Yesterday, while campaigning in Iowa, Mitt Romney told a story about a chance meeting he had several years ago with Glen Doherty, a former Navy Seal who originally came from Winchester, Massachusetts.
Except Romney didn’t use the man’s name. I was immediately struck by that last night when I saw video of Romney telling the story and supposedly getting choked up when he revealed how “heartbroken” he was when he learned that Doherty had been killed in the consulate attack in Libya. I figured Romney probably didn’t even remember the Doherty’s name.
The way Romney told the story was that he and Ann had been at their home in San Diego and had been invited to a neighborhood Christmas Party. They got the address wrong and ended up at a different party–at Glen Doherty’s home.
Romney said he and his wife, Ann, walked to the house, joined the other guests for dinner and pictures, then had an epiphany: “Turns out this wasn’t the neighborhood party,” Romney said, drawing laughs. “This was a family having a party with their friends. So we were a little embarrassed, but they treated us well nonetheless, and I got to meet some really interesting people.”
“One of them was a guy from my home state of Massachusetts,” Romney continued, referring to Doherty, “a relatively young guy, compared to me. He was a former Navy SEAL. He was living in San Diego. Learned about him, he talked about his life, he also skied a lot. He’d skied in some of the places I had, and we had a lot of things in common. He told me he keeps going back to the Middle East. He cares very deeply about the people there. He served in the military there, went back from time to time to offer security services and so forth to people there.”
And then the “punch line”:
“You can imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11,….And it touched me, obviously, as I recognized that this young man that I thought was so impressive had lost his life in the service of his fellow men and women.”
The audience oohed and ahhed. Here’s the video:
As usual, the real story is a little different than one Romney has been telling recently in hopes of appearing more compassionate and empathetic. One of Glen Doherty’s close friends, Elf Ellefsen heard about the party in question directly from Doherty. Ellefsen told his version of the story on a radio show on KIRO FM in Seattle.
Ellefsen said Doherty recalled meeting Mitt Romney years ago, but the account was much different from what the Presidential candidate retold in Iowa.
According to Ellefsen, Romney introduced himself to Doherty four separate times during the gathering.
“He said it was very comical,” Ellefsen said, “Mitt Romney approached him ultimately four times, using this private gathering as a political venture to further his image. He kept introducing himself as Mitt Romney, a political figure. The same introduction, the same opening line. Glen believed it to be very insincere and stale.”
Ellefsen said Doherty remembered Romney as robotic.
“He said it was pathetic and comical to have the same person come up to you within only a half hour, have this person reintroduce himself to you, having absolutely no idea whatsoever that he just did this 20 minutes ago, and did not even recognize Glen’s face.”
In response to a question, Ellefsen said he didn’t care for Romney exploiting his friend’s life and death for political reasons.
“Honestly it does make me sick. Glen would definitely not approve of it. He probably wouldn’t do much about it. He probably wouldn’t say a whole lot about it. I think Glen would feel, more than anything, almost embarrassed for Romney. I think he would feel pity for him.”
Back in Massachusetts, Romney was chided by Barbara Doherty, Glen Doherty’s mother, who told Boston NBC affiliate WHDH:
“I don’t trust Romney. He shouldn’t make my son’s death part of his political agenda. It’s wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama,” said Barbara Doherty, Glen’s mother.