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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended July 09, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 07Jul00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Deseret News Profiles Mitt Romney
Deseret News 6Jul00 N2
By Elaine Jarvik: Deseret News staff writer

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Deseret News' Elaine Jarvik gives a long and interesting profile of Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney, the LDS Church member who moved to Salt Lake from Boston to save the 2002 Winter Olympics in the wake of a bribery scandal. The profile shows how Romney, perpetually aware of those around him, is able to diarm the press and lead the committee in preparing for the Olympics.

Romney joined the Salt Lake Organizing Committee 16 months ago, after Utah developer and Salt Lake Organizing Committee board member Kem Gardner approached Romney's wife, Ann, asking her to get Mitt to consider it. His first response was, "That's absolutely ridiculous."

But Mitt took the job and his family moved to Salt Lake City. Two weeks into the job, however, he discovered the true extent of the SLOC's financial problems, which went beyond the bribery scandal. "Two weeks into it, he started tearing the books apart, and he realized it was much worse than just the scandal. . . . He wasn't sleeping at all," says Ann. But after Romney's efforts during the past 16 months, he is sleeping again, and the SLOC's budget is in line with revenue projections, following cuts of $180 million and $200 million in sponsorship revenue that Mitt helped raise.

Jarvik connect's Mitt Romney's abilities with the example his father set for him. George Romney became head of American Motors when Mitt was 8. While his father was there, Mitt learned that leaders are sometimes hands-off, letting employees perform their responsibilities without interference. Other times, he learned, they are very involved in the details of an issue.

When Mitt was 15, his father ran for Governor of Michigan, and won. "I learned how you say things, what you don't say, how you build consensus," says Mitt of the experience. A few years later, Mitt was serving an LDS mission in France when his father ran for President of the US, and Mitt learned then about the benefits and pitfalls of being open to the media and the public. His father's failure to win the Republican nomination for President over Richard Nixon is generally attributed to his statement that he and other US Governors had been "brainwashed" during a tour of Vietnam.

Romney has put these lessons to work, first at the Boston venture capital firm Bain &Co., and then in a campaign for the US Senate against veteran politician Ted Kennedy. Ultimately, according to Jarvik, it was Romney's nature and image, his impossible-seeming clean living and upscale life style that made some voters uncomfortable and kept him from winning the election. The Boston Herald, in profiling Mitt and Ann Romney asked "Are they out of a time warp or something?" and the Boston Globe's bureau chief Frank Phillips said that "people felt Ted Kennedy was one of us and Mitt was from another place."

Jarvik's account gives many insights into Romney's character, and tries to give a sense of what may be ahead for him. Romney has gained a strong reputation in Utah, getting approval from 75% of Utahns for how he is handling the SLOC. That kind of favorable publicity, along with his LDS background and Republican credentials make him a shoe-in for office in Utah. But Utah isn't a great place to start a national political career, and both Mitt and Ann miss Boston. And while many reports indicate that Romney is interested in running for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he hasn't decided what he will do. Since his wife, Ann, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the fall of 1998, Romney says that it depends largely on her health.

See also: Romney a hit with Utahns Deseret News 6Jul00 N2,1249,175017607,00.html By Lisa Riley Roche: Deseret News staff writer


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