David’s parents, Ted, a retired firefighter, and Pat, spoke emotionally at the Republican National Convention in August about how Romney tended to their son when he contracted leukemia at age 14, and how he later delivered his eulogy. “David’s story is part of Mitt’s story,” Ted Oparowski said.
On Friday night in St. Petersburg, Romney talked about David for the first time.
“It was clear he was not going to make it,” Romney said. “I went into his room one night when he was in bed, and he asked me a very difficult question. He said, ‘Mitt, what’s next?’ He called me ‘Brother Romney.’ ‘What’s next?’ And I talked to him about what I believe is next.”
A few days later, when David was in the hospital, he called Romney.
“I was at work and he said, ‘Can you come by?’ And he said, ‘You went to law school, right?’ ”
Romney told him that he had. “He said, ‘Could you come by and write my will for me?’ ” Romney recalled. “So I went to David’s bedside and got a piece of legal paper, made it look very official. And then David proceeded to tell me what he wanted to give his friends. Talked about his fishing rod, and who would get that. He talked about his skateboard, who’d get that. And his rifle — that went to his brother.”
“I’ve seen the character of a young man like David,” Romney continued. “He had his eyes wide open. There’s a saying: Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose. David couldn’t lose. I loved that young man.”
It just so happens that a banner with the same adage hung over Romney’s holding room backstage at Wednesday night’s debate in Denver. As he walked out to debate the president, Romney looked up and read, “Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose!”