Romney's Core Nature

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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.

    A number of people that we've spoken to -- articles have been written about it -- when you ask sort of what's at the core of your father, they talk about the importance of faith, and that really being something that is essential to who he is. So talk to me about that in terms of how that core and those values were brought into your home, and that sort of added to the way he raised you boys.

    Yeah, I mean, at the core of my dad is, he has a very strong faith. He believes very firmly in loving God. He believes very much in this country. He thinks this is a country that is meant to be at the forefront of the world and leading. The values that he wanted to pass on to us were faith, integrity, hard work, honesty, love of fellow man. Those are the things that are at the core of who he is and drive everything that he does.

    And it's clear watching him as we grew up that that really was what motivated his life. It wasn't the pursuit of money, trying to grab power, or things we saw drive a lot of other people. It really was, how can I make this a better place for people around me? And we didn't ever anticipate that it would grow into running for president. We just thought it was, he would help his neighbors and the people his life bumped up against. And so we were surprised as anybody when he started his political career.

    But at the core of who he is, he is a good man who loves his family, loves his neighbors and wants to make their lives better.

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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.

    He was running Bain, a wonderful father by all accounts. And he also, when he was bishop of the Belmont, [Mass.], ward, from what I've learned, that experience had him going out there and dealing with a group of people he wouldn't otherwise have necessarily interacted with. How did he bring those life experiences home? He talks about having that experience open his eyes to people who had much less than he ever had. So how did those teachings come home to you?

    He was so busy doing things that he made sure that he brought his sons along with him to help minister to people. I remember a time, he got a call one Friday night from somebody -- she lived on the West Coast, and she said, "My daughter is living in Dorchester, and she and her husband have a young baby, and they don't have any money, and they've run out of fuel, and they can't fill their oil tank, and they have no heat." It was just before Christmas. "And they're very cold. Is there anything you, as bishop, can do to help them?"

    He grabbed me and my brother Matt and drove down to their house to take stock of the situation. It was very cold in their house. He called the oil company and said, "Listen, I'll pay for a tank of oil," and he bought some food for them. The oil company couldn't come until Monday, and it was Friday, so we went home. We loaded up the station wagon with firewood that we had spent the summer chopping. They had a wood-burning stove there. So we brought the firewood in, got a fire going for them. We stopped on the way, at Toys ‘R’ Us and bought some Christmas presents for the little girl.

    And it's just one small example. And he spent the next six months helping them, counseling the husband on how to find a job and what to do to get his résumé so he could go out and get a job, and making sure that they had enough money that they were eating and that they had enough money to pay for their fuel bill.

    It's just one example of many. I remember another time there was someone whose son was dying of cancer. He was 14 years old, and my dad spent time with them as they went through that difficult process, both of getting ready for that and trying to help him, visiting the hospital, and then after he passed away at 14, helping to comfort the family.

    And being there with my dad at the bedside of the boy in the hospital, those were experiences that meant a lot to us. Cameras weren't rolling. There weren't -- excuse me. But it was great to see his love for others, and he did his best to pass that on to us.

    Great.

    Thank you. Sorry.

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    Dane McBride   Friend, fellow missionary

    A Virginia physician, McBride has been friends with Mitt Romney for more than 40 years. The two met in 1966 while serving as Mormon missionaries in France. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on July 13, 2012.

    There are a number of anecdotes of Mitt's helping people over time, and in a way that did not draw attention to himself when he could have.

    In 2007, there were fires in San Diego. His neighbor in the cleanup of that had a big stump to try to remove and so forth. Mitt went with his son over to help the neighbor. He was running for the Republican nomination at the time, had Secret Service assigned to him -- didn't bring the press to show what a great guy he was going over to help those in need and so forth, but he just did so, because his natural calling is a helper. And that's who he is. ...

    I think it sounds like that is his natural instinct to do those acts rather than sort of --

    It is. It's a fundamental part of who he is. And I think it really sunk in, really took root during that time in France, and then just grew from beyond it.

    Why do you say that? What do you mean by that?

    Well, I think he'd been a pretty carefree, fun-loving kid before then. But I think that once he began to feel a sense of stewardship for others, that was where it began. I don't know that he had that sense of stewardship for others as a 17- or 18-year-old, not in this way. But that's what you're all about for two and a half years was serving others there. And that allowed that which was naturally in him to then come to the fore, and he found that it was a very important part of himself.

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    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    ... There are so many stories of him helping other people. Those aren't the stories that you necessarily hear on the campaign. Why don't we hear those stories more?

    Because first of all, he can't tell the stories about how he helped everybody. So that's a little bit braggadocio. ...

