On the stump in Iowa Tuesday, Mitt Romney revealed that he met former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty at a holiday party some years ago. Doherty is one of four Americans killed during the September 11th attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.
Romney’s story started out lighthearted, as he recounted how he and Ann mistook a holiday gathering across the street for their neighborhood party, and he ended up talking to Doherty. “He skied in some of the places I had. We had a lot of things in common,” Romney said of Doherty. Both men are from Massachusetts.
“He told me that he keeps going back to the Middle East. He cares very deeply about the people there. He served in the military there, went back from time to time to offer security services and so forth to people there. You can imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALS killed in Benghazi on September 11th.”
Romney was visibly emotional during the story, and the video of the speech was repeated throughout the day on network and cable news.
But one of Glen Doherty’s best friends remembered Doherty’s impression of this meeting much differently.
Elf Ellefsen met Glen Doherty skiing in Utah when he was 19, and the two men remained friends for more than 20 years.
“A guy living life wise beyond his years. Always trying to be progressive as well as do the right thing. Always challenging himself to his greatest ability,” Ellefsen remembered.
He last saw Doherty a week before the final mission to Libya. “I stayed in his house (in California), we paddled out in the ocean together, spent some good quality time.”
Ellefsen said Doherty recalled meeting Mitt Romney years ago, but the account was much different from what the Presidential candidate retold in Iowa.
According to Ellefsen, Romney introduced himself to Doherty four separate times during the gathering.
“He said it was very comical,” Ellefsen said, “Mitt Romney approached him ultimately four times, using this private gathering as a political venture to further his image. He kept introducing himself as Mitt Romney, a political figure. The same introduction, the same opening line. Glen believed it to be very insincere and stale.”
Ellefsen said Doherty remembered Romney as robotic.
“He said it was pathetic and comical to have the same person come up to you within only a half hour, have this person reintroduce himself to you, having absolutely no idea whatsoever that he just did this 20 minutes ago, and did not even recognize Glen’s face.”
Ellefsen described Glen Doherty as a humble, non-political guy, and said it was ironic for him to be used during a presidential campaign.
“Whether it be Republican, Democrat, Green Party, Libertarian, it doesn’t make a difference. Because this guy is using our great friend, our humble, and honorable great friend…who is truly larger than life…He has become part of the soapbox routine for politics in a presidential race.”
Ellefsen said he understands why people would want to link themselves with Doherty. “Of all people to tie yourself to for advancement in life, it’s not surprising that Romney or anybody else would want to tie themselves to Glen Doherty. Because he was incredible. And I can honestly say beyond a shadow of a doubt, he was the greatest person I have ever met in my life.”
I asked Ellefsen what he thought of his friend’s story being used on the political stump:
“Honestly it does make me sick. Glen would definitely not approve of it. He probably wouldn’t do much about it. He probably wouldn’t say a whole lot about it. I think Glen would feel, more than anything, almost embarrassed for Romney. I think he would feel pity for him.”
While it’s unclear just what political, if any, motivations Ellefsen has, it is clear on his Facebook page that he’s upset about the U.S. government’s role in security overseas.
Ellefson isn’t the only one upset with Romney. In an interview with Ross and Burbank, Barbara Doherty criticized Romney for using her son as a “political football.”
“It upsets me because this isn’t something political. This is four wonderful young men who have sacrificed their lives for this country and so other people could be free.”
Doherty says her son never mentioned meeting Romney and likely would have if it had been as meaningful as the candidate portrayed in his speech.
“If Mitt Romney met him and was so moved by him, I’m just wondering why someone from his office never called to see what they could do and I have never received a note of condolence from anybody in that party,” Doherty said.
Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com, contributed to this report