A Bay Area woman helped humanize Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney with a speech tonight from the podium of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Pam Finlayson, 54, of Alamo, recounted how Romney – then a Mormon lay pastor in Massachusetts – helped her and husband, Grant, through tough times when their daughter was born prematurely.
“When the world looks at Mitt Romney, they see him as the founder of a successful business, the leader of the Olympics, or a Governor. When I see Mitt, I know him to be a loving father, man of faith and caring and compassionate friend,” she said. “It is with great excitement and a renewed hope, to know that our country will be blessed as it is led by a man who is not only so accomplished and capable, but who has devoted his entire life quietly serving others.”
UPDATE @ 6:35 P.M.: Here’s a video posted in 2010 as a tribute to Kate Finlayson, the daughter of whom Pam Finlayson spoke tonight.
Finlayson and her husband are registered to vote without party affiliation. They contributed $5,000 to Romney’s campaign in April.
C-SPAN has video of Finlayson’s speech, or follow after the jump to read her complete remarks as prepared.
In 1982, my husband Grant and I moved from California to Massachusetts, with our newborn son.
Being a church-going family, we looked for the nearest chapel and soon found ourselves in a congregation led by a clearly bright and capable man, named Mitt Romney.
I knew Mitt was special from the start.
We didn’t own a dryer, and the day he stopped by to welcome us, I was embarrassed to have laundry hanging all over the house. Mitt wasn’t fazed.
In fact, as we spoke, without a word, he joined me and started helpfully plucking clothes from around the room and folding them.
By the time Mitt left, not only did I feel welcome, my laundry was done!
As Grant and I juggled school, jobs, church and family, we grew to love the Romneys.
They became role-models and friends, and we were honored when Mitt and Ann regularly trusted us to stay with their five rambunctious – but very loving – sons when they traveled.
It was when our daughter Kate was born three and a half months early that I fully came to appreciate what a great treasure of friendship we had in Mitt and Ann.
Kate was so tiny and very sick.
Her lungs not yet ready to breathe, her heart unstable, and after suffering a severe brain hemorrhage at three days old, she was teetering on the very edge of life.
As I sat with her in intensive care, consumed with a mother’s worry and fear, dear Mitt came to visit and pray with me.
As our clergy, he was one of few visitors allowed.
I will never forget that when he looked down tenderly at my daughter, his eyes filled with tears, and he reached out gently and stroked her tiny back.
I could tell immediately that he didn’t just see a tangle of plastic and tubes; he saw our beautiful little girl, and he was clearly overcome with compassion for her.
During the many months Kate was hospitalized, the Romneys often cared for our two-year old son, Peter. They treated him like one of their own, even welcoming him to stay the night when needed.
When Thanksgiving rolled around, Kate was still struggling for life.
Brain surgery was scheduled, and the holiday was the furthest thing from our minds.
I opened my door to find Mitt and his boys, arms loaded with a Thanksgiving feast.
Of course we were overcome. When I called to thank Ann, she sweetly confessed it had been Mitt’s idea, that most of the cooking and chopping had been done by him.
She and the boys had just happily pitched in.
Eventually we moved from Boston. Our daughter Kate grew into an amazing girl of faith and love.
But complications of her birth remained with her, and after 26 years of both miracles and struggle, she passed away just a year and a half ago.
In the midst of making the final decision to run for President – which had to be the most difficult of their lives – when they heard of Kate’s passing, both Mitt and Ann paused, to personally reach out to extend us sympathy, and express their love.
It seems to me when it comes to loving our neighbor, we can talk about it, or we can live it.
The Romney’s live it every single day.
When the world looks at Mitt Romney, they see him as the founder of a successful business, the leader of the Olympics, or a Governor.
When I see Mitt, I know him to be a loving father, man of faith and caring and compassionate friend.
It is with great excitement and a renewed hope, to know that our country will be blessed as it is led by a man who is not only so accomplished and capable, but who has devoted his entire life quietly serving others.
That man is Mitt Romney.