In the great American horse race between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the incumbent, and his Democratic Party, have tried to paint the challenger as a flint hearted, cold unfeeling man out of touch with ordinary folks.

They are right about Romney not being an ordinary man.

He is an extraordinary man.

Media celebrity Glenn Beck is a fellow Mormon but has hardly been kind to the Governor or many other politicians.

However in a volte-face Beck’s researchers uncovered an amazing story, one of many, about Mitt.

It was when Romney was campaigning in Massachusetts against Senator Ted Kennedy, some two decades ago, that he learned that a well run Veterans hospital badly needed milk (and Mitt being a business man checked to see that they were efficient in a business sense).

However, being a bit gauche politically, Mitt quipped at the time that they should learn to milk a cow!

He later did two things: first, he privately apologised the next day for his flippant remark but then did something more significant. He arranged secretly with the local dairy company to provide enough milk-not just for a few weeks but for the next two years!

The Veterans hospital tried to find out where the milk was coming from and who their benefactor was. It was only when the milkman retired that he spilled the beans… milk… that it was Mitt who was bankrolling the hospital’s milk supplies.

As a lover of comics as a kid I always though mild mannered reporter Clark Kent was Superman. Wrong.

Superman it appears is mild mannered business man, turned politico, Mitt Romney.

In 1996 a business partner of Romney’s at Bain Capital, Robert Gay, was distraught over the disappearance of his 14yo daughter after attending a party in New York City and had not been sighted for 3 days afterwards.

Romney took immediate action. He closed down the entire firm and asked all 30 partners to fly to NYC and help find Gay’s daughter. He literally had executives tramping the streets.

Toll-free numbers were set up, the city plastered with posters, co-ordination with the NYPD was established, fliers put in the bags of shoppers and approaches made to everyone they could, including from the seedier side of life in the Big Apple.

Television stations picked up on the story and a tip off ultimately came resulting in the NYPD recovering the girl from a basement in New Jersey, shivering and experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a massive ecstasy overdose.

Gay has never forgotten Romney’s actions but apart from the obvious humanitarian aspects it shows another side to Romney, namely, when confronted with problems he is able to take swift and decisive action, a warrior consultant riding in to save the day in the best traditions of Hopalong Cassidy.

For over 30 years kids around the world looked up to the decency of William Boyd as Hoppy and the values he espoused, in life as well as the screen, after taking the Cassidy role which he played in 66 movies and countless stage, radio and television shows.

Mitt, like this writer, would remember Hoppy with affection and clearly he has learned well from the iconic urbane cowboy.

Perhaps it was an omen that Cassidy Cowboy won the first race at Ascot on Saturday, November 3.

Certainly Romney has a long history of winning acts of kindness.

When 14yo David Oparowski was dying back in 1979 he was comforted frequently by Romney and his son Tagg, and Mitt even helped the young boy write his will so he could leave his prize possessions to his friends and family.

Romney was a frequent bedside visitor to David in the mornings so as not to intrude on family time.

His father Ted Oparowski perhaps summed it up best: “You cannot measure a man’s character based on words he utters before adoring crowds during happy times. The true measure of a man is revealed in his actions during times of trouble, the quiet hospital room of a dying boy, with no cameras and no reporters-that is the time to make an assessment.”

That is something that Joe and Gloria Banks of Merredin could identify with. They lost their 14yo son to cancer and on one occasion the Labor Premier of Western Australia, John Tonkin (1971-74), paid an official visit to the hospital where young Doug Banks was receiving treatment.

When Joe approached the veteran politician (who had lost his first wife and daughter to cancer) he asked whether the Premier could perhaps spare a few minutes with his son.

The man known affectionately as ‘Super Tonk’ never hesitated. The official function was put on hold as Premier Tonkin spent a considerable amount of time talking to young Doug. (Tonkin, like Ronald Reagan, had come to his highest job at the age of 69).

The integrity factor may just be the thing that gets Romney home on Tuesday (Wednesday our time).

On Friday, November 2, Obama was roaring at his supporters not to boo Romney but to get their revenge by voting.

Romney simply replied that people should vote for love of country, not out of revenge.

It was a telling contrast between the two rivals. John Elsegood

4 November 2012