Published August 29, 2012
Recent campaign smears have put Mitt Romney’s character front and center, with attacks coming from the left that frame the former Massachusetts Republican governor as a felon, a murderer and a cruel businessman. These claims are baseless, and they deflect from the true character of Mitt Romney—a humble businessman with a passion to restore America’s future.
Based on a few personal contacts with Gov. Romney and careful reading of isolated articles, I feel that the story of his real persona has been left untold.
Here is what I think makes Gov. Romney tick:
1. Romney is a frugal budgeter. Romney turns off lights in unused rooms, turns off the water heater when he leaves home, and checks the prices of everything, including airfare, where he has no problem flying coach. He’s not just frugal with his own money, but he is also great at controlling and cutting budgets at the entities he runs. As governor of Massachusetts he turned a $3 billion deficit into a $1 billion surplus, and as CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics he turned a $379 million shortfall into a $56 million surplus. While many politicians promise to cut costs, Romney knows how to make cutting costs a priority.
2. Romney has a strong work ethic. Romney’s work ethic was instilled in him when he was young, when his parents would not let him play with friends until he did his chores. He worked as a security guard while in college, was dedicated to his coursework and used his knowledge to run successful companies in the private sector.
Romney’s 15-year tenure with Bain Capital allowed the company to flourish under his leadership. He rescued the 2002 Winter Olympics from financial disaster and had participants praising his accomplishments. Romney’s respect for a strong work ethic goes so far that he plans to reverse Obama’s latest welfare reform and replace it by “putting the work back in welfare.”
3. Romney is not a natural politician. Romney is ethical, honest, sincere, and data driven. Like other great business executives, he is a great listener and excels at asking revealing questions. But he is not a hail-fellow-well-met, slap-on-the-back politician like so many past presidents.
Romney’s running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, is a stronger crowd connector and has a history of polished political speeches.
At a gathering of tech professionals earlier this year, I suggested to Romney, prior to his speech, that America wants a president whom they love and who loves them back. He gave a rousing and well-received speech with an unusual ending that prompted the Washington Post headline, “Romney to business leaders ‘I love you.’”
4. Romney has a big heart. As a 21-year-old missionary in France, Romney was driving a car which, through no fault of his own, was hit head-on by another driver. Romney was thrown out of the car and left for dead. The wife of the mission president died, but Romney recovered without surgery and ignored pleas to return to the United States. Instead, Romney took over the mission, bolstered morale and blew through the church's recruiting targets.
Years later, when a Bain colleague’s 14-year-old daughter went missing, Romney shut down the entire Boston office and moved dozens of people to New York City to look for her. After much legwork the girl was rescued, saving her life.
Another example of Romney’s good intentions is when a local family suffered a tragic car crash paralyzing two teenage boys. Romney visited the family, gave a check to help with finances and helped to start the boys’ education fund.
Romney has shown his altruism on multiple occasions by counseling people and giving large sums to charity. He even counseled me in late 2010 shortly before my first book was published and gave great tips on how to make it succeed.
5. Romney is a patriot. Romney loves America. He witnessed how his grandparents came from little, how his father headed a major company and governed a state, and how he was able to succeed with little help from his parents other than a great education and strict parenting. He believes the nation is heading in the wrong direction, and instead offers a path based on his love for America, his strong work ethic and his belief that our nation remains the land of opportunity.
Putting all five points together, I see a man who should be president. He is not in it for ego. He believes he can make us better. He has the background, skills and the leadership necessary to make America the nation it is meant to be. If a headhunter were selecting our next president of the nation, Romney would top the list.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times bestselling book,” The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream.“Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro