On Tuesday night, my old boss Governor Mitt Romney showed his credentials to the world once again. He is the real deal: a gentleman, a grown-up, strong, forthright, energetic, in command of the facts, pragmatic and solution-driven. I didn't come out of one of the "binders" he mentioned, but like every member of his Cabinet in Massachusetts, I gave him a binder –- six inches thick and chock full of our accomplishments over the four years we worked together. I was just one of many women who had the honor of serving in the Romney Administration. But I was fortunate enough to be in his executive office, in his Cabinet and also his appointee on the board of a public authority. So I know him well enough to shout across all the rooftops that he is a once-in-a century leader and one that we must have right now.
Oct. 17, 2012 - Leesburg, Virginia, U.S. - Republican faithful gather to hear Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney speak at a campaign rally in Leesburg , Virginia on Wednesday. (Credit Image: © Pete Marovich/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Mitt Romney is a can-do, will-do guy and anyone who is disgusted by political gridlock and personally affected by unemployment, over-regulation and the incessant talk of tax hikes needs to get out the vote for him on November 6th. In Massachusetts, I joined a team of professionals, including his remarkable lieutenant governor, Kerry Murphy Healey, nine other women in his cabinet and four of his most senior advisers, who shared or aspired to his standards and offered our private sector experience as a public service. We signed up to help make some sorely needed improvements in the finances and operations of Massachusetts government and the state’s economy and he chose us because we would and we did. None of us planned to stay in government. We were not naïve, nor were we ideologues. None of us expected the Governor to solve any of our personal problems or give us anything. We did not believe in fairy tales; we believed in hard work. We all wanted to help him to get the people in our state working again, and then go back to our lives.
When he returned to Massachusetts after the 2002 Olympic games and decided to run for office, I was just one of many who were drawn to his vision and his plan. He was a winner at a time when we were losing jobs. His opponent was a woman who grew up in the town next to me and graduated in my class at Yale, and I had every reason to support her. But I am a survivor of the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center. The most important issue to me is the safety of those I love and my country. I consider it a luxury to be able to debate federal support for student loans and renewable energy, and who should pay for our contraceptives. But, believe me, when terrorists rain fire on your home and kill thousands of your co-workers and neighbors, you do not place such issues at the top of your priority list. If we are not secure, nothing else matters. If we do not have a president who believes in the special mission of America, if we do not have a leader who shows the mortal enemies in this world our resolve, we have nothing else to discuss. America is exceptional, and we need an exceptional leader: Mitt Romney.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Massachusetts needed firm leadership and not an idol or a fourth generation backslapping politician trained to dole out jobs and insert earmarks. We needed someone who rolled up his sleeves and went to work for us every day. We were lucky to get Mitt Romney. Today as well, we know exactly what we need: someone who has experience turning failed, troubled and mismanaged enterprises around. Someone who owes nothing to special interests. Someone who has zero tolerance for no-show jobs and those who constantly blame others for their failures. Someone with no time for obstructionists and fence-sitters.
Mitt Romney is listening to what citizens in every corner are saying, so he has a long checklist of things that needs to be changed, corrected, and improved. In Massachusetts, we all had a list of his priorities from 2002, his campaign promises, and he held his senior staff and appointees responsible and accountable for keeping them. Today, our country and the free world need Mitt Romney because we have a very long list of things to do and no time to waste. He is comfortable enough with his skills and achievements and the love of his family that he does not need to be idolized by anyone. He does not mince words or pussyfoot around, so he will use the words terrorism and terrorist whenever they apply. Mitt Romney will never refer to suicidal Islamic militants as a “sorry band of men” or the murder of our ambassador as a “bump in the road.” He will never apologize for America, and the sacrifices we have made and continue to make for freedom.
I’ve spent years on Capitol Hill and Wall Street, so I know something about ego and arrogance, celebrity cults and power trips. Mitt Romney is the most ethical, fair-minded and hard-working family man you will find. He eats his lunch at his desk and says thank you. When the workday is over, he rushes home to his wife. Here’s a guy whose mind races with concrete ideas and solutions, but he appreciates those who work at other speeds too. He understands that each of us makes a unique contribution to the world, and I have watched him try to discover what it was in many people -- my own sister included. She was in a day program for adults with developmental and physical disabilities, and Mitt Romney went to sit with her and her friends. He talked with each of them and treated them like they were all visiting heads of state. He posed for photos so that they could show their families what a special day they had advising the Governor. I could see that he took joy from that time and I still do.
I sat with Governor Romney on a regular basis when he made time to reach out to many special people away from the camera. He asked to set aside some time each week so that he could call and offer his personal congratulations to some of our most extraordinary citizens: veterans, police officers and firefighters, centenarians, athletes, young entrepreneurs, and selfless advocates for others. Before his term ended, he also made time for all those who worked for him. He had asked each of his Cabinet members to produce a comprehensive report that he could hand to his successor to ensure a smooth and professional transition. When my time came, he thanked me for my sacrifice, the long hours, low pay, and many frustrations we experienced in trying to fix outdated and broken systems. He also asked if there was anything he could do for me. I told him that he already had done something – he inspired me to start my own business, and so I did. So did several others.
Six of the ten women who served in his cabinet in Massachusetts along with his executive assistant got together recently to talk about Mitt Romney in a video that will soon be out on gettoknowmitt.com. We are friends, all busy in academia and financial services, and with our families and communities, but have a standing offer to do anything we can for him, together or individually, since we were honored to work in his Administration and accomplished so much together. Renee Fry, Deb Shufrin, Ellen Herzfelder, Jane Edmonds, Beth Lindstrom, Natalie Crate and I talked for more than two hours listing example after example of Mitt Romney’s leadership, compassion, and commitment, the smile that he always had on his face, the relentless interrogations we endured to inform his decision making, his personal kindness to each of us. How easily we worked together -- as women, with no need to mark territory or pound chests – and how successful we were because he trusted and empowered us to do the right thing.
Governor Romney showed more of his stuff this week, and the world got another glimpse of the man I know. He is someone of the highest integrity with gifts that include humor and grace, a leader who attracts talent and delegates with confidence, a motivator with high standards who gets things done, an American patriot. He’s the best boss I ever had, and the most demanding one. I can offer no higher praise than to say that I trust him with the welfare of my family, my business and our country.
Mitt Romney did not choose me to be on his team because I was a woman. And I’m not supporting him just because I am a woman. I’m also a Catholic for Mitt, I’m an Eli for Mitt, I'm a small business founder for Mitt, I’m a Polish American for Mitt, I am an American for Mitt.
Gayl Mileszko, former Massachusetts Secretary of Labor
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