DAYTON, Ohio – Mitt Romney is striving to show voters that he is more than the Mitt Romney they think they know. He wants to demonstrate that he’s human, too.
So when an Ohio voter at a town hall meeting here Saturday asked about his retirement pension, the Republican presidential candidate used the word “human” three times in the first minute of his answer. As in, “this is a human life,” and “we’re human beings.” The goal: to show that his business skills and step-by-step plans can help people in their real lives.
Then, a few minutes later, Romney seized a second opportunity to press his point. A man asked Romney to tell the story of when he ran Bain Capital and shut down the firm to mobilize the company to help rescue a partner’s missing 15-year-old daughter. Until she was found, Romney thought not of profits but of the missing girl.
As Romney told it, one of his partners, Bob Gay, came to him one day and said that his daughter had gone to a party in New York City, “without permission,” and had not returned home to Connecticut.
Immediately, Romney shut down Bain’s Boston headquarters and flew with his staff to New York to help find the teenager.
Romney said he set up a command center at a hotel and had clerks at Duane Reade stores stuff flyers featuring a photo of the girl into shopping bags. (Bain was an investor in the drugstore chain.) Then he and his team recruited Bain’s lawyers and accountants to help in the search.
“So there we were, a bunch of folks in suits walking around in the park of New York and in the streets and showing pictures and saying, when we saw teenagers, ‘Have you seen this girl?’” Romney recalled.
“There were all these guys walking around asking kids if they’d seen a picture of this young lady, guys in suits and briefcases, and it made some big item in the news, and we got a call into our hotline,” he said.
Someone called asking for a reward, Romney said, but he hung up after he was put on hold. “We were able to trace that call, go to that home – it was in New Jersey – and we found her in the basement of that home,” Romney said.
This was perhaps the first time Romney has told this anecdote on the campaign trail this year, but he shared the story during his 2008 presidential campaign. It was a subject of one of his television advertisements – and the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future aired a similar ad this year. It’s aimed at helping the candidate show his humanity before some voters who may otherwise see him as a heartless stiff.
The retelling of how Romney dropped nearly everything to find a partner’s daughter comes as his campaign is taking new steps to show him in a softer light.
As Romney was addressing a large, enthusiastic crowd in Dayton on Saturday afternoon, his campaign released a new Web video documentary. Titled, “A Love Story,” it features Romney’s wife, Ann, offering personal testimonials about Mitt as a family man.
“Mitt would walk in the door after work, leave the briefcase at the door,” Ann Romney says in the video. “That was it. Never thought about work again until he left in the morning. And we would just play, and enjoy each other, and enjoy the children.”