Olympics

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    Charley Manning   Adviser, 1994 Senate race

    Charley Manning is a Boston-based GOP adviser who served as chief strategist for Mitt Romney in his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producers Michael Kirk and Gabrielle Tenenbaum on June 26, 2012.

    Suddenly the Olympics is faltering. There's lots of reports of corruption and bribery against the Olympic Committee, and all kinds of other stuff. And lo and behold, Mitt Romney -- did he give you a call and say, "What do you think?"

    I stayed in touch with Mitt all during those years between the Kennedy race and would see Mitt and Ann and go by, and did some stuff with Bain Capital during those times, and always stayed in touch. And Mitt called. It was early February of 1999. And he said: "Hey, come on by. I want to talk to you about something." So I ran by Bain Capital, and I walked in. He said, "What do you know about the Olympics?" And I said: "Thrill of victory, agony of defeat. Watch them. We love the Olympics. Don't know all that much."

    And he said, "Have you been following what's been going on out in Salt Lake?" And I said, "Yeah, all the scandals." And I said: "I think people have always paid to have the Olympics. I'm not surprised that they were bribing international Olympic people and everything." And then more bad stuff had been happening, and Mitt sort of filled me in on it.

    And he said that some folks out in Utah had asked him to come out and think about taking over as executive director of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee. And he said, "You want to come?" So we flew out the next day, and it was --

    What are you thinking at that moment? When he says that to you, what do you think? What's the first thing that crosses your mind?

    Let's go take a look at it. Let's go figure out what's going on. I didn't know if they wanted him in an advisory role, just to come out, because nobody's better at fixing stuff than Mitt Romney. Maybe just go out for a while. Maybe do the whole Olympics. We didn't really know at that time.

    But it's not your automatic response to say, "Are you kidding me?"

    No, because anything with Mitt is not "Are you kidding me?" I would go by and see him at Bain Capital, and he said: "All right, I've got to head out now. Walk out with me." And I'd say, "Where are you going?" And he goes, he'd go: "Oh, I'm going over to Cambodia. There's this shrimp business." And he's got a bag about like my briefcase, and he's jumping on a plane to go fly somewhere and go look at -- that's what he does. ...

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    Charley Manning   Adviser, 1994 Senate race

    Charley Manning is a Boston-based GOP adviser who served as chief strategist for Mitt Romney in his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producers Michael Kirk and Gabrielle Tenenbaum on June 26, 2012.

    So we get out there, and we run up to meet with the governor, who's Gov. [Mike] Leavitt at that time, and he lays out everything that's been going on and all the problems that are there. And he said: "And also, I think the financial situation is much worse than we've been led to believe. This obviously hasn't helped sponsorships. I think they're over budget on a lot of the venue projects. There's just a lot of problems here. So we've got to sort of figure it out." ...

    So Mitt said he was going to sit down and start looking at some of the numbers and trying to figure out what was going on with it on that side. And I went out and met -- you know how back in those days the media, especially the newspapers, had Olympic writers, sportswriters who basically covered the Olympics? And we had a great one here in Boston for the Boston Globe named John Powers. So they were having this climactic meeting in about 48 hours of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee, and John was out there to cover it.

    So I found him, and he filled us in on everything he had been hearing, and who the power players were, and what we needed to know and everything. And then I started running around meeting with some of the members of the local press, especially guys that had been breaking the stories. And they gave us some tips on what they had been hearing and what was going on. ...

    And he said: "What do you think? Do you think we ought to do this?" And we had been laying out just horror story after horror story. Did they build the speed skating rink six meters too short? Would that mean any event would be -- you couldn't get a world record. Just more and more of the bad stuff we were hearing. And we were looking at all the stuff and everything, and I said: "What do you say we get back on the plane and go back to Boston? Mitt, even you can't fix this. This is too much. Even you can't fix this."

    And he was just laughing and saying: "Well, maybe. Maybe we ought to give it a try." So he was talking to Ann, and Ann said she was going to fly out. And then so that was, like, I don't know, Tuesday or Wednesday, and the big meeting was going to be Thursday.

