Mitt Romney actually has a compelling personal story that on the surface seems tailor-made for the standoffish, dickish presidential candidate, especially considering that his resume is very thin when it comes to warm, fuzzy, endearing, non-dickish stories.
Unfortunately for Romney this event also highlights a stereotype that is one of the many reasons he avoids discussing his Mormon faith.
Romney doesn't trot this story out because he's humble. He'd take credit for inventing the vagina if he thought that anyone would believe him. But Romney is smart enough to know that every time his religion seeps into the narrative he loses votes.
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In July 1996 the 14-year-old daughter of one of Mitt Romney's business partners went missing. When Romney caught wind of this he sprung into action, shut down Bain Capital’s office, and led a massive and ultimately successful effort to rescue the young woman.
"… the 14-year-old daughter of Robert Gay, a partner at Bain Capital, had disappeared," the story reads. "She had attended a rave party in New York City and gotten high on ecstasy. Three days later, her distraught father had no idea where she was. Romney took immediate action. He closed down the entire firm and asked all 30 partners and employees to fly to New York to help find Gay’s daughter.
This was an extraordinary mobilization of people and resources.
“Romney set up a command center at the LaGuardia Marriott and hired a private detective firm to assist with the search. He established a toll-free number for tips, coordinating the effort with the NYPD, and went through his Rolodex and called everyone Bain did business with in New York and asked them to help find his friend’s missing daughter. Romney’s accountants at Price Waterhouse Cooper put up posters on street poles, while cashiers at a pharmacy owned by Bain put fliers in the bag of every shopper. Romney and the other Bain employees scoured every part of New York and talked with everyone they could – prostitutes, drug addicts – anyone.”
It seems odd that this story, which has been independently verified to be true, has not been repeated ad nauseam, if not by Romney then certainly by his surrogates. (Romney’s son Tagg did resurrect this story via Twitter on February 8).
"That day, their hunt made the evening news, which featured photos of the girl and the Bain employees searching for her. As a result, a teenage boy phoned in, asked if there was a reward, and then hung up abruptly. The NYPD traced the call to a home in New Jersey, where they found the girl in the basement, shivering and experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a massive ecstasy dose. Doctors later said the girl might not have survived another day. Romney’s former partner credits Mitt Romney with saving his daughter’s life, saying, ‘It was the most amazing thing, and I’ll never forget this to the day I die.”
In reverse order, my third thought when I read this story was that this is a side of Mitt Romney that finally makes him seem heroic, or at the very least “human.” My second thought was that Romney went to all of this effort only because Robert Gay was his business partner and friend.
But the first thought that crossed my cynical mind was, “I bet Robert Gay is Mormon.” A nanosecond Google search proved that my cynicism was not misguided.
Mr. Gay resigned as a full-time partner from Bain Capital when his church asked him to take a volunteer assignment as its Mission President for the countries of Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia from July 2004 to July 2007. On 5 April 2008 Robert C. Gay was called as an Area Seventy, for North American Southeast Area for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Okay, big deal, right? So what if Romney and Gay shared the strong bond that the Mormon faith provides. But as altruistic as Romney’s rescue effort may have been, this story also illustrates his careless willingness to put Bain’s employees in harm’s way to help out “one of the flock.”
Did Mitt Romney ever mobilize his extensive financial and human resource network to attempt to locate any number of other children that went missing in Massachusetts, while he was either at Bain or serving as Governor?
No, he didn’t.
But when his Mormon partner had a crisis, Romney ignored the fact that his employees had no training in law enforcement, no weapons, and no experience wandering the mean streets of Manhattan.
You can bet your bottom dollar that if Robert Gay had been the Baptist janitor at Bain this story would be woven into every single Mitt Romney stump speech.
Except for one thing: If Robert Gay was a Baptist janitor this story never would have happened.