Supporters seek to define the real Mitt Romney
(CBS News) Mitt Romney is now almost certain to be the Republican presidential nominee. But as he marches ever closer to the Republican nomination for president, the question "Who is the real Mitt Romney?" has begun to take root.
So Romney's supporters are trying to flesh out the former Massachusetts governor's public image.
To his detractors, Romney is seen as a plastic man, the perfectly-starched symbol of the one percent. On the campaign trail, he's often played into that portrait, opening the door for opponents to charge he's incapable of connecting with average Americans, saying things like, "Ann (Romney's wife) has a couple of Cadillacs" and "I'll make you a ten thousand dollar bet."
In response, the campaign is working hard to highlight a more personal side. Just Tuesday, it released a a video highlighting the hopeful's family.
And now, independent of the campaign, a new chapter in Jeff Benedict's book, "The Mormon Way of Doing Business," adds fresh color, featuring rare interviews with former business partners and a story based on the stump of a tree.
(Scroll down to watch an interview with Jeff Benedict.)
That story begins in the aftermath of the wildfires that engulfed San Diego in the fall of 2007, consuming dozens of homes in Reed Fisher's neighborhood and nearly his own.
Fisher told CBS News the fire did burn a hole through a fence and caught the corner of his house.
While the house was being repaired Fisher got a call from a fellow Mormon, one of his son's friends, offering help. It was Matt Romney, one of Mitt Romney's five sons.
When asked what he said, Fisher said, "We would like to come help. We would like to come do something. And I said, 'Matt, I wish you could, but almost everything has been cleaned up.' But he pressed me, and I said, 'Well, there is this one thing. And I don't know if the insurance is going to cover it. There is a big tree stump in my front yard. They took the tree down, the tree was torched in the fire. But the stump was still there.' So Matt insisted, he said, 'We would like to bring a couple of guys and do some service at your house.'"
On that day, Fisher said he ran out to get some breakfast for the volunteers. Fisher said, "As I drove down to my house, there are four men working in the hole there, ... and one of them is running for President of the United States of America."
That man was Romney. When his son told him about the service project, he had asked if he could help.
"He had dirt under his fingernails," Fisher said. "He was the first one down the hole. He's the first one with the power saw. He's doing the hardest work of any of us."
And as Fisher made clear, not a single reporter was in sight.
"This wasn't a publicity event," Fisher said. "In fact, when they grew up as boys there was occasions where their dad...would get them up and they would go do a service project for someone."
Dave Checketts, former chief executive officer of Madison Square Garden, is a powerful leader in the Mormon Church. He's known Romney since the 1980s when he was hired by him at the consulting firm, Bain & Company. He says Romney's reluctance to tout his good works comes from the root teachings of the church.
Checketts said, "He has a loving heart - a very understanding, loving heart. He hasn't spoken about it because then somehow it comes across that you're trying to use it to create an advantage for yourself and nothing could be further from the truth."
(Jeff Benedict, author of "The Mormon Way of Doing Business," discussed Romney on "CBS This Morning." Watch his full interview and discussion with Keteyian and the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts in the video below.)
More revealing reporting in the book centers around the near-collapse of Bain & Co. in 1991 - and showcases Romney's management style.
Checketts said, "His ego is not so large that he think he has all of the answers. So he was very careful to listen to those around him, to enlist their help, and then to make them part of the solution."
Another powerful story deals with the time, in 1996, when the 14-year-old daughter of a Bain partner disappeared after a party. When Romney found out, he shut down the Boston office, set up a command center in New York, mobilized Wall Street, and enlisted the help of local TV stations, leading to discovery of the girl. It's a story he has only recently begun to talk about on the campaign trail.
Tuesday on "CBS This Morning," Benedict, author of the book, "The Mormon Way of Doing Business" said it's amazing that these stories haven't come out. "The big question is who is he, what's behind the front. And these stories show case what Mitt Romney's really about. A guy who takes six hours off on a campaign trail to dig out someone's stump who he doesn't know and will probably never see again and gets dirty and there are no reporters there."
Benedict, a Romney supporter, said Romney is comfortable with his story, despite what critics say about his lack of authenticity. "The thing is he just doesn't tell that story very often," Benedict said. "These incidents are really good portals into what this guy is about when he's not in front of a camera. I think you learn a lot about a man when you say, 'what is he's doing when no one's looking, when he doesn't have to do anything. What does he do with his time? What this guy is usually doing is serving other people. He's been doing that long before he was a candidate."
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