    Number two, the press doesn't report everything that's said everywhere. Very little of it gets out, and I think Mitt is still being introduced to the public. I think that he really is going to be more introduced at the convention than any other single place, because that's when probably more people will watch him speak. ...

    But I don't know the religion aspect has been a significant pro or con in this election.

    I don't think it has, but I think it helps inform who he is in a very positive way.

    I've had so many people of many faiths say that they're pleased that he is a person of faith. And I think it is important to people that he is a person who, if he believes something, he is devoted to it and is a person of integrity. I think people want to have someone that's a family person devoted to integrity. That's important.

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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.

    In his core, in his heart, you know, why does he want this so badly? And what is the thing that's motivating him most? And is there, you know -- you talked about his father.

    Yeah, there's that service gene. There's that caring gene that I think if people were to know anything about Mitt, is that he cares. I think beyond anything else is that you look at how the powerful example George Romney was in his life. And what was George Romney? Mitt saw him as a servant, always. And I think that's how Mitt is, too. He's always been there. Gratefully, he's always showed my children, too. He's been a huge example in my children's life of how you serve others.

    And Mitt cares. He cares about so many people that are hurting right now in this economy. And I think if you know that about Mitt, if you know one thing about Mitt, he's a guy that cares.

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    Geoff Rehnert   Bain Capital colleague

    Geoff Rehnert is co-chief executive officer of the investment firm Audax Group. Previously, he served as managing director of Bain Capital, which he helped start with Mitt Romney in 1984. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum and Michael Kirk on June 12, 2012.

    You talk about a person who you got to know very well, and I think one of the things that has stayed with him throughout a number of the campaigns that he's run is that people sort of question who is Mitt Romney. Why do you think people have such a hard time connecting to him or he has such a hard time connecting to other people?

    That's a good question. I guess Mitt is different than most people. He lives by a set of values that a lot of people espouse but very few actually live by. Mitt is also incredibly gifted, and that's a hard thing for people to relate to. He is one of the most intelligent people I've ever met. He's one of the most energetic people I've ever met. He is one of the most charismatic people I've met.

    He's also had some good fortune. He had a terrific mother and father, family upbringing. He's had a terrific marriage, has terrific kids, successful career. It's hard for people to relate to someone who sort of seems to meet success at every turn.

    I think what people probably also have a hard time relating to is he really worked for it. I mean, the guy has earned this. This has not just been handed to him. This is a guy who works harder than anyone I know. This is not a guy who sort of kicks into cruise control, puts his feet up on the desk, sort of leans back in his chair and lets everybody do the work. This is a guy who is just going, going, going all the time, and I just don't think people are familiar with people like him.

    I had not ever met anyone like Mitt. I still haven't met anyone like Mitt. He really is an exceptional person, in my experience.

    So I think it's probably hard for people to relate to that, because unless you have met and you've gotten to know him, it's hard to know that this really is the authentic guy. And people say, "Well, jeez, that's too good to be true." Well, it's like, it's really not. It really is true. But if you don't know anybody else like that, it's hard to relate to it. ...

    Is there a core set of beliefs or values that is driving him? Is there sort of one idea, or is it more the pragmatist that believes he can make a change?

    That's a great question. I think Mitt is very pragmatic, and he's very capable at fixing things and getting things right.

    I don't believe Mitt would be running for president if he felt things were going in a great direction and there was another candidate who could do what's necessary to get the country back on track. I believe the reason he's running is he really feels like he is the right guy to get this country going in the right direction. ...

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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, Charley, what's the deal with the perception that he's so wooden and so stiff?

    I'm the last person to criticize the media, but I just think it's easy to keep repeating the same things over and over again. And obviously, it's not true in any way; that's not the Mitt Romney I know. You can't have somebody who's more fun to just go do things with. I mean, I've driven all over the state with just Mitt Romney and me. We've been to Dunkin' Donuts in Ludlow and little restaurants in Chicopee and everywhere, all over the state.

    And any day you're with Mitt, it's a fun day to be with him. I've had candidates and worked with candidates who were sourpusses and you'd say, "I think I'll stay in the campaign headquarters; you go out and campaign." I loved being out with Mitt; it was so much fun. ...

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    Dane McBride   Friend, fellow missionary

    A Virginia physician, McBride has been friends with Mitt Romney for more than 40 years. The two met in 1966 while serving as Mormon missionaries in France. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on July 13, 2012.

    One of the issues that he's had to deal with on the road is that people sort of feel like they can't connect to him, that they don't relate to him. So as you see the man out there, how does that differ, the public perception from the person that you know?

    I'm not sure why there is that perception. I think when people meet him and know him, they're just astounded at how he's presented by people who do not know him, people in the press who don't know him, who simply are reciting what they've read and heard others say.

