In a Kindness Competition, Romney Wins over Obama by a Landslide
The highlights of the last day of the convention, for me, were the ordinary people who spoke of the impact of Mitt Romney in their lives. I wish these speeches had been prime-time, and that every wavering voter could see them. This is what kindness looks like. This is the supposedly uncaring, greedy, rich bastard in action.
Grant Bennett, a fellow volunteer pastor at the Romney's Massachusetts church, explained that while building his business and earning his millions and raising five boys, Romney volunteered two evenings a week and every weekend -- ten, fifteen, twenty hours a week -- in acts of personal service and pastoral counseling.
He met with those seeking help with the burdens of real life...unemployment, sickness, financial distress, loneliness...single mothers raising children, couples with marital problems, youths with addictions, immigrants...individuals whose heat had been shut off.
Typical of Mitt Romney, he let others give the sermons. He did the work. He did not delegate kindness: Mitt shoveled snow for the elderly, brought meals to the sick. He led by example. "Mitt's response to all who came was compassion in all its beautiful varieties. He had a listening ear and a helping hand."
"I treasure every minute we served together," sums up Bennett.
I can hear Democrats scoffing. Bennett obviously loves Romney as his mentor and friend. That is just the point. Bennett worked with Romney for "thousands of hours over many years" and took over the job when Romney left. Romney earned Bennett's love and respect and loyalty by his empathic, compassionate love of and service for his fellows.
Then we heard from Pat and Ted Oparowski. "Evening ,folks. My wife and I are people of modest means. I made my living as a professional firefighter for 27 years." There followed rip-your-heart-out testimony about the many tender kindnesses of Mitt Romney to their 14-year-old son, David, dying of cancer, thirty years ago. The cameras panned over an entire convention hall in tears.
I felt keenly that these bereaved parents were on stage because they want the country to benefit from the blessings a deeply good and kind President Romney will bring to us all. Love of family, gratitude to Mitt, and love of country brought them to that stage.
"The memories are still painful, but we wanted to share them with you, because David's story is part of Mitt's story, and America deserves to hear it. ...the true measure of a man is revealed in the ...quiet hospital room of a dying boy, with no cameras and no reporters. This is the time to make that assessment."
Romney arranged a fireworks party on the beach to bring David a time of joy; he gave him solace and respect by helping David write a will, to leave his prized possessions to his best friend and brother. "How many men do you know who take time out of their busy life to visit a terminally ill fourteen-year-old?" asked Pat, the boy's mother. "We will ever be grateful to Mitt for his love and concern."
Next, we hear from another congregant who became a personal friend of the Romneys, Pam Finlayson. She started with a simple but telling anecdote. Mitt Romney, captain of industry, folding laundry in a spontaneous act of helpfulness. If only people would hear Pam talk, Democrat caricatures of Romney as a cold-hearted man, out of touch with ordinary people, would be seen as the shameful lies they are.
I knew Mitt was special from the start. We didn't own a dryer, and the day he stopped by to welcome us, I was embarrassed to have laundry hanging all over the house. Mitt wasn't fazed. In fact, as we spoke, without a word, he joined me and started helpfully plucking clothes from round the room and folding them. By the time Mitt left, not only did I feel welcome, my laundry was done!
Pam and her husband had a very ill premature baby.
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....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...
When Thanksgiving rolled around, Kate was still struggling for life. Brain surgery was scheduled, and the holiday was the furthest thing from our minds. I opened my door to find Mitt and his boys, arms loaded with a Thanksgiving feast. Of course we were overcome. When I called to thank Ann, she sweetly confessed it had been Mitt's idea, that most of the cooking and chopping had been done by him. She and the boys had just happily pitched in.
It seems to me when it comes to loving our neighbor, we can talk about it, or we can live it. The Romney's live it every single day.
... It is with great excitement and a renewed hope, to know that our country will be blessed as it is led by a man who is not only so accomplished and capable, but who has devoted his entire life quietly serving others. That man is Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney is known in his personal circles for his lifelong acts of reaching out a helping hand -- ordinary, human to human, personal acts of kindness that are all about empathy and fellow feeling.
Everyone who knows Romney in the church community seems to have a story about him and his family pitching in to help in ways big and small. They took chicken and asparagus soup to sick parishioners. They invited unsettled Mormon transplants in their home for lasagna.
One Saturday, Grant Bennett got up on a ladder outside his two-story [house] intent on dislodging a hornets' nest. . . .The hornets went right at him, and he fell off the ladder, breaking his foot. . . .About nine thirty that Sunday night, Romney reappeared. Only this time, it was dark out. Romney was in jeans and a polo shirt instead of his suit, and he was carrying a bucket, a piece of hose, and a couple of screwdrivers. "He said, 'I noticed you hadn't gotten rid of the hornets," Bennett recalled. "I said, 'Mitt you don't need to do that.' He said, I'm here, and I'm going to do it. . .You demonstrated that doing it on a ladder is not a good idea.'" Romney went at it from inside the house, opening a window enough to dislodge it. Soon the hornets were gone.
When a neighbor's 12-year-old son died, Romney organized the effort to build a playground in his name and then led the cleanup crew to maintain it. When a neighbor's house caught on fire, he organized neighbors to run in and save his belongings.
Two sons of Mark and Sheryl Nixon broke their necks in a car accident on their way home from a Mormon youth activity .... 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. 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. ... "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."
And then there is this extraordinary story. When a partner at work told Romney his 14-year-old daughter had snuck off to a rave party in New York, taken ecstasy, and disappeared, Romney shut down Bain and organized 200 employees to fly down to New York to find her. Thanks to Romney's signature leadership and competence, they did. But it all began with Romney's core character: his loving concern, self-confidence, and taking responsibility himself to get things done right.
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 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 man who helped save my daughter was Mitt Romney. Mitt's done a lot of things that people say are nearly impossible. But, for me, the most important thing he's ever done is to help save my daughter.
These are the sorts of good deeds Ann Romney was referring to in her convention speech, when she said her husband does not believe in boasting about how he helps people.
This is important. I want you to hear what I am going to say. Mitt does not like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point. We are no different than the millions of Americans who quietly help their neighbors, their churches and their communities. They don't do it so that others will think more of them. They do it because there is no greater joy.
Democrats want us all to know that Mitt was born rich, as if that disqualifies him from being an excellent president. Romney inherited a fortune from his father, who was an all-American rags-to-riches story, a working man who never graduated college and went on to head American Motors. But listen to this: Mitt Romney turned around and gave away every dime he inherited to charity, honoring his father's memory by funding a school of management in his honor. I've never heard of anyone who has done that -- give away his entire inheritance.
Mitt earned his own wealth, and he has always been generous with his money. Both Mitt and Ann have volunteered and given prodigiously their whole lives. Mitt and Ann gave away 13%-19% of their income the last two years. That is two to three times the norm for philanthropy.
Giving to their church heads the Romney list. The Democrats want to make tithing sound like a bad thing, something required and therefore meaningless. The Mormon church should be honored and famous for its charitable efforts. From 1985 to 2009, for example, Mormons donated over a billion dollars to humanitarian aid in 178 countries.
In addition to giving to and through the Mormon Church, the Romneys' main donations are to cure cancer, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis; to help the blind; and to help disadvantaged inner-city youths and disabled youths. They have given to libraries, to AIDS victims, to Harvard. In addition, Romney in 1997 created and led the Bain Capital Children's Charity Ltd., which spends more than $1 million annually on youths. Romney served for years on Boston's City Year, a group that works to help at-risk kids stay in school and graduate.
The Romney family commitment to help underprivileged children dates back to when Ann and her five boys saw a vehicle carrying a group of boys to a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services detention center. Ann became a remarkable volunteer.
She was a director of the inner-city group Best Friends, for teenage girls. She was a volunteer for the Ten Point Coalition for urban youths and for Families First, a parent education program. She was a volunteer instructor of middle-school girls at the multicultural Mother Caroline Academy in Boston.
She served on the board of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, again focusing her work on at-risk youth. By 1996, she was a member of the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Stand for Children.
During the 2002 Winter Olympics effort, she co-chaired the Olympic Aid charity, whichs provides athletic activities and programs for children in war-torn regions.
Charitable giving does reveal who a person is. Romney went to the NAACP to deliver this message, in a speech that received several standing ovations, but I doubt anyone there knew that the Romneys have been helping the black community for many years.
Some of you may wonder why a Republican would bother to campaign in the African American community, and to address the NAACP. Of course, one reason is that I hope to represent all Americans, of every race, creed or sexual orientation, from the poorest to the richest and everyone in between.
But there is another reason: I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African American families, you would vote for me for president. I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of color - and families of any color - more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I would not be running for president.
The opposition charges that I and people in my party are running for office to help the rich. Nonsense. The rich will do just fine whether I am elected or not. The President wants to make this a campaign about blaming the rich. I want to make this a campaign about helping the middle class.
I am running for president because I know that my policies and vision will help hundreds of millions of middle class Americans of all races, will lift people from poverty, and will help prevent people from becoming poor. My campaign is about helping the people who need help.
The Democrats are right in one thing. Mitt Romney is not an ordinary person.
Romney is an unusual man in every way -- unusually ambitious, unusually capable, unusually wealthy, unusually kind, unusually compassionate, unusually generous, unusually dedicated to serving his community and country. He is an unusually wonderful friend and neighbor.
He has earned a level of love, loyalty, respect, and admiration most of us only imagine -- has earned them by his good deeds. Not just in his church, but everywhere he has participated. He worked in business and created jobs -- not for a hundred, not for a thousand -- for over a hundred thousand other families. Then Romney moved on to public service, where he worked without pay, to save the Olympics after 9/11, and to be governor of Massachusetts.
As governor of Massachusetts, he won intense respect and loyalty from Secretary Jane Edmonds, a liberal Democrat and a black woman, whom he chose as cabinet secretary for education and workforce training. Jane Edmond's speech was another highlight at the convention:
He is the real thing. Authentic. Honest, transparent, and inclusive. ...I wanted to be around him... where my energy, skills and talents would be channeled, along with others, towards the public good. ....The governor was in office, not for himself, or to promote himself, but for the people....During the four years I served in the cabinet, I saw him up close and personal. ...He is an amazing steward and leader. ... Unselfish leadership....Motivated by doing good for others. That is how I see Governor Romney. He is authentic....He brought out the best in me, and as President, he will bring out the best in our country.
Now Mitt Romney wants to be president of the United States. We are very lucky people to get the chance to elect a man of this moral caliber.
Karin McQuillan served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, wrote mystery novels set in Kenya, was a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, and contributes regularly to American Thinker.