face challenges not like the challenges of old. You’re going to have to have people of unusual capacity in bringing in the perspectives of the entire world and thinking about how you move your pieces and how you make changes that can strengthen the US’s position. My objective is to keep the US the strongest nation on earth, economically, militarily, and from the spirit of our people. I can do that by virtue of a lifetime of experience leading, making decisions. Some of our great leaders -- look at Abraham Lincoln, was not a military expert, but turned out to be one of the best in the history of this country.
A: Absolutely. Reagan would say we’re going to win in Iraq, and I’m not going to walk out of Iraq until we win in Iraq. Reagan would say lower taxes, lower spending. Reagan is pro-life. He would want to have an amendment to protect marriage. Reagan would say that Washington is broken. Like Reagan, I’d go to Washington as an outsider--not owing favors, not lobbyists on every elbow. I would be able to be the independent outsider that Reagan was, and he brought change to Washington. Reagan would say let’s drill in ANWR. Reagan would say no way we are going to have amnesty again. Reagan saw it, it didn’t work. Let’s not do it again. Reagan would say no to a 50-cent-per-gallon charge on Americans for oil that the rest of the world doesn’t have to pay. Reagan would have said absolutely no way to McCain-Feingold. I would be with Reagan. This party has a choice, what the heart and soul of this party is going to be, and it’s going to be in the house that Reagan built
I don’t think you’re going to see religion figuring into this race after people have had a chance to get to know all the candidates.
A: Well, I was paraphrasing and underlining a quote from John Adams, who said that our constitutional form of government in this nation would require morality and freedom to be able to survive. We believe, as a nation, that God gave the individual certain inalienable rights. That’s not a constitutional guarantee, that’s not a policy guarantee, it’s a guarantee from our creator.
Q: But when you say freedom requires religion, can you be a moral person and be an atheist?
A: Oh, of course.
Q: And participate in freedom?
A: Of course yes.
Q: So freedom doesn’t require religion?
A: Our constitutional form of government and this American experiment requires morality, which in turn required religion. Yet, of course, on an individual basis, you have many individuals of great morality that don’t have any particular faith.
A: Of course not. You look at individuals based upon their skills and their ability, their values, their intelligence. And there are many who are agnostic or atheist or who have very different beliefs about the nature of the divine than I do, and, and you evaluate them based on their skills. But I can tell you that I myself am a person of faith and respect the sense of the common bond of humanity that comes from that fundamental belief.
Q: But there’d be no litmus test?
A: No, no. There’s no litmus test of that nature.
ROMNEY: This is a critical time for our nation and for our party. We’re going to have to bring together the same coalition that Ronald Reagan put together; conservatives fiscally, conservatives from a military standpoint and conservatives socially. Because we’re not going to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House by acting like Hillary Clinton. Now, I’m proud of my record. Not just of the words, but of the record of the governor of Massachusetts.
THOMPSON: I was conservative as soon as I put down Conscience of a Conservative when I was in the college. In 8 years in the US Senate, I fought for tax cuts, a balanced budget, and welfare reform, all of which we achieved. All that time, I compiled a 100 percent pro-life voting record.
GOV. ROMNEY: [absent from podium]
MODERATOR: Next question.
A century later the answer is the same. An official statement on the church Web site states: “Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment.“
Romney himself has addressed the issue many times and has supported causes as a politician that he would not support in his personal view. How can you have Harry Reid on the one side and Orrin Hatch on the other without recognizing that the church doesn’t direct political views?
George Romney went on his church mission to Great Britain. When he returned to America in 1928, he moved to Washington DC and took night classes at GWU, and then worked as a lobbyist for Alcoa.
In 1940, he joined the Automobile Manufacturers Association in Detroit. He became general manager of the association in 1942. In 1954 George Romney was named president of American Motors, the first Romney-led turnaround took place.
After prayer and a 24-hour fast, he resigned from American Motors and ran for governor of Michigan in 1962. In 1964 Romney stood up to the Republican Party, demanding it take a stronger stand on civil rights. He famously walked out on Barry Goldwater’s acceptance speech at the GOP convention.
George Romney suggested that his son study law, but Mitt wanted to go to business school. In a compromise in the great political tradition, he attended Harvard, intent on earning a Juris Doctor and MBA simultaneously. Mitt Romney doesn’t recommend it. Harvard doesn’t give you a break on tuition, he ruefully acknowledges. He graduated in four years with both degrees and headed off on a brilliant career.
