Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

Mitt Romney Woos Women (and Christians)

Mitt Romney Woos Women (and Christians)

Photograph via Flickr by NewsHour

He buried the lead.

Mitt Romney is . . . human?

Romney finally, finally, finally got us in touch with his Mormon side last night during the final evening of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. And to be honest, it was moving, touching, and real.

What?! Has Pinocchio turned into a real boy? Has Robo-Romney been sprinkled with fairy dust?

Problem is, that was at 8:30. It took another two hours—and a line of stale businessmen, politicians, and one mental actor—for Romney to formally accept the GOP’s presidential nomination. And by then much of the magical fairy dust had worn off the first-ever Mormon on a major party ticket.

I watched the RNC last night with my parents, two registered Republicans, albeit mostly one-issue pro-life voters. My dad’s a Baptist minister and my mom’s a public school teacher, so there’s also a funny dynamic between his conservatism and her stereotypically Democratic leanings as a unionized teacher. All in all, between my dad thinking that Mitt’s a flip-flopping cult member and my mom thinking that Mitt’s an education-cutter, they haven’t been thrilled with the pro-life party’s candidate this election.

Last night, perhaps for the first time, Mitt had them at “hello,” or at least when his old friends from a Church of Latter Day Saints in Massachusetts took the stage and said “hello” with a number of heart-warming, and totally believable, stories about “Pastor Mitt’s” work in the church and his respect for women and mothers such as his wife Ann.

[pullquote_right]My mom started crying as they told how Romney helped their dying son write his will.[/pullquote_right]

“Without saying God they’re saying God a lot,” my mom noted. “They’re trying to bridge the gap between Mormonism and Protestantism.”

A church assistant, Grant Bennett—who looked about as Mormon as Mormons come—told delegates that Romney had “a listening ear and a helping hand” and devoted as many as 20 hours a week at his own expense.

“When you’re that rich, you can,” my dad quipped.

Then Ted and Pat Oparowski, two adorable old and overweight New Hampshire Mormons with white hair and failing eyes, rocked the stage from Tampa to the small town in Connecticut where I sat with my parents. My mom started crying as they told how Romney helped their dying son write his will. My mom started crying again when another church member, Pam Finlayson, told how “Pastor Mitt” helped her fold laundry, brought over Thanksgiving dinner, and visited her in the hospital when her prematurely born daughter died.

The speakers didn’t try to say that Mormonism is the same as Christianity, which is important, because that would have turned off Christians like my dad. The speakers merely tried to give us a glimpse of Mitt’s less-calculating side, which the former financial asset manager has so far failed to see as an asset.

I asked my mom, Does this help Mitt win over the women vote? “Oh my gosh, yes,” she said with red eyes.

And then the convention came back to Earth. After Joseph Smith’s people briefly showed us a glimpse of an otherworldly Mitt Romney who is compassionate and lovingly overextends himself, we returned to a stale speech from Staples CEO Tom Stemberg, a politically polished introduction from Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and a performance from Mad-Dog Clint Eastwood that hardly mentioned the name “Romney” and arguably stole the show for its oddity (The Daily Beast headlined its news roundup this morning, “The Creepiness of Crazy Clint”).

These were the prime-time speeches, meaning that only the few million people such as me and my parents who bothered to tune in early, actually caught a glimpse of the real Mitt Romney. His own speech was predictably stale, awkward, insincere, and forced, though my parents and I agreed that perhaps to a lesser degree than in the past, because this time he spoke more about his wife and children.

“He’s raised up a couple of notches in my mind,” my mom said afterward. “Anybody my age relates to what he said about having children. No matter how crazy it was to raise kids, what we wouldn’t do to have them all home again. He’s never attracted me personality wise. I’ve never seen sincerity from him before. Tonight I saw sincerity.”

I wonder if that’s what most people got to see.