Romney shows softer side in Florida

GOP nominee shares stories of deaths that impacted

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CNN) - In a speech to another approving audience on what has become a post-debate victory tour, a contemplative Mitt Romney shared some of his personal side with Florida voters Friday night.
The GOP nominee, who was joined by his wife Ann, told an audience of several thousand supporters about the deaths of three Americans who had made a lasting impact on him.

Romney recounted having recently seen an old friend from graduate school, Bill Hulse, who had been quadriplegic since suffering an accident. Hulse approached Romney at a campaign event last month.

"It's not easy for Billy to get around. Quadriplegic...he can't move, of course, his arms and his legs, and he can barely speak," Romney said. "I reached down and I put my hand on Billy's shoulder and I whispered into his ear, and I said 'Billy, God bless you, I love ya.' And he whispered right back to me -- and I couldn't quite hear what he said. He tried to speak loud enough for me to hear."

"He died the next day," Romney continued, adding that Hulse had championed spinal injury research and was "a great man" with admirable spirit.

The former Massachusetts governor also spoke about a 14-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with leukemia and whom he had counseled in his role in the Mormon church. The boy, David Oparowski, asked "Brother Romney" to help him write his will.

"So I went to David's bedside and got a piece of legal paper, made it look very official. And then David proceeded to tell me what he wanted to give his friends. Talked about his fishing rod, and who would get that. He talked about his skateboard, who'd get that. And his rifle, that went to his brother," Romney said. "I've seen the character of a young man like David, who wasn't emotional or crying. He had his eyes wide open."

After Oparowski's death, Romney delivered the eulogy at the funeral.

Romney also quoted a line popularized by the television show "Friday Night Lights:" "There's a saying, clear eyes, full heart, can't lose," he said.

He finished his foray into the personal by recounting a meeting with the widow of a military sharpshooter. When "some very misguided people" protested at her husband's funeral, Romney quoted the woman as saying her husband had "died for them to be able to protest."

"This is quite a nation we live in, with some extraordinary people," Romney said.

During his visit to St. Petersburg, Romney made no mention of Friday's unemployment numbers, which for the first time in years dipped below 8%.

He did, however, spend a chunk of his speech recapping Wednesday's presidential debate.

And Romney made a joking reference to a theory circulating on the Internet about whether the Republican candidate had taken notes into the debate (the campaign said the hubbub was over a handkerchief).

As he began to describe his five-point plan for turning around the economy, Romney quipped: "I don't have to look at notes to know what they are, by the way. I know what they are."

Copyright 2012 by CNN NewSource. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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