She claims she would have preferred a diagnosis of a terminal disease because she was so ill. The left side of her body was numb and her balance was off-kilter. Worst of all, fatigue overwhelmed her.
Ann Romney faced the disease in a proactive way. She turned to a variety of methods to rebuild her strength and get her life back. They included acupuncture and reflexology, yoga & Pilates, deep breathing exercises & steroids. These treatments all helped, but she credits her recovery largely to getting back on a horse.
Today the disease is in remission and Mrs. Romney is healthy. She pays close attention to her energy level and diet. She continues to ride horses.
Mitt Romney is Mormon. The media are quick to point that out, practically leading each story with “Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney...” Pollsters probe our psyches for attitudes toward the possibility of a Mormon president.
Are we allowed to wonder about someone’s faith? Do we really care, or is this simply a media-driven issue?
Gov. Romney takes it in stride. “I think my religion is not as well-known as the other candidates’, and people are curious.” He doesn’t hide his religion. He calls himself a man of faith and speaks often of how his faith shapes his life. When asked about the specifics of Mormon doctrine, he defers to the LDS Church. He gives a top-line view of his beliefs, stressing the commonalities of Mormonism to mainstream Christianity.
Governor Romney was speaking of his decision to take over the trouble-plagued Big Dig project in Boston. He later apologized, saying he didn’t intend his remarks as a racial epithet, but used the phrase merely to describe a sticky situation.
The governor wound up mired in goo just like B’rer Rabbit in The Tale of Uncle Remus, where the phrase originated. It’s probably not a good idea to quote Uncle Remus in the new millennium.
Do his core values line up with those of Americans of faith? He’s pro-life, a defender of traditional marriage, and believes America’s greatness rests on a three-legged foundation of strength: strong families, a strong economy, and a strong military. Mormons are fiscally and socially conservative. In the 2004 election, 95 percent of Mormon voters cast their ballots for George Bush.
Still, attacks on Romney’s faith continue. One by one the campaigns of other presidential candidates have committed “accidental” attacks on Romney’s religion.
Gov. Romney accepted the apologies, saying, “Clearly, any derogatory comments about anyone’s faith--those comments are troubling. The fact they keep on coming up is even more troubling.”
It’s not all negative, however. At an early campaign stop a man in the audience challenged Romney directly, telling him that he would surely go to hell. The crowd groaned, then booed the man. Romney responded with what has become his signature comment on religion. “I believe Americans want a person of faith to lead the country. It doesn’t matter what brand.”
Mormons have served in other capacities in the national scene. Ronald Reagan’s administration included many Mormons, including his chief strategist, Secretary of Education, and Treasurer. Today 15 Mormons serve in Congress.
Given the political prominence of Mormons, the flurry about Romney’s religion is curious. Yet it is a symptom of the times in which we live.
Then the unthinkable happened. The beautiful new church went up in flames, a target of arson. Arsonists had set several other Mormon meetinghouses ablaze during that year, but none were as badly damaged as the Belmont Chapel.
Turning to other sects in the area, Romney told them an attack on any church was an attack on all churches and asked for their support. Seven churches offered to share their buildings with the Mormons. Churches held fundraisers to help with reconstruction. Belmont offered its town hall.
Romney accepted every offer. Romney said, “Some people in Belmont thought of Latter-day Saints as bizarre, and we were not part of the church community. The fire changed that for good.”
A: No, no, no, not quite like that.
Q: Inside a kennel.
A: Yes, yes.
Q: What were you thinking?
A: This is a completely airtight kennel and mounted on the top of our car. He climbed up there regularly, enjoyed himself. It was where he was comfortable. And we had five kids inside the car. My guess is he liked it a lot better in his kennel than he would have liked it inside.
Q: Well, Massachusetts law prohibits carrying an animal on top of a car, even in a kennel, as cruel and inhuman. Do you really think you did nothing wrong?
A: I didn’t know that there was any problem with that in terms of Massachusetts law. Love my dog. We’ve had a lot of dogs over the years. Love them. Seamus, as his name is, climbed up there all by himself, enjoyed his ride, and whether you’re in the back of a pickup truck or in the rooftop carrier, it was a good ride. He was a good friend of the family.
