I was at Mitt Romney’s speech regarding the state of the 2016 presidential race this morning. I arrived wondering what Mitt would say. When I left, I was glad that he said what he said.
As I walked toward the speech venue, I saw hundreds of college students lined up and ready to hear from the 2012 nominee. Inside the auditorium, every major press outlet was present. There were reserved seats for dignitaries. The event had the feel of something important at the very least, perhaps even historic.
Some may say that Mitt is not qualified to speak about the 2016 race because he lost in 2012. I don’t think that’s true, but I would submit this: Mitt is qualified to speak out about character and substance, because he embodies good character and substance. That’s the reason I went to work on his 2008 campaign as an intern and pitched in during the 2012 cycle.
Before I arrived in Boston, I knew that I liked his policy proposals (yes he actually had some) and admired how he turned around the Salt Lake City Olympics. I also knew that he and his family graciously took in the family of a friend after their house burned down. He was the kind of guy I could get behind.
During the time I spent at campaign headquarters in Boston, I learned a few things about Mitt for myself. I would start by saying that he’s the real deal and nothing like how he was portrayed in the media. The cold titan he was made out to be was actually one of the few senior folks on the campaign (indeed the head of the campaign) who always acknowledged my presence — even though I was just an intern — and took time to say hello or engage in conversation (albeit brief) while passing in the hallway or at events. I watched his inquisitive mind and sharp intellect challenge the knowledge of seasoned political veterans. I got to meet his family and associates and observe loyalty that could only be forged through the most genuine of relationships.
Back to the speech, there were a few things that stood out to me. First, I noted Romney’s signature undying belief in the greatness of the United States. Second, his frank acknowledgement that the Republican Party may well put forth a nominee who could do serious damage to the country and change its trajectory in a negative way. The third thing I would mention is the contrast between the former Republican Party nominee and this cycle’s current front runner.
Talking about the greatness of our country, he expressed his belief that America is poised to lead. But, during these troubled times, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future would be diminished if Donald Trump is put forth as the Republican Party nominee.
Striking was how clearly he contrasted Trump’s admiration for Putin and his disdain for George W. Bush. Romney highlighted Trump’s mocking of the disabled, discrimination against women and minorities, and blatant disrespect for anything but himself and his own ambition. He reminded us that these are examples of evil TRUMPing good.
Lastly, I would mention — and voice agreement with Mitt’s view — that the U.S. has been blessed with great leaders. Our presidents have inspired us to rise above our differences and challenges. Trump “directs anger” in the wrong way. He plays to our worst instincts and fears for his own personal gain. He has mastered the art of public manipulation and obfuscation of intentions. Trump’s lack of honesty with the American people about his views, accomplishment and intentions is one of the most disturbing elements of his candidacy. In essence, Trump is the phony that Romney called him out to be this morning.
I for one am glad somebody (Governor Romney) had the courage to stand up and speak out as a man of good character and a concerned citizen regarding this precariously dangerous position the party now finds itself in. Besides, doesn’t Trump boast about how many people are engaged in the process right now? Why not one more voice, who just happens to be a great man and the 2012 Republican nominee? To Mitt, I say thank you for giving many thoughtful and decent people a voice in the process.