Mitt Romney wears many hats in life: Republican nominee for the 2012 Presidential election, former Massachusetts Governor, wealthy businessman, husband to Ann.
But to Tagg Romney, Mitt’s eldest son, he's something else.
“To me – he’s just dad, and I love him," Tagg Romney said. "He’s a great man and someone you’ll be proud of.”
That was the message Tagg delivered to more than 600 Republicans and Tea Party members during a speech Monday night at the Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township, where he was the keynote speaker during the 10th Congressional District’s annual Ronald Reagan dinner.
Tagg touted his father's character while insisting Mitt Romney was not giving up in Michigan.
"Michigan has been good to us. We’re not giving up here,” he said.
Tagg told the crowded room that he left behind his wife and six children, with the youngest being four-month-old twin boys, and his small investment business in Boston to tell the country deeply personal stories about who his father really is.
“In the next few weeks, the Democrats will paint him (Mitt Romney) as a bad man and an uncaring business man,” said Tagg, who told Patch that his father was talking about campaign strategy in a video leaked from a private fundraiser when he said 47 percent of the population was “dependent on the government.”
“But I am here to tell you some stories and let you see my father through my eyes.”
The Anchor and the Rowboat
Tagg told the audience a story from his rebellious teenage years and the way his father handled him, instead of a scolding—which he admitted would have been well deserved—his father left a party at the home to teach his son a very valuable lesson.
The story goes something like this. One day, when Tagg was about 17 years old and his family had company over at their Cape Cod home, he decided to go fishing in a small rowboat.
Once Tagg found the right spot, he threw out his anchor and proceeded to catch several fish. When it was time to return home, Tagg noticed he had drifted very far and the anchor he threw overboard was not tied to the front of the boat. He said thankfully, he was in a bay and had rowed himself to shore.
When Tagg returned home, he casually mentioned to his father that he had lost the anchor.
“My dad said, ‘Well, go back and get it,’” said Tagg, who admitted that his response was very disrespectful and full of teenage influence. “That’s just stupid. You go back and get it,” he had fired back.
Mitt Romney left the company at his home and told his son that they would look for the anchor together. The two got into the boat and Mitt showed his son how to do a grid search. Within 45 minutes they found the anchor at the bottom of the ocean and retrieved it.
Tagg said from that day forth, he learned two valuable lessons about his father. One, “my father is the cheapest man alive,” he said, laughing because the anchor was only worth about $12.
But the second and most important lesson he learned was that his father took the incident as an opportunity to teach his son that you don’t give up when times are hard and a task seems impossible.
Tagg told the crowd several other stories about his father that demonstrated his character, such as the time when he stood by a dying teenage boy’s side until the end of his death and honored his wishes by writing the teen’s will.
“He’s so generous with his time and to people who are less fortunate,” said Tagg.
Macomb Township resident Laura Davis told Patch that after hearing Tagg’s speech they were more convinced than ever that Mitt Romney is the right choice for America.
“There is a lot of great character in that family and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” said Davis.
Julie Garon of Washington Township said she came to the dinner in hopes that Tagg could humanize the presidential nominee. She said her one piece of advice for Mitt Romney would be, “Don’t be like McCain. Be more passionate.”
Michigan is My Father’s Home
The Romneys say they are passionate about the state of Michigan, where Tagg’s grandfather, George Romney, was governor from 1963 to 1969.
“Michigan is where we spent Christmas and our summers. This for my mom and dad, this is home,” said Tagg, noting that his cousin George Romney, a Northville resident, was in the crowd.
President Barack Obama's Michigan campaign spokesman Matt McGrath released a statement Monday evening stating that Mitt Romney does not support Detroit.
"What’s amazing is that Governor Romney’s just-released 2011 tax returns confirm that he himself pays a lower tax rate than many middle-class families thanks to complex loopholes and tax shelters only available to those at the top. With this record, as well as his call to ‘let Detroit go bankrupt,’ it’s no wonder Michiganders are rejecting his candidacy, and for good reason,” said McGrath.
But Tagg Romney said the upcoming election is critical to the country’s success, and he believes his father’s economic plan will create 12 million jobs in the next four years and empower all Americans to achieve great success.
This is an election year where the visions of the two candidates could not be any more different, he said.
“Obama is talking about raising taxes and bringing us closer to a welfare state. My dad is talking about cutting taxes for everyone.”
Master of ceremonies, Congresswoman Candice Miller, told the crowd that if you’ve been lamenting the past three years, “You all know what you need to do.”