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. Four and The Door

    It only took one debate for Americans to see how much more capable, qualified and intelligent Mitt Romney is than Obama. But give Obama credit. He has been through a lot these last 3 1/2 years. You can see every frustrating minute has taken it's toll. Sure he did his best to try and get things straightened out and to do the best for the Democratic Party that supported him so gloriously in 2008. But the problems he faced were overwhelming. He was not prepared. And the toll this took on America must have weighed heavily as he tried to stand up and debate. Yeah he is done, but look at the great new team stepping up with an exciting plan to bring us back. Romney/ Ryan 2012.

    October 6, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    When Romney talks about taxes, I laugh because here's a man who hides his money in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes and if anyone thinks he's not going to protect and keep lower taxes for the wealthy and you're not going to pay higher taxes, then the jokes on you.

    October 6, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. John

    He doing what Mitt Romney does best ,and that Is he Lying just to get vote.

    October 6, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. Pineapple58

    This man is such a phony, I don't believe anything that comes out of his mouth. He will basically do anything for a vote and you can't trust him . HE LIES TOO MUCH.

    October 6, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    @politics as usual: "What a lovely and honorable man. I will be so proud to call him my President."

    Huh?!? He's a proven liar and a flip-flopper (pro-choice/anti-abortion is the tip of the iceberg). He's on tape saying he thinks 47% of Americans are blood-sucking ticks (including veterans, the elderly and the disabled, all of whom receive federal benefits). He got spray-tanned to speak in front of Latino voters in Florida, then scrubbed it off for the first Presidential debate (which, BTW, he seemed to have drunk his first cup of coffee, he was so manic).

    He's a loser – and the sooner you accept that fact, the better off you'll be.

    October 6, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    Big deal, his speech writers found a couple poignant stories for him to relate – Mr. I protested for the Vietnam war, then avoided the draft, then denied I avoided it, then said I wish I could have gone and fought in it.

    Mittens is a mess – and his unraveling has been public for all the world to see.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    October 6, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    I would like to hear again that lovely, heartwarming story about the warm and fuzzy Mitt, who decided to give a haircut to his good friend and schoolmate when he was in prep school. I tingle just thinking about it.

    October 6, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. Ms Edyeluv

    Robme the Robot, you can't feel what you've never had. Your a heartless, souless, cultist, lying Son of Satan. We True Americans get it. Moving FOWARD!!

    October 6, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. doug

    A good man with a good heart who lets his actions (millions given to charity yearly) do his talking.

    How refreshing it will be to have a person back in the White House who doesn't hate every American who disagrees with him, in fact Romney truly cares about all Americans, total 180 of Obama.

    Obama said on Univision in 2010 that every American who doesn't vote Democrat is the enemy and we need to punish our enemies and reward our friends. The leader of the free world should not be so hateful, partisan, and closed-minded. You seen it during the debate, Obama is disgusted with everyone who doesn't view the world as he does, what a disgrace for our country.

    October 6, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. Dzee

    Oh he is so compassionate and honorable...until he gets elected and 70 million Americans lose access to health care, then all those people with preexisting conditions (which he lied about covering..fact), get to sit in the street and suffer. The poor, disabled, and elderly will be allowed to starve so that we can give the wealthiest Americans more money they don't need. This guy is looking more and more like the Antichrist.

    October 6, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. Anthony

    People need to understand this. Romney is not the extremist he pretended to be in the Republican primary. He was just acting so that he could get the Republican nomination. He is not severely conservative. He was just playing to the Republican base. It is a mistake for Obama campaign to peg him as an extremist. To be an extremist, you need to have core beliefs. Romney has no core beliefs. He is a two-faced politician and an unprincipled flip-flopper. He says whatever needs to be said, depending on what the audience wants to hear. He said before the debate that he stood behind his words regarding the 47%, but now he says he is completely wrong about the 47%. He said in the debate that he won't cut taxes for the rich, yet his website clearly says that he will cut taxes across the board, so that includes the rich. Closing loopholes for the rich won't be enough to offset the 20% tax cut for the rich, so Romney is already lying about not cutting taxes for the rich.

    Obama should not focus on attacking Romney's individual positions. Romney will not stick to his positions anyway. It is like trying to hit a moving target. Even Republicans don't know where Romney stands on issues. Obama should instead focus on the kind of politician Romney is. The Romney in the Republican primary is a severe conservative. The Romney at the debate is a Massachusetts moderate. Which Romney do you believe?

    October 6, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. Romney hates us

    His reputation as worse-than-John-Kerry in terms of flip-flopping will doom him. Bishop Willard is all ambition without conviction.

    October 6, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. Maria

    Jack: Hate to burst your bubble,but a lot of these stories are from what he did at his church for an out reach program.What really bothers me is that he waits until 30 days before the election to bring these stories up,sounds a little desperate and pathetic.Again,he id this for his church.

    October 6, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Adnilhoom

    I don't want a talk-show cool, easily agitated Prez who really doesn't want the job. Romney is real, compassionate and WILL reverse our economic decline. Extreme libs will follow Obama over the cliff rather than wake up from their 4 yr trance. I voted for him in 2008 and started to wake up in 2009 when I heard his famous Cairo speech. He does think he is a messiah. Scary.

    October 6, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. Maria

    He raised fees-lots of them; for instance under Romney a driver's license went from $25 to $75. He left us with over 2 billion dollars in debt, he was 47th in job creation...and you know how he said at the debate the Massachusetts schools are #1 in the nation because of know where they were before he was governor...yup, same place. My favorite Romney story is that a group of people here challenged Romney's right to run for governor on the grounds that Massachusetts was not his primary state of residence. It was checked out and sure enough Utah was his primary state of residence-so what happened? Romney (with the help of his money) retroactively moved to MA–he went back and amended his tax returns, etc. Then he "moved" into his son's basement–his son swore that Mitt and Ann lived there for years....only thing is according to town records, his son's basement was an unfinished one.....can you imagine, Mitt and Ann living in an unfinished basement...eating off an ironing board....we've heard that one before! This coming from someone who lives there.

    October 6, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Wyatt

    Romney is a heartless, cold, liar that only cares about himself???! Really?? Yea 4 million in charity is just awful, visiting people in the hospital before work in the morning was just disgusting, and serving people in France and trying to help their lives is just atrocious. Seriously? Listen to what you are saying. He has done nothing but dedicate himself to serving others his entire life.

    October 6, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. NVa Native

    7.8% without any help from any GOP politicians.

    October 6, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Softer side?

    Tough is one thing, but a bully who wants to fire Big Bird? I know it is cheeky joke, but it has cruel undercurrent. If you assess his personality when trying identify cuts, he instinctly turned the weak who can't defend themselves, (innocent, non-partisan) Seasame Street. Now he is taking the compassionate conservative stance, which sway some people but won't really change his character and does not provide details on any of his plans (e.g., paying for $5 Trillion in tax cuts).

    October 6, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. 1608

    So who is this Mitt?

    October 6, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. kuewa

    Romney doesn't have a softer side in the sense implied by this report. Throughout his career, he has acted only to promote himself. Even his charitable contributions, to the Mormon Church and his own foundation, are primarily focused toward promotinghimself and his agenda. As Madeleine Albright observed, Romney is 2-dimensional. I'd take it another step to say that his 2 dimensions are flip and flop. He'll flip one minute, flop the other in the interests of self-promotion.

    October 6, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. ikenelson

    Romney has donated millions of dollars to charity and given thousands of hours of his time, unpaid, to serving as a leader in his religious community, ministering to people in need. He's a good man.

    October 6, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. Indy

    The only time you get to see the real Romney is when you watch the 47% video, that is the true blue Romney in that video. He may have won the debate in theory but he flat out lied with his denial of the 5 trillion dollar tax break and he denied everything that he has been campaigning on for the past year by saying "thats not in my plan" Romney is a very good liar and second only to Paul Ryan

    October 6, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. b.franz

    love the romneys most recent speech in florida. he's definitely going to our next president. lets get the vote our for the good of the country

    October 6, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. ikenelson

    Romney has giving millions of dollars of his personal wealth to charity. He served for thousands of hours, unpaid, helping people in need in his religious community in Massachusetts. He's a great man.

    October 6, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  25. Are you Serious??

    Did I misunderstand him or did Romney (in the debate) take credit for the healthy state of the Massachusetts public schools? During the DNC convention, the current Governor Deval Patrick stated that Romney cut education spending during his tenure! The man has no shame!

    October 6, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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