    So we were figuring out what needed to be done and what needed to be said. And one of the local reporters said that one thing they were centering in on is that there were members of the committee who were prominent Utah businesspeople, but also maybe had a conflict because, for instance, one guy owned a venue, a resort where they were going to have some of the skiing events. So there were different things like that that the local press thought this would be the next shoe to drop. ...

    So Mitt said to Gov. Leavitt: "I can't do this if this appears this way. We've got to have a fresh start. We've got to do it from the start, that we can regain the people, especially out here, and then the whole world's trust in the Olympics if we're going to be able to turn this around."

    So they sort of went back and forth on it. "Well, you know, Joe wasn't trying to -- he's been on the committee for all these years, and he --" But they finally decided that some really good people had to leave the committee. And that was tough. These were very prominent people in Utah.

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    Fraser Bullock   Former COO, Salt Lake Olympics

    (Text only) A former Bain Capital partner, he was living in Utah when Mitt Romney took the helm of the scandal-plagued Olympics. Romney convinced Bullock to join him as COO and together they saw the games out of a $400 million hole. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 19, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    Tell me about the call that you receive from Mitt Romney asking you to join him.

    In early 1999, I was living in Utah, and I, just like everybody in Utah, learned about the scandal of the Olympics. The bribery scandal was so dark and ugly and unfortunate, and it kind of cast a negative tone on everybody in Utah. But then when I heard that they had hired Mitt Romney, I said, yes, now we have a guy who can turn this around and fix it. So I sent him a little email congratulating him. Didn't hear from him, didn't expect to.

    Well, about a month later, I get this phone call, and it's Mitt on the other line, and he's just, "How are you doing?" And then he said: "Well, I'm looking for a chief operating officer. Do you know of anyone?" And I knew exactly what his agenda was, and I said, "Well, you're looking for somebody semi-suicidal," because the situation was so dire, so difficult, that anybody that wanted to do that would face insurmountable challenges.

    So I said, "No, I don't know of anybody, but I'll think about it and get back to you." And then he said, "Well, what about you?" And I said: "Absolutely not. I'm not interested. I'm really happy in my job." And he said: "Well, why don't you come up and visit with me? It's been a while since I've seen you. Why don't you come and see what's going on?"

    And Mitt can be very persuasive. So I went and visited Mitt, and his message was, it's time to be of service, to give back to your community, to give back to your country, and that's what he was doing. So I followed his lead. I followed his example and signed up, and it was a fabulous experience. ...

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    Related topics:
    Romney as a Leader

    Fraser Bullock   Former COO, Salt Lake Olympics

    (Text only) A former Bain Capital partner, he was living in Utah when Mitt Romney took the helm of the scandal-plagued Olympics. Romney convinced Bullock to join him as COO and together they saw the games out of a $400 million hole. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 19, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    Talk to me about his leadership style, not only at the corporate level but sort of on the ground, and what he brought from his business background, his Bain experience, to that.

    Mitt brought several things to the Olympic Games in terms of leadership skills. One of the first ones was to be able to put together a strategy -- look at the situation; analyze it; where do we have strengths, where do have weaknesses; how do we put those together in a clear, concise strategy of what we're going to do -- and then communicate that to everybody -- to the community, to our sponsors, to the Olympic family, to our employees -- and then put together a plan to execute that vision. And then his other capability adding to that is bringing together a great team of people. ...

    Second, he has the capability of reaching out to different constituent groups around the world. With the Olympics we had people from 83 countries. We had sponsors, we had various people from the Olympic family, we had security agencies, and Mitt had to build relationships with all of those different groups and to be able to address their concerns in a way that made sense for us and for them. So his ability to build bridges, to be able to work with people, was extraordinary.

    And then third, he has deep analytical capability. He loves numbers. One of my roles was chief financial officer, and I would walk in with all kinds of numbers and spreadsheets, and he would be able to take all of that pile of things and look through it very quickly and say: "Here are the three numbers that matter. Let's talk about these; let's focus on these." And he was always right. ...

