The Corner

‘The Mitt Nobody Sees’

Mitt Romney may not be the worst human being ever, reports the New York Times:

 

Nearly lost among the blizzard of hedge funds, thoroughbred horses and other gold-plated investments in Mitt Romney’s personal financial disclosures, the interest from the $50,500 mortgage is loose change to Mr. Romney, whose net worth has been estimated at close to a quarter-billion dollars.

Yet for the Stampses, who have been writing $600 monthly checks to “Willard M. Romney” for 15 years, the money they borrowed from him to buy their home in 1997 was life-changing.

Lured by the prospect of buying five rent-to-own houses in the Houston suburbs without putting up any of his own money, Mr. Romney jumped into a speculative deal geared toward “affluent free enterprise capitalists who desire a quality investment with tax shelter benefits,” according to a prospectus. Based on frothy assumptions of a never-ending real estate boom, it was unlike the data-driven, analytical investments that came to define his later successes at Bain Capital.

The result was a rare Romney flop: The housing market soon collapsed, and he was stuck renting out the houses for years before unloading them, mostly at a loss, in the late 1990s, according to property records. The renters were offered the first chance to buy, but the Stampses could not qualify for a mortgage, recalled Mr. Stamps, who at the time had recently lost his job at an oil company.

“Then I got this phone call, personally, from Mr. Romney, asking if we really wanted to buy the house,” Mr. Stamps, 63, said in an interview the other day at the barbershop he now runs. “I said, yes we did. And he said he would loan us the money. He really helped us when we needed it.”

Romney has a long history of helping people out without fanfare, and it’s interesting how he hasn’t tried to exploit that history at all for the campaign. (The Romney campaign wouldn’t comment to the Times on this story, which seems par for the course: Romney just won’t highlight his personal good deeds.) In The Real Romney, Boston Globe writers Michael Kranish and Scott Helman detail several incidents of kindness from Romney. For instance, Romney once noticed that a friend of his, Grant Bennett, was missing from a meeting of Mormon leaders; he ended up going over to Bennett’s house, after hearing that Bennett had fallen off a ladder when trying to remove a hornet’s nest from his home’s exterior. Romney didn’t merely extend his condolences — that night, he returned to Bennett’s home, and removed the hornet nest. 

“Everyone who has known Romney in the church community seems to have a story like this, about him and his family pitching in to help in ways big and small,” write Kranish and Helman. “They took chicken and asparagus soup to sick parishioners. They invited unsettled Mormon transplants to their home for lasagna.” 

When a family in the church was struggling financially (due to a six-figure loan, not being paid back, given to another church member), Romney offered to help negotiate. But he also offered to give the family struggling financial assistance and to help the wife find a job. And there there is this act of kindness:

Romney’s acts of charity extended beyond just the church community. After his friend and neighbor Joseph O’Donnell lost a son, Joey, to cystic fibrosis — he died in 1986 at age twelve — Romney helped lead a community effort to build Joey’s Park, a playground at Winn Brook School in Belmont. “There he was, with a hammer in his belt, the Mitt nobody sees,” O’Donnell said. Romney didn’t stop there. About a year later, it became apparent that the park would need regular maintenance and repairs. “The next thing I know, my wife calls me up and says, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but Mitt Romney is down with a bunch of Boy Scouts and kids and they’re working on the park,’ ” said O’Donnell, who coached some of Romney’s sons in youth sports. “He did it for like the next five years, without ever calling to say, ‘We’re doing this,’ without a reporter in tow, not looking for any credit.”

I doubt we’re going to see much — or any — of this ever highlighted by the campaign.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

Most Popular

Culture

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Elections

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
World

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election, and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Lessons of the Mueller Probe

Editor’s Note: The following is the written testimony submitted by Mr. McCarthy in connection with a hearing earlier today before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the Mueller Report (specifically, the first volume of the report, which addresses Russia’s interference in the 2016 ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1139263782142787585 Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More