Mitt Romney is the type we've all run into in our own communities, the man who's right there right away when there's need, but never first in line when praise and credit are being handed out. —Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican vice presidential candidate
On the same day Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan worked to express to "values voters" that it wouldn't hurt if they knew more about Mitt Romney's heart and character, conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck sought to also tell those stories — stories of Romney from those whose lives he's touched.
"I have been very hard on Mitt Romney," Beck said on his program. "He is a decent man. It doesn't mean that his policies are necessarily the ones that everybody in the world has to agree with, but he is a decent man."
Just as the testimonials of fellow LDS Church members David and Pat Oparowski and Pam Finlayson at the Republican National Convention gave voters a glimpse at a different side of Romney, Beck's show highlighted additional stories from the Nixon family, Reed Fisher, Ken Smith and Bryce Clark.
Mark and Sheryl Nixon, along with their sons Reed and Rob and their daughter Natalie, told of a car accident that left Reed and Rob quadriplegics. Although the Nixon family knew of Romney and Romney had served as their Mormon stake president, they weren't well acquainted.
Reed and Rob returned home from rehab in the late fall, near Christmas, Mark said. Around that time, Romney called and said he'd like to do something for the two boys. So Romney, his wife Ann, and three of their sons brought Christmas gifts to the family.
While Romney later offered to pay for Reed and Rob's entire college education, that Christmas eve visit stands out in Mark's mind, he said, because instead of vacationing in Utah, New England or the Caribbean, the Romney family was visiting the needy.
"That actually, to me, has been more important to me than the financial help he gave," Mark said.
"After the initial experience of showing up, he didn't check that off his list and say, 'I did my duty,'" Natalie added. "He has, year after year, shown up at 5K races to run the event and participate."
Reed Fisher, who encountered Romney after the San Diego wildfires in 2007, told of how Romney's son Matt volunteered to come dig a pine tree stump out of Fisher's lawn.
"I thought to myself, 'I'm not going to deny somebody the opportunity to help,' and I needed the help," Fisher told Beck. "So I said sure."
That day, Fisher arrived on the scene with breakfast burritos for the workers, only to find a big black suburban at the top of the street and then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the hole chopping and sawing at the tree stump.
"The thing that I'll always remember is that nobody had ever seen Mitt with his hair mussed up, but you have the pictures," Fisher told Beck.
Bryce Clark called Romney his mentor, saying he helped him through struggles with alcoholism and other issues. The advice Romney gave him, Clark said, was to stop thinking of himself as a bad person.
"He said, 'You're not measured by how many good things you do and how many bad things you do,'" Clark said. "He said, 'This is how we're measured: Are we trying to improve?' And he said, 'You being here tonight qualifies you as a saint.'"
"It's one of those things where someone gives you an hour of their time — and he had been there for me in my childhood — but it literally changed my life," Clark said.
Ken Smith, the former director of the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, also came on Beck's show to discuss what Buzzfeed called "a cringe worthy moment in 1994."
During the visit to the shelter, Smith said Romney first looked at the shelter's books for about 45 minutes and then took a tour of the facility. At the end of the tour, Romney asked what Smith's biggest problem was. Smith told him the shelter had problems paying for milk, and Romney replied, "Well Ken, maybe you can teach the vets to milk cows."41 comments on this story
The next day, Smith said, the newspapers were killing him for the remark, and Romney called Smith to apologize. The following day, the milkman showed up, offloaded his milk and gave Smith a bill that was half of its normal size. The same things happened for a month, two months, three months, and then for a full two years, Smith said. Finally, on the day the milkman was to retire, he told Smith that Romney had been paying for the milk.
"Romney's generosity has helped tens of thousands of veterans who are homeless, who have been through this facility, with nourishment," Smith said. "The milk cartons said the name of the milk company, it didn't say, 'donated by Mitt Romney.'"
Those are the types of stories Romney's being encouraged to share, Ryan said during his appearance at the Values Voter Summit in Washington Friday. But while the stories are emerging, they may never come from the candidate himself, he cautioned.
"Mitt Romney is the type we've all run into in our own communities, the man who's right there right away when there's need, but never first in line when praise and credit are being handed out," Ryan said. "He's the kind of person every community could use more of, and he'll be the kind of president who brings out the best in our country."