Mitt Romney’s new strategy of sharing sad, humanizing tales on the campaign trail has been well received, so he decided to take a chance on a story about his run-in with one of the former Navy SEALs who was killed in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. Romney met Glen Doherty several years ago, when he and Ann accidentally showed up at the wrong neighborhood Christmas party. ‘‘You can imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11,’’ Romney said in Iowa yesterday. ‘‘It touched me obviously as I recognized this young man that I thought was so impressive had lost his life in his service of his fellow men and women.’’ Romney told the story two more times, but now he’s been forced to pull it from his stump speech after Doherty’s mother complained that he was politicizing her son’s death.
While Romney mainly praised Doherty’s heroism, noting that he and his colleagues headed toward the consulate when they learned it was under attack, he also turned the story into a metaphor about Republicans taking back the White House. ‘‘They went there. They didn’t hunker down where they were in safety. They rushed there to go help,’’ Romney said, according to Reuters. ‘‘This is the American way. We go where there’s trouble. We go where we’re needed. And right now we are needed. Right now the American people need us.’’
Doherty’s mother wasn’t pleased about the reference. Barbara Doherty told 7News in Boston, “I don’t trust Romney. He shouldn’t make my son’s death part of his political agenda. It’s wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama.” A campaign spokeswoman says Romney will stop telling the story out of respect to Doherty’s mother, though the whole family doesn’t share her belief that he was exploiting the former SEAL. On CNN’s OutFront, Kate Quigley, Doherty’s sister, said her mother “is angry, and she’s grieving.” “He called him a hero and we’re honored by that. And we’re honored by what Obama did for the homecoming,” Quigley added. “The fact of the matter is being an American hero can be completely bipartisan and everybody wants to point fingers and play the blame game — let’s blame the terrorists.”