    A good example was I think the Fox News commentator Dick Morris, who I think had never been particularly fond of Romney, at least as I viewed his commentary along the way. One day I think last December, or something like that, he had a chance encounter with Mitt at a restaurant in Detroit, at the airport hotel restaurant. And just happenstance they were both waiting for a plane. It was about 45 minutes later. They had this chat. Dick Morris comes on and says: "I never realized what this guy was like. He's a delightful person. You'd love to spend a weekend with this guy. All this business about --" and he basically said, "Essentially everything I've been thinking about him was wrong."

    I don't know. I mean, I have my ideas of where it came from and so forth. But Mitt is inherently, I think it's a part of some humility about him that he's respectful. He has a respect for an audience; he has a respect for a group. So again, in a generation that was raised with dress for success, present yourself for success and so forth, that that's how you do things. And maybe that comes across stiff or whatever. But you only have to talk with him and shake his hand for a couple of minutes and realize that this is a guy with great leadership, great warmth. You're not a leader if you don't have warmth.

    The idea that he could have done what he has done and be cold, stiff, robotic, not connecting is a myth.

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    Philip Barlow   Mormon historian

    (Text only) A professor Mormon History & Culture at Utah State University, Barlow worked with Mitt Romney in the leadership of their Massachusetts Mormon ward. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 19, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    Well, it begs the point of sort of. One of the things you hear on the campaign trail today is him being out of touch and not connecting or relating to the common man.

    Yeah.

    Help me understand how his experience as a bishop and what you observed would inform otherwise.

    Well, with the rest of the nation, I've seen him make comments that seemed ill-advised -- making a $10,000 bet on the spot when you're extremely wealthy. You can forget how that would come across to ordinary people.

    But I also roll my eyes at the endless commentary that I observe about him being out of touch, because in the years that I worked with him, that's what a Mormon bishop does, and he was not only not an exception, but exceptionally good at hands-on involvement.

    I do remember saying early on, within the first month or so of being a new bishop, coming, and we met in his home, and I remember him a time or two shaking his head, saying, "I had little idea that people live like this." And that comment did not reflect, as far as I could make out, that he was so much out of touch or above, because he's in an elite social class, but just the experience that more or less every Mormon bishop has at getting so involved with people's lives. ...

    So he was touched, he was moved, and I saw him and participated with him, involved intimately with people of all sorts of economic and social and ethnic backgrounds. Out of touch, oblivious, to that part of the world he is not. 

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    Philip Barlow   Mormon historian

    (Text only) A professor Mormon History & Culture at Utah State University, Barlow worked with Mitt Romney in the leadership of their Massachusetts Mormon ward. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 19, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    You wrote a wonderful article talking about Mitt as bishop, and there are two questions that you say surround Mitt Romney. One is, is he authentic? And two is, what about his weird religion? ...

    Yes. Well, it's very difficult to know what you're seeing when there's a national spotlight on you. I'm not sure how I would have come across with the world's microphones in front of my face, and it's going to be interpreted differently in Pakistan than it is in Florida.

    Mitt, like anybody else, has to make a decision to, "What will my message be?," and to stay on message and, by doing that, and not wandering all over the place in one's comments, that, by itself, can come across as inauthentic.

    But I think Mitt's problem is that he's so naturally photogenic and he's so naturally elegant or eloquent in his manners, that it can come across as laminated, and maybe he's guilty of that. I'm not speaking to that.

    But there's a problem of perception, because when I was out at his Cape Cod home with Ann and Mitt hosting a few friends in the congregation on the beachfront, when he has his shirt unbuttoned and in his swimming shorts and he's flipping hamburgers or driving the boat, trying to knock people off of the tube or the skis, there's still a certain elegance there. He might be laughing, he might be making a goofy joke, but there's, behind that, a kind of a natural smoothness.

    So to ask him to look more muddy, more down home, is to ask him to be more inauthentic so that he can appear more authentic to the world. We're asking him to pull his personality and distort his personality so that he can act more casual or something that he naturally is.

    When he's on camera and I watch him from afar, he's not so different from the Mitt I worked with on a daily basis. He has a faint Mitt Romney smile of good nature or confidence. If he's being challenged, he welcomes and enjoys debate; he enjoys competition. But his expression is not so different in private than public, and I take that to be authentic. Whether we enjoy it or not, like it or not, it's who he is.

    There is that sort of, you know, Donny and Marie, "golly gee," you know, that is kind of a part of him. Explain that side of him and how that all connects together.

    Yeah. Well, again, some of that is Mitt, some of that is Romney-ness, some of that is genetics, some of it is American, but a lot of it comes from Mormon culture. Donny and Marie Osmond, especially in earlier years, used to be a public face for that. Steve Young, the San Francisco 49ers hall-of-famer quarterback has some of that.