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    Fraser Bullock   Former COO, Salt Lake Olympics

    (Text only) A former Bain Capital partner, he was living in Utah when Mitt Romney took the helm of the scandal-plagued Olympics. Romney convinced Bullock to join him as COO and together they saw the games out of a $400 million hole. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 19, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    ... As we speak to people here, they describe a very laid-back and accessible and on-the-ground guy during that period of time; that he was kind of everywhere and he was really interacting with people, and everyone felt like they could turn to him. Was that a conscious decision? ...

    When Mitt arrived at the Olympics, it was a very buttoned-up, formal organization, and there were tensions obviously, from the scandal and things like that. Mitt arrived and said: "I just want people to relax a little bit. There is too much tension here." So he changed from business dress to business casual. It sent a message.

    He made himself very accessible to the employees where they didn't have to feel like they were approaching somebody formally, where he would walk the halls and be with people and talk to them. People want to talk to their CEO and have that access. And so he always did that. He has so much energy, it's just unbelievable. I couldn't keep up to him. But he is always out there interacting with people, cracking jokes, smiling and just very accessible.

    People had the feeling that Mitt was their guy. He was not this leader out there somewhere. He was there with them in the trenches working with them, and everybody just loved working with Mitt.

    He talks about starting each meeting with a joke. ... Tell me about his joke telling. Is there one that sort of sticks out in your memory?

    Mitt, he really did try to lighten up every meeting. So there was a rule we had where we had to start the meeting with a joke, and very few people had jokes. So Mitt would reach into his bag of tricks and come up with all of these jokes. And I'm not sure how many of them were actually good -- that's why I can't remember any -- but it did lighten up the meeting.

    But the other thing is he's got a very quick wit, where you're talking about something, a very serious problem, and all of a sudden Mitt just pulls one out of his hat and says something that just gets everybody rolling in laughter. And it was just a fun organization to be part of because of that.

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    Fraser Bullock   Former COO, Salt Lake Olympics

    (Text only) A former Bain Capital partner, he was living in Utah when Mitt Romney took the helm of the scandal-plagued Olympics. Romney convinced Bullock to join him as COO and together they saw the games out of a $400 million hole. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 19, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    Despite his personal wealth and success, he was quite thrifty. Talk to me about the way that that translated and some of the rules that were imposed.

    I never saw the true nature of Mitt's thriftiness until we were at the Olympics. When we got there, there was a $400 million budget deficit, so something had to change, and he sent a message very quickly. His first board meeting where he was in charge of the board meeting, everything changed.

    Previous to that, we would have an elaborate lunch with flowers and all catered and everything, because we had our board meetings at lunchtime. The first one that Mitt is in charge of, it's Domino's Pizza, and it's a dollar a slice, because he knew he could buy a pizza for $5, cut it into eight pieces and make $8. So he would turn what was a cost center into a profit center. That sent a message to everybody in the organization that we watch every single penny. And it wasn't just in that instance. It was everything he did he communicated that these are precious resources that we have to be very, very careful with, and he's incredibly frugal. ...

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    Fraser Bullock   Former COO, Salt Lake Olympics

    (Text only) A former Bain Capital partner, he was living in Utah when Mitt Romney took the helm of the scandal-plagued Olympics. Romney convinced Bullock to join him as COO and together they saw the games out of a $400 million hole. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 19, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    ... He came out early and said, "These are not the Mormon Games." Talk to me about the reason behind him saying that and the significance of that message.

    One of the things that Mitt did very well throughout his Olympic experience was making sure that everybody in the community was involved. And there were some in the community that said, "Well, are these going to be the Mormon Games, because Mitt is Mormon?" And Mitt went out of his way to make sure that everybody knew that that was not true, because there sensitivities in this particular community around that issue.

    One of the things he did was he established an interfaith council, people from all faiths coming together to advise us in the Olympics of how should we look at faith as a part of what we're doing to impact the community through the Olympics, and that institution continues today.

    So Mitt went out of his way to reach out to everybody. Whether it's Native Americans, whether it was the constituent group of the homeless people, he tried to make sure that everybody felt they had input into what we were doing and making sure there was a balance between all of these constituent groups, including the Mormon Church and people of other faiths.

    He talks in his book about it being one of the first times in his life that he was confronted with prejudice toward his religion. Did he talk to you about that? Because he writes about it and how surprising that was to him and what it forced him to recognize.

    Outside of Utah, the issue of Mormon versus non-Mormon is not much of an issue out there. People just go about their work. I've lived outside of Utah most of my life. But here it's a little sensitive, because people know that there is a large LDS [Latter-Day Saints] or Mormon population, and they want to make sure that there is not too much control. And so the LDS Church goes out of its way to make sure it's balanced.

    So Mitt walked into that situation really unaware or not fully having the history of that context. So he was surprised and said: "What's the issue here? We're going to listen to everybody. The LDS Church isn't going to run the Games. They're going to help us, but everybody else is going to help us, too." So for him it was a little bit of an introduction into that situation, and he then went out of his way to dispel it.

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    Fraser Bullock   Former COO, Salt Lake Olympics

    (Text only) A former Bain Capital partner, he was living in Utah when Mitt Romney took the helm of the scandal-plagued Olympics. Romney convinced Bullock to join him as COO and together they saw the games out of a $400 million hole. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 19, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    ... Talk to me about what was going on in his personal life and about Ann's diagnosis.

    When Mitt joined the Olympics, I can only guess at the pressure that was on him, because here he had built this firm, Bain Capital, and in a period of just a few weeks he's now going to exit that firm. Now he's taking on this massive situation at the Olympics, which is in a very troubled situation. And then just recently before that his wife, Ann, was diagnosed with MS [multiple sclerosis], and it weighed very heavily on his mind.

    He did not talk about it publicly at all, just a little bit so that people would understand the context of what he was going through. But privately he talked about Ann all of the time. His heart went out to her. He just -- "How are we going to [work through] this? How are we going to struggle through this? We've just left our home, come all the way across the country; we're alone, we're here; and I'm working this hard job; and I've got Ann back at home who is ill."

    She was on his mind all of the time. He didn't show it, but his deep caring for her always came through when I was talking him. And I'd say, "How is Ann doing?" "Well, not so well." "How are you handling that?" "Well, we're working through it." But you could see the personal side of Mitt and how much he deeply cared for Ann.

    Talk to me about that relationship. ...

    With Mitt and Ann, it's really just an amazing companionship. Ann is incredibly bright. She's very wise, and she and Mitt engage in very deep dialogues and conversation all of the time. So it's a really interesting situation to watch. And then they always want to be together. They just have this deep affection for each other, an emotional connection, a loving connection, an intellectual, a spiritual connection. It's really, really unique.

    But then they made the Olympic connection, where both of them really didn't have a connection to the Olympics. But through the experience, through going through a very difficult situation and having really a tremendous success at the end of that effort where they went through that together, the Olympics now are one of their favorite things in their lives that they like to do. ...

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    Ann Romney   Mitt Romney's wife.

    Born Ann Davies, she met Mitt Romney in high school and the couple married in 1969, three months after Mitt returned from being a missionary in France. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Sept. 11, 2012.

    OK, during that period of time, with all you were going through, you encouraged him to take that job anyhow. Tell me why.

    I look back on that, I'm going, "What was I thinking?" I mean, really? That was crazy. I was so sick. My youngest son was a senior in high school. Mitt was doing fabulously well with his business. What was I thinking, to just pick up and just go? But there are some times when you just know that you're supposed to do something, or you just feel it in your heart. And you just know it's the right thing to do. And I just felt like that. I just felt like it was just the right thing to do.

    I had no idea whether it would be successful or not. I had no friends. We didn't have family out there. I didn't have friends out there. I didn't have doctors out there. It was a scary, scary move for me, in particular because I was leaving behind so many security things. But I just felt like it was the right thing to do.

    It ended up being the best experience of our lifetime, the best. I got better. We had a wonderful time. Mitt took no pay when he did that. He left his business. He took no pay. It was a time where you really felt like you were giving back, and the rewards that come from that are just so enormous.

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    Fraser Bullock   Former COO, Salt Lake Olympics

    (Text only) A former Bain Capital partner, he was living in Utah when Mitt Romney took the helm of the scandal-plagued Olympics. Romney convinced Bullock to join him as COO and together they saw the games out of a $400 million hole. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 19, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    ... We've talked about Ann's illness. She runs the torch ultimately, at the end. And so in the context of that time, tell me about watching that moment and what that meant to them.

