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Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Decency of Mitt

Why is Mitt Romney rising? Americans who watched the GOP nominee debate President Obama never met the cold, greedy, sexist, racist, carcinogenic tax cheat that Team Obama promised would appear. The calm, steady, and reasonable gentleman who opposed Obama was no Gordon Gekko.

Americans might like Romney even more if they understood his random acts of kindness and significant feats of bravery. As Mara Gay, Dan Hirschhorn, and M. L. Nestel wrote for “A man weighed down by the image of a heartless corporate raider who can’t relate to people actually has a history of doing remarkably kind things for those in need.”

• After Joey O’Donnell, 12, died of cystic fibrosis in 1986, Romney built a playground in his honor. “There he was, with a hammer in his belt, the Mitt nobody sees,” the boy’s father and Romney’s neighbor, Joseph O’Donnell, told Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, authors of The Real Romney. A year later, Joey’s Park needed maintenance. “The next thing I know, my wife calls me up and says, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but Mitt Romney is down with a bunch of Boy Scouts and they’re working on the park.’ . . . He did it for like the next five years, without ever calling to say, ‘We’re doing this,’ without a reporter in tow, not looking for any credit.”

• On a chilly December night in the 1980s, a Mormon bishop told Romney about a parishioner’s daughter. This single mom, a non-church member, was shivering after her heating oil had been shut off. Romney and his sons stuffed their Gran Torino with firewood, drove from Boston’s affluent Belmont suburb to the modest Dorchester district, unloaded the logs, and built a fire for the relieved family.

• Ellen Hummel’s father worked with Romney at Bain Capital, but died when she was just 5. She later asked Romney to help her attend Columbia Medical School. He loaned her tuition money. Just before graduation, Hummel received a Christmas letter from Romney. “It was something caring,” Dr. Hummel, now a Michigan general practitioner, told “It was something saying, ‘This is a gift.’” Romney forgave Dr. Hummel’s loan.


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