A: Oh, I misspoke there. I didn’t mean in any way to compare service in the country with my boys in any way. Service in this country is an extraordinary sacrifice being made by individuals and their families. I’ve been calling for a surge of support, as you know, by the American citizens. There’s no comparison. I’m very pleased and proud of my boys and the help they’re doing for their dad, but it’s not service to the country. It’s service for me. And there’s just no comparison there.
A: I’ve thought a lot about this question. And I take my inspiration from my dad, from Ronald Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt, the Declaration of Independence. My view is that America is going to be strengthened by virtue of the presidency, if I’m able to have that opportunity. I would strengthen America’s military, make sure that we could be safe here at home. I want to strengthen our economy, keep our taxes down, become free of oil from foreign places, strengthen our economy so we have great jobs and a great future for our people. And finally, I want to strengthen the American family. In my view, strong families, a strong economy and a strong military--that combination of features is what makes this party so strong and accounts for our great success in the elections over the prior several decades and also is so critical to our future as a nation--a strong economy, a strong military, and strong families. And I’ll fight for those things.
A: Gosh. I love America. I’m afraid I’m going to be at a loss for words because America for me is not just our rolling mountains and hills and streams and great cities. It’s the American people. And the American people are the greatest people in the world. What makes America the greatest nation in the world is the heart of the American people: hardworking, innovative, risk-taking, God- loving, family-oriented American people. It’s that optimism we thank Ronald Reagan for. Thank you, Mrs. Reagan, for opening up this place in his memory for us. It is that optimism about this great people that makes this the greatest nation on earth.
Has said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.” Supports civil unions and stringent gun laws. After visiting Houston, he criticized the city’s aesthetics, saying, “This is what happens when you don’t have zoning.”What’s a RINO? Wikipedia.com explains:
RINO stands for Republican In Name Only, a disparaging term for a member of the Republican Party who is thought to be too fiscally or socially moderate or even liberal. It has replaced the older term Rockefeller Republican. The term is used by conservatives to delegitimize moderate Republican office holders. Those labeled RINOs counter that the conservatives who call them RINOs are too far right and too politically naive. They point out that they can and do win in moderate and liberal areas and without their votes the Republicans would lose control of Congress.
I later joked with the press that it was due to an overdeveloped community service gene. And that was not far from the truth. Ann’s arguments had resonance, but they had resonance because she knows my core beliefs and life aspirations. She knows that somewhere deep inside, I hoped to commit myself to things greater than making a living or building a fortune. It was the spirit of service in one form or another--a family poltergeist that has haunted my ancestors for generations. It was the legacy of my heritage.
Tragically, there was a fatality; one of my passengers was pronounced dead at the scene. I was also pronounced dead. One of the gendarmes found me unconscious and wrote, “il est mort” on my passport.
My parents and Ann, my then-girlfriend, learned I had expired. They did not believe it. My father called Sargent Shriver, who was then the US ambassador at the American embassy in Paris. Shriver assured them I was very much alive.
At the hospital where we were taken, the doctor’s triage led him to focus on another colleague. Broken ribs, facial lacerations, & bleeding were more threatening then my broken arm & swollen forehead.
A: You know, religions are in competitive battle. They’re competing for souls and adherents. And the good news is that Bob Jones may not agree with my faith--and obviously he does not--but he does believe that I’m the right person to be president, and that’s because he believes that person of faith should lead the nation. He backs me as a president, not as a pastor. So I’m delighted to have his support and some say when all this is over, we’ll probably talk about religion, too.
Q: Jones went on to say: “I’d be very concerned if he tried to make it appear that Mormonism is a Christian denomination of some sort. It isn’t.” He’s saying you’re not a Christian.
A: Well, people have differing views about faith. But the great thing is that our values are the same.
Given our grand tradition of religious tolerance and liberty, some wonder whether there are any questions regarding an aspiring candidate’s religion that are appropriate. I believe there are.
There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation’s founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom. In John Adams’ words: ‘We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people.’
Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.
As Governor, I tried to do the right as best I knew it, serving the law and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution--and of course, I would not do so as President. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.
There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers--I will be true to them and to my beliefs.
Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it. But I think they underestimate the American people. Americans do not respect believers of convenience. Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.
In every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims.
It is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions. And where the affairs of our nation are concerned, it’s usually a sound rule to focus on the latter--on the great moral principles that urge us all on a common course.
