I knew that our partner at MittTheMan.com, Dane McBride, was going to be at the Republican National Convention. When you know someone who is at a place where there are television cameras, it is quite natural to watch and wonder, as I did, “Will I see Dane?” The voice of reason then kicks in, “No way, José! Not with that many people there!”
Yet, as my wife and I watched Mitt walk down the aisle to give his acceptance speech, I thought I saw a familiar face. Since we were watching on the DVR, I was able to back it up again to make sure what I saw is what I thought I saw. Have a look at the video and watch Mitt’s face during the slow-motion part:
For sure, there was our good friend, Dane, standing (as Dane later told me) on the Virginia governor’s chair! As he leaned over several people to shake Mitt’s hand, you can see Mitt’s face light up as he says his old friend’s name, “DANE!” with great expression. Mitt then points in acknowledgment to something Dane said and laughs, responding to a very simple joke that goes back 44 years to the time they worked together at the mission headquarters in France.
Each time I watch the video I can’t help reflect on the changes that life has brought over the past 46 years, since the time when we were in France as young twenty-something missionaries. All of our paths have crossed a few times, but for Dane, the interaction has been more frequent, with various anecdotes captured in stories such as this recent one from a Virginia newspaper.They had worked together at the mission headquarters in Paris where they had many formative experiences and some fun ones as well, such as represented in the above picture. Mitt, Dane, and others pulled the skit together to help put a tragic event and challenging times behind them.
A challenge of lesser magnitude had also arisen in roughly that same time frame, which Dane recounted to Boston Globe writers working on Romney Revealed (Michael Kranish and Scott Helman). We all knew that Mitt was madly in love with Ann when we were in France, so when she wrote she had dated another guy at BYU, Mitt’s anguish was extreme. Dane describes Mitt’s reaction to her letter, saying that ”was the only time I’ve
ever seen him where he couldn’t focus on anything else… He was just kind of worthless.”
As we all know, things worked out for Mitt and Ann, and Dane even had the opportunity to be a part of their wedding as shown in the photo on the right. Later they shared a close friendship at Brigham Young University (BYU) during the time they lived in the same apartment building and assembled meals from whatever ingredients happened to find themselves in their refrigerators.
Despite the friendship that has spanned the years, their closeness has taken a back seat to the situation in which Dane and Mitt now find themselves. As I watch the video of Mitt walking down that aisle to give his acceptance speech in Tampa, shaking hands and greeting as he went, I experience a certain pleasure and excitement as I see the joy fill Mitt’s face as he greets Dane. Also in my mind, I believe events could well have put Mitt in another place from where he might like to be. I know that if he were the selfish person some people accuse him of being, he would NOT be doing what he is doing!
As to why he is subjecting himself to all this, contrary to the opinion of some, I have no doubt that Mitt is running for president as a way of serving his country. Knowing him and seeing him in the middle of those thousands of people, I also have no doubt that if he could have it any other way, he had much rather be hanging out with his children, his grandkids, and friends like Dane.
As far as things go for Dane, he is doing more than his part. He collected signatures in the cold and rain of November to help get Mitt on the ballot in Virginia. He has also responded to more requests from the media than he wants to remember, as they have searched for insights into who Mitt is and what he has done in his life.
He has done more than that, however. Just two weeks ago, responding to a request from the Romney Campaign, Dane put together a fundraiser in Roanoke with only six days advance notice. He did that in addition to another event he was helping to organize that same night at Roanoke College. Not only was the fundraiser a success, but they raised $350,000 in one night, more than has ever happened in Roanoke, according to local GOP officials. And yes, Dane also paid the $10,000 for a ticket to the dinner that he helped organize. “How could I ask others to do what I was unwilling to do myself?” he told me.
But please know that this is not just for the sake of friendship, this sort of effort from Dane’s sincere and profound belief that Mitt Romney is the man that we need as president of these United States, a belief grounded in a friendship that goes back 46 years!