    So that may seem corny. It would be cool to some people if he could throw in some "hells" and "damns" in his language and sprinkle it with more color, but Mormon culture doesn't encourage that. As the New Testament has it, "Let your yeas be yea and your nays be nay," and oaths are not necessary or helpful.

    So it's clean. It's squeaky clean. It may seem boring. I'm the only Mormon where I work in the Department of Religious Studies and History up at Utah State University, and I'm getting ribbed all the time for being too squeaky clean, or can we sneak a little alcohol in Barlow's water drink at the cocktail party or something. So Mitt's naturally subject to that, only with national exposure. But it's authentic, and it's OK. ...

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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 »

    It sounds like he's a man that has tremendous confidence in his own abilities. Is that fair to say?

    Mitt has confidence in his capability to put together a plan and a team to be able to do whatever needs to be done, whether it's a turnaround or a situation that's in dire straits. He knows he can't do it himself, but he knows there has to be a leader, and he knows that he's done that many times in the past, and he feels confident and capable of doing it again, not by himself, but with a great team of people working with him. ...

    ... Having seen the man during this period of time that he ran the Olympics, that the local community was rallied around and felt like they knew him, and he was one of them, why do you think we don't see more of that Mitt Romney on the campaign trail?

    One of the things that's troubling to me is that I know Mitt, and he's warm, he's personable, he's fun, and it doesn't come across on the media. One of the reasons is people look for these little sound bites and picking apart this word or this sentence and things like that. Instead, they should spend time with him just to see how he is with his family, with his friends, and they'll see a side of Mitt that is very inspiring, that's very warm, that's very endearing even. And that's the tragedy that I've seen over the coverage of the campaign is we have not seen that side of Mitt. I hope that it comes out. ...

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    Romney as a Leader

    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    He does seem to have this sort of confidence or sense of self. Where do you think that comes from?

    I think he's a unique individual. I think everybody in my family has a pretty good intellect, but Mitt has an ability to analyze and see the heart of issues and delve into it perhaps more thoroughly than some. And you see it all the time. He just thinks differently.

    When he left to run against Ted Kennedy for Senate, his partners came to me and said, "We need him back." I said: "Why do you need him back? You've got the brightest people from all the schools in the country at Bain." [They] said: "Because he asks the toughest questions. If we could get a deal through him, we knew it was going to work," because he knew everything to think about that was a positive or a negative with the transaction.

    I've seen it time and time again, how he conducts meetings, how he conducts staff meetings that I have a privilege of going to every now and then, and they bring ideas to him. He's challenging. He asks them the proper questions. He just is a person that is able to bring a different analytical spirit to it and encourages them to do the same. And [he] then is able to make a very good decision.

    And is that something he had all along?

    I think a lot of it. ... I think he did have it all along.

    You know, when ... he was 16, I was 22. My parents put us in a hotel someplace. ... Mitt and I were going to be there for three days, and Mitt said, "Well, Scott, why don't we change our rooms to the cheapest rooms in the hotel, the smallest, cheapest rooms in the hotel, and then we can use the rest of the money for food?"

    You know, 16-year-olds don't always think about that. He's always thinking about different ways of doing things. It's just in his nature.

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    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    [Republican political consultant] Charley Manning said to us: "There are people in life who are unlucky. There are people in life like me that just some things go your way and some things don't. And then there's Mitt." He thinks luck sort of follows him. What do you think of that?

    I think luck is where preparation and opportunity meet. ... He got in private equity at a perfect time, but not everybody else knew it was a perfect time, and it was enormously successful. He was really the founder in one way of some of the private equity business. He's been at the right place at the right time, but he's the one that was able to perform.

    People have also described him as a rules guy. He likes rules, and he likes order. ...

    I think he likes rules, and I think he likes order, but I think he's willing to deal with chaos when it happens. He's very good in emergencies. Everything I've ever seen, he's very good in emergencies.

    And he has a little bit of that prankster that he was as a kid; he can be rebellious when he needs to be rebellious. And when he knows a rule is wrong, he'll fight against that rule. So he's an independent thinker.

    What are the things that ruffle him?

    ... I don't know what really gets him upset anymore. My dad had a little bit of a temper, and I think we all have a little bit of a temper. Probably most people do. But he's learned that that isn't effective in getting things done, and so he's learned to deal with it.

    I know that he would get mad at his boys sometimes when they would do something that upset him, and he would get mad at this and that and the other. But I haven't seen him get angry at even the most despicable thing that I think other candidates could do. He really understands that that's something he has to deal with and he has to get over it. It's like a bad [referee] call in a basketball game; there's really nothing you can do about it.

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