Romney's softer side in Florida
October 5th, 2012
10:01 PM ET
9 years ago

Romney's softer side in Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida (CNN) - In a speech to another approving audience on what has become a post-debate victory tour, a contemplative Mitt Romney shared some of his personal side with Florida voters Friday night.

The GOP nominee, who was joined by his wife Ann, told an audience of several thousand supporters about the deaths of three Americans who had made a lasting impact on him.

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Romney recounted having recently seen an old friend from graduate school, Bill Hulse, who had been quadriplegic since suffering an accident. Hulse approached Romney at a campaign event last month.

"It's not easy for Billy to get around. Quadriplegic…he can't move, of course, his arms and his legs, and he can barely speak," Romney said. "I reached down and I put my hand on Billy's shoulder and I whispered into his ear, and I said 'Billy, God bless you, I love ya.' And he whispered right back to me – and I couldn't quite hear what he said. He tried to speak loud enough for me to hear."

"He died the next day," Romney continued, adding that Hulse had championed spinal injury research and was "a great man" with admirable spirit.

The former Massachusetts governor also spoke about a 14-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with leukemia and whom he had counseled in his role in the Mormon church. The boy, David Oparowski, asked "Brother Romney" to help him write his will.

"So I went to David's bedside and got a piece of legal paper, made it look very official. And then David proceeded to tell me what he wanted to give his friends. Talked about his fishing rod, and who would get that. He talked about his skateboard, who'd get that. And his rifle, that went to his brother," Romney said. "I've seen the character of a young man like David, who wasn't emotional or crying. He had his eyes wide open."

After Oparowski's death, Romney delivered the eulogy at the funeral.

Romney also quoted a line popularized by the television show "Friday Night Lights:" "There's a saying, clear eyes, full heart, can't lose," he said.

He finished his foray into the personal by recounting a meeting with the widow of a military sharpshooter. When "some very misguided people" protested at her husband's funeral, Romney quoted the woman as saying her husband had "died for them to be able to protest."

"This is quite a nation we live in, with some extraordinary people," Romney said.

During his visit to St. Petersburg, Romney made no mention of Friday's unemployment numbers, which for the first time in years dipped below 8%.

He did, however, spend a chunk of his speech recapping Wednesday's presidential debate.

And Romney made a joking reference to a theory circulating on the Internet about whether the Republican candidate had taken notes into the debate (the campaign said the hubbub was over a handkerchief).

As he began to describe his five-point plan for turning around the economy, Romney quipped: "I don't have to look at notes to know what they are, by the way. I know what they are."

Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Mitt Romney
soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Jack Moss

    This isn't an isolated story, it's really who he is. Politics aside, he's a good man. There are hundreds of these stories out there.

    October 5, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  2. huh?

    This man is a disgrace. he's trying so hard to come off as caring but let's face it he's just trying to get votes. if elected we're ALL for sale to the highest bidder.

    October 5, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  3. Woman In California

    Never have I seen a candidate spend so much time TRYING to make himself appear HUMAN. That alone, should tell you something is NOT right about this guy. It is and has always been, a common practice for candidates to try and connect with the voters, but it has never been a practice to TRY and appear human. This is one of the reasons people are drawn to the president and yes, unfortunately, even Bush because they feel a certain connection there which is sorely missing with Willard. There is something terribly weird about this guy, and I, for one, would like no part of it.

    October 5, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  4. Yonni

    This is very new strategy, this might work who knows. I am not sure what people to think of Mitt this time (may be he will do anything to get elected) because I remember we were told Mitt doesn't like to talk about his did because it is not his nature. All of a sudden Mitten is talking about his charity, I wonder what is his inspiration this time? On the other hand, Mitten was sad earlier today because the unemployment rate was down; less than he hoped for and a some lucky poor Americans made a few bucks, and he might have felt this will interfere with his father and his dream to become the POTUS. I am sorry for Mitten he was born without soul.

    October 5, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  5. miklea supporter, but

    Did anybody trust job report? Come on people, let's be strait -- this is joke. You will see next month,. it's going to be even "better"

    October 5, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  6. Larry L

    I'd like to hear about his feelings when rested on the warm beaches of Southern France – writing love letters to his wife. He was extending the typical "mission" of a rich Mormon rather than some stink-hole of poverty and disease. He used that mission, in fact extended the mission, to avoid the Vietnam draft. During that time those of us in the military defended our country in the malaria infested hell of those jungles and many died in the effort. Many more carry hidden scars forever. Now Mitt is a "chicken-hawk" ready to send other people's kids to fight useless wars – just like his father before him. You can bet his sons won't be in the fight. I'll fight to prevent mine from serving for a spoiled and gutless Commander-In-Chief like Romney.

    October 5, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  7. MaryM

    Mitt Flip Flopney may fool his base of deniers, But he does not fool the majority of Americans. Mitt, Most of Americans know you are a liar and a flim flam man, just like Lyin Ryan. Mitt, you are not Presidential material and queen, you people, Ann will never be first lady.

    October 5, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  8. Donkey Party

    This kind of pandering only makes Romney look more insincere than he already is. Fake, phony, lying fraud.

    October 5, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  9. MaryAngeline

    Now he's resorting to sob stories....puhleeeeze! I'm surprised Ann didn't talk about her MS. That's always good for a little pity.

    October 5, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  10. Maria

    This guy is fast becoming a joke.He leans to the right,that didn't work.He jumps the gun on Libya,that didn't work.He tries to move to the center,that didn't work.He writes off 47% of America,that didn't work.He now is compassionate 30 days before the election,and that won't work either.Will the real Mitt please stand up.

    October 5, 2012 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  11. Angelbird

    Wow! Romney is becoming a great actor..

    October 6, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  12. Woman in New York

    He met with a Military widow......this draft dodging, let me run to France to be a Bishop, with his sons who never served a day for our country. This just makes me livid. He only cares about himself and his family and friend.
    Then he said about the 47% it was wrong, he never did apologize.......Obama/Biden 2012

    October 6, 2012 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  13. TSki

    Campaign handler: OK Mitt, now that we've turned towards the center, we need to show the people you have a softer side, that you care about the common man, you know, the 47%. We need three stories about people dying - the people love that.

    October 6, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  14. politics as usual

    What a lovely and honorable man. I will be so proud to call him my President.

    October 6, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  15. Thomas

    Where was Mitt Romney's economic plan and his econominc incite back in 07, 08 ?

    On July 4, 2007, the Romney campaign officially launched the "Mitt Mobile, A Five Brothers Bus", referring to Romney's five sons and his official campaign blog, Five Brothers. When asked why his sons were not fighting in Iraq, Romney replied that his sons were supporting America by riding from town to town in the "Five Brothers Bus," saying "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected.Romney later apologized and said he misspoke and that there is no comparison to the sacrifice that military persons make.

    Campaign staff and advisors

    Beth Myers, campaign manager (worked for Karl Rove in the 1980s, and had long been a campaign advisor)
    Cofer Black, Vice Chairman of Blackwater Worldwide as Counter-Terrorism Policy Advisor
    Elizabeth Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, as senior foreign policy advisor

    Voting for Romney is like a vote for GW BUSH !

    October 6, 2012 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  16. Andrea Sharp

    I appreciate the 3 but what about my thousands of my sisters and brothers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for you that should impact you just as much

    October 6, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  17. Gurgyl

    This idiot bans your SS, Medicare.....this idiot is a big JOKE TO USA AND WORLD. He lies. This thug ships jobs to china, Bain capital idiot. Never be overnight fools. Yes, on Obama12.
    PS: god is on Obama side.

    October 6, 2012 04:44 am at 4:44 am |
  18. CBR

    Recounting these deaths must be painful. Does it show a softer side of a politician – sadly no. However, many of us have been touched by the deaths of friend and relatives. A women who was the heart and soul of our community passed away. She quietly gave of herself every day.

    If you look at what Mr. Romney proposes you understand there is a divide between the Mr. Romney who speaks of those who have died and the man who would be president. The cuts he will make will bring more hard times to folks. The "veto" of " Obamacare" will hurt many Americans who have never met Mr. Romney. The tax plan he has touted will hurt many Americans who cannot afford to pay more in taxes while those of us in the 1% will continue along without sacrificing anything.

    October 6, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  19. GI Joe

    He's lying, unless he's running across a bunch of whining mormons on the way. He feels for NO ONE.

    October 6, 2012 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  20. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Soft side Hard side, but where's the Beef, Mr. Romney. This man and his family have led a "separist life" all their lives and should never lead this country.

    October 6, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  21. Pete

    See just like others how he's trying to be one of us,down to earth,compassionate,has feelings,what BS.Most people don't go around betting people $10,000 on tv to make a point or ask your parents for $20,000 for college either,is that what he considered normal,I don't!!He's the Mormon bishop that told a single mom to give up her newborn or quit being a Mormon,he told her she's irresponsible,she's incompetent,ask him he can't deny it or better yet ask her,its in the Vanityfair magazine about the true Romney,its scarey just what he is!!He can't substanciate any of his so called facts because before the debate they never existed,just a pathelogical liar talking out both sides of his mouth to get votes,whatever it takes to get it done!Now talking to seniors showing his "real soft side" ,what BS ,you're talking of a vulture who made money closing out corporations and giving out pinkslips,killing their pensions,healthcare and their futures,sending their jobs overseas.Romney compassionate,3billion in realestate in Utah and other states ,donating to the poor,deprived,now you're hitting below the belt Romney.Where were you when Vietnam was going on,in France right picketing for the war,not against it you smuck,its fact and your five sons are against any military involvement as well,just a draftdodging family right,goes back to their grandfather he dodged the Mexican revolution but he sued the country that he lived in as a polygimist didn't he,its how they made their money,off the backs of others,its inherient,its pathedic this creep is trying to be president and these idiots actually like him,but that's republicans losers voting for losers isn't it!!

    October 6, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. Ann

    For the sake of this country, I hope Romney will win. If Democrats had the decency to bring back Hillary, they would have a chance.

    October 6, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Larry L

    Romney is dishonest. He won't give specifics to his plans because those specifics only favor the rich. He wants to keep the promises to the fat-cats secret until after the election. His tax returns are a perfect example of his true character. He continues to hide them because they reveal him as a tax cheat. He got busted by the IRS for serial tax fraud, his slimy lawyers cut a plea bargain and paid a fine. He doesn't want those of us who play by the rules to see how he operates. He plans to kill Medicare, Social Security and the healthcare laws that now protect so many people. He's just another draft-dodging, lying, spoiled rich boy who wants power.

    October 6, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Don't be stupid people, Romney and his family are direct benefactors of your hard work and that of our U.S. Military men and women. He earned his money off the blood sweat and tears of your employment.

    October 6, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  25. Martha in CF

    The redumblican party needs real help and it won't come from Romney. I don't care what he does or says, if he were elected president he wouldn't be running the show. He is a puppet....scary

    October 6, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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