By Kevin Joseph Ryan
The evening before last week’s Republican Presidential Delegate Convention, Friday, June 18, delegates selected by GOP Committees throughout Vermont were invited down to Montpelier High School, the location of Saturday’s big event. The reason: to be wined and dined by the Mitt Romney for President Campaign. Or, at least chow down on some tasty spaghetti and meatballs and hear from supporters.
There should be little doubt that one of the campaign’s biggest supporters is Mitt’s eldest son, Tagg Romney, 42. Tagg drove up from Boston that night to meet with Republican delegates, to make the case of why they should support his father for President at the GOP National Convention in Florida in August. “We do better when more people finds out what he stands for.” Said Romney.
Tagg pointed out to the roughly sixty delegates and their families as they enjoyed their meal, that his father had very specific plans once settled into The White House in January. He spoke of plans to open the Keystone Pipeline, to ensure affordable energy for the people of the United States, to get folks back to work in all fifty states, and to focus on reducing small business regulation. He emphasized that his father had a commitment to smaller government and, referring to those reliant on government business subsidies, “He’s going to make a lot of (those) people angry.”
He told the dining delegates that before deciding to run for President in 2012, Mitt was asked by his wife, Ann, “Can you fix this?” referring to the current state of the economy. Tagg Romney said his mother previously did not want Mitt to run again. “My mother said she’d never do this again, but she said that after my delivery, and I have four brothers.” Romney said, smiling. Romney noted that in running against Obama, his father is used to challenges, seeing as Massachusetts only had 13% registered Republicans when his father won the Governor’s Office there.
Tagg wrapped up his pitch by relating a story that as a teenager, he’d gone rowing in Buzzard’s Bay, near a family home, when he realized he’d lost his anchor and drifted out. When he arrived home, he had to tell his father the bad news that the anchor had been lost at sea. While his dad was upset, Romney related, he said his father took him out to the ocean and the two of them performed a grid search until the anchor was located. Tagg said that incident taught him three things about the elder Romney. “Number one..” He said, “Dad is the cheapest person alive. Number two, he believes there is no problem to big to overcome and three, he cared enough about me to teach me the lesson.” Romney, of course believes this will translate to victory for his father in the Fall, even in Vermont.
“There are 37 great people running to go to Tampa,” Romney pointed out. He said that Vermonters are a tough breed, “Like this fellow right here,” indicating a man sitting at a table up front. “He took a 350 pound bear right out of the neighborhood (Governor) Shumlin calls home.”
Romney seemed to get a warm reception from those at the dinner, which should come as no surprise as the invited guests were a virtual who’s who of Vermont Republican politics. Former Governor Jim Douglas was in attendance, as was former State Representative Frank Mazur of South Burlington, National Committeeman George Schiavone of Shelburne, incoming National Committeeman Jay Shepard of Essex, Essex-Orleans Senator Vince Illuzzi, and former U.S. Senate Candidate Jack McMullen, among others.
Republican State Chairman Jack Lindey of Montpelier, newly chosen as of February, stood near Romney’s side. “We look forward to tying all the campaigns together this year,” said Lindley. “We look forward to focusing on jobs, taxes and creating real health reform… This is my one shot for the grandkids.” Lindley also played master of ceremonies for the evening, described by a Romney representative as “a sort of family picnic.” In addition to Romney and Lindley’s addresses to the group, Senator Randy Brock had comments that night. Facing a race for Governor himself in 2012, Brock lightheartedly told his fellow Republicans, “I think it will work out well for us… and besides, I don’t have anything else planned for the year.”