A: I believe the Bible is the word of God, absolutely. I might interpret the word differently than you interpret the word, but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the word of God. I don’t disagree with the Bible. I try to live by it.
A: Well, Pres. Kennedy some time ago said he was not a Catholic running for president; he was an American running for president. And I’m a proud member of my faith. I think it’s a fair question for people to ask, “What do you believe?” And I think, as you want to understand what I believe, you could recognize that the values that I have are the same values you’ll find in faiths across this country. I believe in God, believe in the Bible, believe Jesus Christ is my savior. I believe that God created man in his image. I believe that the freedoms of man derive from inalienable rights that were given to us by God. And I also believe that there are some pundits out there that are hoping that I’ll distance myself from my church so that that’ll help me politically, and that’s not going to happen.
A: I don’t say anything to Roman Catholic bishops. They can do whatever the heck they want. Roman Catholic bishops are in a private institution, a religion. And they can do whatever they want in a religion.
Q: Do you see that as interference in public life?
A: Well, I can’t imagine a government telling a church who can have Communion in their church. We have a separation of church and state. It’s served us well in this country. This is a nation, after all, that wants a leader that’s a person of faith, but we don’t choose our leader based on which church they go to. This is a nation which also unites over faith and over the right of people to worship as they choose. The people we’re fighting, they’re the ones who divide over faith and decide matters of this nature in the public forum. This is a place where we celebrate different religions and different faiths.
HUCKABEE: I never criticized Gov. Romney for that. When a person says, “My faith doesn’t affect my decision-making,” that the person is saying their faith is not significant to impact their decision process. I tell people up front, “My faith does affect my decision process.”
Q: But you answered a question on Feb. 11 about Romney in this way: “I’m troubled by a person who tells me their faith doesn’t influence their decisions.“
HUCKABEE: A person’s faith shouldn’t qualify or disqualify for public office. But we ought to be honest and open about it.
Q: Gov. Romney, do you accept that he wasn’t talking about you?
ROMNEY: Everyone who’s a person of faith has values that are deeply held. That’s what makes America such a powerful land: that comes from being a people of faith, but not people of a particular church or a particular synagogue. Rather, the great values we share are American values.
The founding prophet of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, declared his candidacy for the presidency in 1844. Mitt Romney’s father, Michigan governor George Romney, ran a full-scale campaign for the presidency in 1967-68. Three years earlier, George Romney was nominated at the 1964 convention as a “favorite son“ candidate, with his teenage son Mitt on the convention floor supporting him. Arizona Democratic Congressman Mo Udall, a Mormon, made a run in 1976. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, another Mormon, threw his hat into the ring against the Bush machine in 2000.
In only one of these races did the Mormon candidate come close to the nomination--George Romney’s 1968 run. Romney was actually the GOP frontrunner for most of 1967, and with that status, his faith became a topic for a delicate sort of scrutiny.
There are a couple of lessons in George Romney’s campaign, but none unique to it: Gaffes can kill campaigns. Allies can switch sides. Difficult wars make for difficult interviews. What George Romney’s campaign didn’t have to deal with, though, was religious bigotry. The elder Romney just didn’t last long enough to see anyone try to raise a “Mormon objection” to his qualifications.
One veteran of the George Romney effort sent Mitt Romney an analysis of why George’s campaign floundered--an assessment that included 20 reasons why he lost. “One of them was not because he was a Mormon or people didn’t understand the Mormon Church or whatever,” Romney underscored.
Article VI, Clause 3“I think it is clear that the way the field of candidates for president is shaping up, Romney is going to be the candidate whose values most closely approximate those of evangelical Christians,” said one pundit. He goes on to say that he sees bigotry in the anti-Mormon assault on Romney.
.no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification in any Office or public Trust under the United States.
But he knows the real challenges lie ahead for him, just as they do for his health plan. One special test involves the public reaction to his Mormon faith. He thinks it won’t ultimately be a barrier but says, “At some point, I know, I will have to face all the questions about its tenets, just as John Kennedy did in West Virginia and in the meeting with the Greater Houston Ministerial Association,” when his Catholicism was an issue. “But I think tolerance will prevail again.”
