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Mitt Romney's Character

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Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

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Circulating via email and social media, details of Mitt Romney's participation in efforts to locate and rescue the missing daughter of business colleague Robert Gay in 1996.

Description: Forwarded email
Circulating since: Jan. 2012
Status: True (see details below)

Email text contributed by J. Moore, Feb. 2, 2012:

Subject: Fwd: Mitt Romney's Personality!

On Romney's character....

Sometimes, this facet of Romney’s personality isn’t so subtle. In July 1996, the 14-year-old daughter of Robert Gay, a partner at Bain Capital, had disappeared. 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. 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.

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.”

So, here’s my epiphany: Mitt Romney simply can’t help himself. He sees a problem, and his mind immediately sets to work solving it, sometimes consciously, and sometimes not-so-consciously. He doesn’t do it for self-aggrandizement, or for personal gain. He does it because that’s just how he’s wired.

Many people are unaware of the fact that when Romney was asked by his old employer, Bill Bain, to come back to Bain & Company as CEO to rescue the firm from bankruptcy, Romney left Bain Capital to work at Bain & Company for an annual salary of one dollar. When Romney went to the rescue of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, he accepted no salary for three years, and wouldn’t use an expense account. He also accepted no salary as Governor of Massachusetts.

Character counts!! (and yes...that's worth reading again!)

Analysis: Apart from a dollop of hyperbole and a few minor details that conflict with contemporary press reports (most notably the claim that the missing girl was suffering from serious drug withdrawals and "might not have survived another day" if she hadn't been found when she was), this account comports with the known facts.

On the night of July 6, 1996, 14-year-old Melissa Gay, daughter of Bain Capital executive Robert Gay, went missing after attending a late-night rave in New York City. Gay recruited his business partners, including Mitt Romney, and the Boston-based firm's 200 employees to help him conduct a city-wide search.

"And so I said," Romney recalled when asked about the incident during a town hall meeting in March 2012, "‘Let’s close the firm, let’s close the company. Let’s all of us fly down to New York and try to find her.’ And so we closed the business, we went home and packed our things, we got a hotel near the airport where we all went to, we set up a headquarters, we met with the detectives with the New York City Police Department, we hired a private investigative firm to help guide us through this process."

Gay, Romney, and team literally fanned out on the streets of Manhattan in suits and ties, distributing 300,000 fliers and asking passersby point-blank if they had seen the missing girl. Their efforts quickly paid off in the form of a phone call from a private residence in Montville, New Jersey, where it turned out Melissa was staying with acquaintances. She was retrieved by police and reunited with her parents in the early morning hours of July 12.

"She's OK," Robert Gay said in a statement to the Associated Press. "How can you ask for anything more than that?"

In a 2008 campaign video for his friend and former business partner, Gay described Romney's role in the rescue effort as follows: "My business partner stepped forward to take charge. He closed the company and brought almost all our employees to New York. He said, `I don't care how long it takes. We're going to find her.' He set up a command center and searched through the night. The man who helped save my daughter was Mitt Romney."

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See also:

Romney Family 'Money' Picture
This viral image circulating in advance of the 2012 election purports to show Mitt Romney and family wearing T-shirts that spell out the word "money."

Mitt Romney Bio
From About.com: U.S. Politics

Sources and further reading:

How Mitt Romney Shut Down His Firm to Search for Friend's Missing Daughter
Daily Mail, 17 March 2012

Pressed for Anecdote, Romney Recounts Tale of Missing Girl
The Caucus (NY Times blog), 3 March 2012

Romney Did 'Help Save' Teen
Politifact.com, 19 December 2007

Story of How Mitt Romney Helped Find Teen Has Become Exaggerated
The Daily, 16 April 2012

Missing Teen-Ager Found in New Jersey
NY Times, 13 July 1996

Volunteers Search for Missing Girl, 14, in Party Underworld
NY Times, 12 July 1996

Ridgefield Teen, Missing Five Days, Found Safe in New Jersey Home
Associated Press, 11 July 1996

Last updated 05/05/12

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