    One of the things that Mitt as a donor was able to do was designate somebody to run the torch a leg of the torch relay, and he designated his sweetheart, Ann. He didn't take that slot for himself. He gave it to his wife. And it was I believe the day before Opening Ceremonies, and so to have Ann surrounded by her family, somebody who had been afflicted with multiple sclerosis but who had improved substantially through this time of the Olympics, to be able to culminate the work of years and celebrate that moment together as a family was a very, very special time for them.

    Is that fair to say that family is sort of at the center of who he is?

    Yes, Mitt is largely defined in a big part of his life by his family. That means everything to him. And during the Olympics we would have some of his sons come by, and not all of them were married then, and who are they dating, and who might they marry. It was just a lot of fun. A lot of his persona in terms of prankster and cracking jokes had rubbed off on his kids, so they're just a blast to be around. When the Romney clan gets together, it's just a lot of entertainment and a lot of fun and just a great thing to see.

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    Fraser Bullock   Former COO, Salt Lake Olympics

    (Text only) A former Bain Capital partner, he was living in Utah when Mitt Romney took the helm of the scandal-plagued Olympics. Romney convinced Bullock to join him as COO and together they saw the games out of a $400 million hole. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 19, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    And tell me about the skeleton.

    One of the things that Mitt wanted to do was experience some of the Olympic sports to get the view of what the Olympics is like, so one of the things that he participated in or learned was the skeleton.

    The skeleton is a terrifying sport. You go down the bobsleds track on a sled head first. And typically Mitt could go up to 70 miles an hour, and this is down a track with 15 turns, 90 degrees. So you can just think, you're going 70 miles an hour, and you have a 90-degree turn.

    So Mitt learned how to do that. I was stunned, because I was too terrified to go. He went, showed his bravery, and was actually filmed doing that, the skeleton down the track on one of the morning shows. And I was just amazed that he was able to do that. ...

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    Tagg Romney   Eldest son

    Tagg Romney is the oldest of Mitt Romney's five children. Here he discusses what Mitt and Ann are like as parents, as well as lessons his father learned running the Olympics, serving as a governor, and losing his bid for the White House in 2008.This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Aug. 7, 2012.

    So, as the son, sitting there, seeing your father sitting next to President Bush, after the road to get to that moment, what was that like to see him sitting there? And what was that moment like for him?

    It was amazing. Having watched the whole Olympics unfold, when he got there they were in so much trouble. And you thought, can he do this? I mean, this is a really big problem; he's got a lot of problems he's got to solve.

    And then to be there at the opening ceremonies, the weather was perfect; there was a little bit of light snow coming down. The athletes had marched in and had this great moment with the flag. He had made a fantastic speech.

    It just made you proud to be his son, because you just look and said, he put this together. He was able to rally the troops and get everyone together and overcome the problems and put on a great games. And it was a great moment for all of us to look and say, he was able to -- it wasn't him by himself; there were lots of good people involved -- Fraser Bullock and lots of people that pulled together -- but he spearheaded and helped make it happen.

    For you and your brothers to sit there, I mean, when you see him on this national stage, was there a moment there where you're like, "Wow, maybe there's a president in the future"? Did you sort of realize how important a moment that was?

    Not really. I mean, he was Dad, so it was just -- we'd always known that Dad could do great things. We watched him growing up, and he was always -- we thought he was Superman. He was always very capable. But he was just Dad. So to watch him during the Olympics, we weren't thinking about political careers or other things like that. We just were hoping the Olympics would go well. And we were very proud to watch him do that.

    It's funny, because growing up, we all loved to play sports, the five boys. And whenever he would come out and play, especially later in life, he would play basketball and he was always the last one picked, and we'd kind of laugh about it. And then to have him now running the Olympics, it just made us all laugh that he was the one that was on the front page of the sport pages. And we were just very proud of him.

    A unique time for him to shine as an athlete.

    (Laughs.) Exactly. The only way he was ever going to do something in sports was to run the Olympics; it was not going to be as an athlete himself.

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