A: That theme is not going to stand the test of time because you can see what I did as governor. And my positions as president are identical to those as governor. They all flow from them. I found a way to work with Democrats in my legislature. I’m proud of my record, and I’m running on my record, and my views are consistent with that record. Everybody over time is going to make an experienced judgment based on what they think is right, and no candidate has been the same throughout the entire process. And if they have, I’ll show you a candidate that ought to be pushed aside, because you know what? You should learn from experience. If you want somebody who’s never learned from experience, who’s never made a mistake, I’m not your guy
ROMNEY: When I ran against Ted Kennedy in 1994, that was a big uphill climb. But let me tell you, I was fighting for issues like making sure that we would have the death penalty in our state, fighting to keep our taxes down. I was fighting against the Liberal Lion in perhaps the toughest state in America. And I’m pretty proud of what I was able to accomplish in that race, but nothing compares to the pride I have with the work that I was able to do as a governor.
McCAIN: Gov. Romney, you’ve been spending the last year trying to fool people about your record. I don’t want you to start fooling them about mine. I stand on my record as a conservative, and I don’t think you can fool the American people. They may not agree with me on a couple of issues, but they’ll know I’m telling the truth, and my steadfast positions on these issues for more than 20 years.
LOU GORDON: (on Vietnam): “Isn’t your position a bit inconsistent with what it was?”
GEORGE ROMNEY: “Well, you know when I came back from Vietnam I just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get. Not only by the generals, but also by the diplomatic corps. I no longer believe it was necessary for us to get involved in South Vietnam to stop Communist aggression.“
The comment took on a life of its own, spawning headlines like: ”Romney Asserts He Underwent ‘Brainwashing’ on Vietnam Trip.“ The public uproar was loud and quick. Romney had impugned the integrity of honorable men! He can’t recognize truth when he sees it! Romney is too gullible to be president!
Lesson #1 for son in politics: Watch what you say.
A: You let the president decide what the responsibilities of the V.P. would be in his administration.
Q: What would you decide?
A: Depends on the person, depends on the needs, depends on their capabilities. But I like a person that gives wide viewpoints on a wide array of issues. It’s been very popular lately to be critical of the president and the V.P. I know they make mistakes. But they have kept us safe these last 6 years.
ANNOUNCER: In the most liberal state in the country one Republican stood up and cut spending instead of raising taxes; he enforced immigration laws, stood up for traditional marriage and the sanctity of human life.
ROMNEY: This isn’t the time for us to shrink from conservative principles. It’s a time for us to stand in strength. Strong military, strong economy, strong families.
ANNOUNCER: In the toughest place, Mitt Romney’s done the toughest things
True, Massachusetts has Democratic Sens. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, and in 2004 it became the first state in the nation to legalize gay marriage. In the 1972 presidential election, it was the only state (plus DC) won by Democratic nominee George McGovern.
But consider Vermont, the home of Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described “independent democratic socialist,” and of Howard Dean, former governor. Social activist ice cream czars Ben & Jerry also are based there.
Then there’s Rhode Island, which cast a greater share of its votes--61%--for Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore in 2000 than any other state. And some might well grant the distinction to New Jersey, which has a higher personal income tax than Massachusetts, as well as two Democratic senators.
“My decision comes down to this: In this four-year term, we can accomplish what I set out to do,“ he said. ”A year from now, it will be time for me to pass that privilege to someone else. I will not be a candidate for re-election.“
Often describing himself as a ”red speck in a blue state,“ Romney has successfully navigated liberal waters as a traditional conservative. He has positioned himself as a reasonable and prudent politician who is open to discussions with all political persuasions, even where he is morally opposed to certain liberal causes.
No, it’s John Kerry’s record in his nearly 40 years since Vietnam that’s the question. Study that record; if you want someone who voted for tax hikes 98 times, then yes, send him. If you want cuts in intelligence funding, then yes, send him. If you think that during the great national policy debate of the 1980s Ronald Reagan was wrong and Ted Kennedy was right, then by all means send in John Kerry.
I want George W. Bush! We need unwavering leadership. America is under attack from almost every direction. We have been attacked by murderous, crazed terrorists, even in this great city. Our employers and jobs are threatened by low cost, highly skilled labor from abroad. American values are under attack from within.
We recognized that there was no way I was going to beat him. After I won the primary, and was ahead in the polls, Kennedy launched a particularly effective attack campaign, portraying me as a money-grubbing businessman. He beat me soundly.
We wanted to raise new ideas for government, and help rebuild a disappearing second party. But after it was over, we did not feel like we had accomplished what we set out to do.
