The short answer is “Yes” and the long answer is “Yes, with some exceptions.” Mormons overwhelmingly voted for Mitt Romney in the primaries. No surprise there. Even I, whom I consider to be an extremely objective and intelligent human being, was rooting for Romney. But just the same, I had a lot of doubts about him. I agree with his critics that say he seemed to have a record of flip-flopping on issues for political expediency. Maybe those were legitimate changes of heart, but the timing and circumstances cast plenty of doubts. I’m also not convinced that he’s a true conservative. I know he’s talking the talk and trying to walk the walk, but again, it seems politically motivated. Could just be the spin I got from the media who was trying to take him down, but if that’s the case it didn’t seem like they had to work very hard. At the end of the day I found myself saying “I think Romney is the best we’ve got, although I wish we had someone better.”
Much of what I liked about Romney wasn’t based on information I learned from the media, but from people I’ve met and talked to who know Romney personally. It’s from being here in Utah when he came here and straightened out the 2002 Winter Olympics after a huge scandal and made it into arguably the most successful Winter Olympics of all time. Here’s a tangential story or two for you from people who were there.
Mitt Romney comes in to take over the Olympics. Up to this point, the organizing committee had been having fancy catered lunches, despite being millions of dollars in debt. Perhaps their logic was “Hey, we’re millions in debt, what’s another $10K for catered lunches?” But Romney wouldn’t have any of it. He canceled the catering, ordered Dominos Pizza for the lunches, and charged everyone a dollar per slice or let them bring their own lunch. When there was a traffic jam at a training event for the volunteers, Romney got out and started directing traffic. He didn’t wait for someone else to do it because it was beneath him, he saw a problem, realized he could do something about it, and he did.
Here’s another story that was reported in the media although I heard it from someone who was working with Romney at the time. One of Romney’s employees at a company he was managing had a teenage daughter who went missing. I don’t remember the details but I think it was a runaway situation. Romney closed the business down and organized the employees to go out and search for this lost girl. It would have been admirable if he told his employee “Gee, that’s horrible, please take as much time as you need and let me know what I can do to help.” Some employers wouldn’t even go that far. But to do what he did was above and beyond was could have been expected. Did he do it because he thought “Hey, someday I’m going to go into politics and this will be a great story to make me look good.” Maybe, but I doubt it. I think that’s who he really is. I think he cares that much about people.
It’s hearing stories like that from people I know and trust, and seeing people I know and trust who are associates of Romney that made me like him, in spite of the doubts I had. Not to mention I think he’s a proven expert when it comes to business and economics and making things more efficient, so I think he really could do a lot to clean up the bureaucratic mess in Washington. I’d love to see McCain put Romney in charge of this 9/11 style commission he wants to set up to analyze what has gone wrong with the economy and what can be done to fix it so that it never happens again.
So that’s how I feel about Romney. Would I feel any different if Romney weren’t a Mormon? Maybe, maybe not. As a Mormon it’s fun to see Mormons who have been successful and made it as far as Romney has, but I wouldn’t vote for someone just because they’re Mormon. Harry Reid is also a Mormon, but I’d vote for just about anybody before I’d cast a vote for him.