Mitt Romney: Insider Takes
Women who held senior roles in his Administration speak up
Seven women who worked closely with Mitt Romney in senior posts when he served as Massachusetts Governor recently got together for a special reunion. It was a true joy to reconnect with a group of such diverse and talented professionals. We proudly served for four years in the Romney/Healey Administration, handed detailed transition books to our successors in early 2007, and went off in different directions. But we have stayed in touch. And as we recall how much the Governor accomplished during his term of service, we can't help but remember how much we contributed in our own areas of expertise and in our own unique ways to the businesses and workers of Massachusetts -- and how we each helped Mitt Romney to turn our economy around.
The first tape in the attached series: “Our view of Mitt Romney” led to several more hours of unrehearsed testimonials. We were all so frustrated by media stories that just didn’t come close to depicting the fair-minded man and decisive leader that we knew. So, we wanted to go on the record with some professional recollections as well as our own more personal stories. These stories, along with many others, can be seen here:
Mitt Romney hired more women in his cabinet than any other governor in the country and he also turned around the economy of Massachusetts. After inheriting a $3 billion budget deficit and rising unemployment, he ended his term in office four years later with a $2 billion surplus and unemployment at 4.7%. That is a record to be proud of.
Here’s a heads-up to all the folks who will work for him when he serves as President: you will be tested to the limits of your imagination and energy. He demands nothing less than the highest ethical standards and more data than you will ever care to compile, analyze, report and defend. He delegated to his cabinet and senior staff the 100 promises he made to the people who elected him in 2002, and he will do the same to those who will work with him in 2013. We kept all 100 in Massachusetts and we hope that we can help advise you in Washington how to help keep the new ones -- starting on the first day of his Administration.
How We Ended Up In the Cabinet
Ellen Roy Herzfelder
I was working in business and a registered independent. I tuned into the election because I wanted to know more about the man who had turned around the Olympics and had decided to run for governor of our state. The more I heard about Mitt Romney, the more I liked what I heard. Before long, I attended a “Business Women for Romney” Event, where Mitt spoke; he offered a different path out of our state’s current budget crisis: “let’s not raise taxes. Let’s do things better. “ Born and raised in “Taxachusetts”, I was accustomed to our politicians pushing through tax increases. This was different.
Mitt Romney’s vision excited me. I signed up for all the Business Women for Romney Events; told my friends, voted for him. When Mitt won the election, he went looking for untraditional talent to come into government. He asked me to run the Environmental Secretariat. I said yes.
Our first task was to close a $3 billion deficit. I spent many hours with Governor Romney in long, arduous budget meetings. It was a real challenge so we had lots of conversations and debate. He kept asking: “Is this the best decision we can make? Is there something else we should be thinking about? How does this affect the people of Massachusetts?”
In those long hours of wrangling, I saw up close and personal, how Mitt has a head for numbers but he leads with his heart. He worked tirelessly to come up with more effective ways to manage, such as merging departments where it made sense (one unified park system instead of two separate entities that always competed with each other for funding). He didn’t take a salary himself – in part because he understood that the budget cuts need to start at the top, but also because he knew that he was in charge of “other people’s money”, our money.
Some people think that because he knows numbers, he doesn’t care about people, but that just isn’t true. Everything that I observed in working with him, convinced me that he puts people first. If he becomes president, I believe that he will wrestle with our country’s biggest challenges in the same way he did when he was governor – he will ask how these important decisions affect the lives of all Americans.
I was working for a Massachusetts company that was being acquired by a Canadian bank, and had been a registered Independent and Republican in places where Republicans were always in the minority: Amherst, New Haven, Washington, Chicago, New York, and Boston. So I had developed a thick skin and practical approach to getting things done. A sense of humor has always helped, too. But, as a woman who had just survived the 9/11 World Trade Center terror attacks and was about to lose her job, I cared absolutely nothing about political affiliations and partisan bickering. Today still, I have no interest in superficial labels and find nothing funny about gridlock. Like most Americans, I want strong leadership and a vibrant vision, security and safety for my family and my country, job growth, and no-nonsense problem-solving. That is what I saw in Mitt Romney in 2002 and what I see even more clearly in 2012.
I initially went to work as the Governor's chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs. At that time, the Massachusetts economy was in recession. State revenues had collapsed by about 15%. We faced a $3 billion budget shortfall and were losing thousands of jobs a month. Governor Romney went to work. He turned the deficit into a surplus, got people working again, and balanced the budget every year without borrowing or raising taxes.
I quickly learned what the people of the Salt Lake Olympics did about Mitt Romney: he is a fixer and you don’t know how much you need him until he starts to tackle your problems. First of all, when he is in charge, he accepts that all the problems are his. The buck stops with him and he counts every penny. He is a real leader who keeps the mission in mind, and delegates important tasks to skilled people to help him get the job done. Then, and throughout his term, he was able to work with a legislature that was more than 85% Democratic by, as he once politely put it, appealing to their good sense, logic and public spirit. He never wasted time whining, finger-pointing or wringing his hands. He walked across the aisle to meet with legislative leaders many, many times and never slammed a door shut.
As someone who worked for Mitt Romney for four years in several capacities, I saw how many problems he solved directly or, using something akin to the power of compound interest, by empowering others. Just some of the women he empowered volunteered to appear in these videos to offer our insight. We can all tell you that Mitt Romney's kind of willpower and optimism is infectious. It worked for us in Massachusetts and it will work for our country.
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