A state rep endorsed me for governor. The attention stemmed from the weakness of the incumbent. She had taken over for the governor when he became Ambassador to Canada. A poll showed such poor ratings that the pollster said she was unelectable. If I did not run, he concluded, the GOP would lose the office and probably disappear as a viable party in Massachusetts: the legislature had dropped to 15% Republican. Democracy needs two parties; If not, me, who?
Source: Turnaround, by Mitt Romney, p.379-380 Aug 25, 2004
Enter Mitt Romney. Hailed as a white knight, turnaround king, and Games saver, Romney was offered the job as president of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee a little over a month after the former president stepped down. At first Romney didn’t want to take the job. He had no experience with sports management, was happily living in Massachusetts, and business was booming at Bain Capital. His deep belief in service--and some serious nudging from his wife Ann--convinced him to take the job. Relying on his lifelong credo of public service (“If not me, who?”), he headed to Utah.
The significance of Romney’s Olympic stewardship for Romney’s presidential bid is much more in the stories he tells of the Games than in the awful numbers he and his colleagues confronted and reversed. Romney has got a box of business stories, but they cannot compare with the planning for the torch relay, or the tale of tempting the Today Show with a promise of a Romney run on the skeleton sled.
[But as I spoke with Olympic champions], it began to impress on me that the Olympics are really about something greater than sport, but seen through sport and the Olympians themselves. The Olympics are a showcase of some of the great qualities of the human spirit: determination, persistence, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, faith, passion, teamwork, loyalty, honor, character. The Olympics celebrate the human spirit by revealing the athlete’s unrelenting drive to push the limits of human capacity.
The phrase we eventually gave as the vision of our Games was “Light the Fire Within.” Those words, that vision would affect everything we did at the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.
I gave very little thought at all to what I would do afterwards. Many people cannot believe that. They think that I had calculated the political benefits. I saw no political connection at all. The idea of going to Utah as a way of helping me run in Massachusetts was nuts. If I wanted to run, I would have stayed in Massachusetts. And I had no appetite for staying in Utah for a political career. There were plenty of people who had lived there all their lives, who were prepared and qualified. I was going to Utah to run the Olympics. Ann and I felt it was the right thing to do. We felt it brought greater meaning to what we had already done. I wanted to serve the community, not run for office.
When you take a job to perform a service, not to earn a paycheck or win a jackpot, you do not really care a lot about how people think of you. You have the absolute luxury to do exactly what you think is right. Ann kept reminding me that this was about serving. It was a great relief and it freed my anxious mind to really do what I thought was right.
We designed a donor package of benefits. Our bronze level cost $100,000 and entitled the donor to 4 tickets each to even of several prime events over the 17 days of the Games. Silver was $500,000 and brought 8 ticket packages & other benefits. A cool million included 12 ticketing packages.
Because no good deed goes uncriticized, the donor program attracted its fair share of naysayers. Rich people were going to get special deals. Yes, and we would get an even more special deal because these rich people would be helping us pay for Games that were in financial crisis.
Dollar by dollar, million by million, we climbed toward the $100 million dollar goal. We enlisted 105 donors. We secured the $100 million.
But, there was nothing to do but approach Utah to ask for forbearance. I knew it would not be easy. The whole point of the state payment schedule was to guarantee that Utah taxpayers would get their money out first. But if we did not keep the bank line of credit, we would not have Games and if we did not have Games, the cities and towns would get zero. Give the forbearance and the cities and towns had a shot at the whole $99 million. The legislature eventually approved the deferral.
During the parade of nations, the host country’s delegation is always last. The last 8 American athletes in line would carry the 9/11 flag. The Olympic Charter stipulated that displays of nationalistic sentiment were not permitted. Hitler’s efforts to use the Games in the 1930s to celebrate Aryan superiority had sent aftershocks that were still felt.
The IOC had decided that the WTC flag could not take a place in the ceremonies. I was sympathetic to the policy but I felt it was wrong.
We finally agree about 1 AM the next morning. The flag would be brought into the stadium just before the anthem was played and held in front of the symphony and choir. A second American flag would be raised during the anthem.
In his three years in Salt Lake, Mitt erased a $360 million operating deficit, organized 23,000 volunteers, galvanized community spirit, oversaw an unprecedented security mobilization to ensure public safety and led one of the most successful Olympics in our country’s history.
|Other candidates on Principles & Values:||Mitt Romney on other issues:|
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader