For Mitt Romney, life is all about family, faith, and finding common ground. The former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 Republican presidential nominee shared his views with students at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, addressing a standing-room-only audience in Lohrfink Auditorium today, September 30.
“The remarkable thing about America is that we have the same values and ideals, and we have different perspectives on what are the best answers to problems, but when you can sit down and work with people, you can often find common ground,” he said, citing his time as governor of Massachusetts.
During the hour-long question-and-answer session, he tackled topics from foreign policy to immigration to the current presidential race. For Romney, there are three priorities that the next president will need to have: to make sure America is the land of opportunity; eliminate generational poverty; and make the world safer.
He also shared reflections of his own presidential bid.
“When you run for president, you fall in love with America,” he said. “You become more optimistic because of the people you meet in this country. What a great people.”
He then told the students, “If you get the chance to run for president, do it!”
Romney emphasized working across the aisle, and used the example of running against former Sen. Ted Kennedy.
“When I became governor and I got to know him better, I recognized that we both loved the country, both were patriotic,” he said. “We had some views about each other that weren’t really accurate. It turns out we had the same objectives, and we thought there were better ways to get there than the other believed. We spent time together. We talked. In these meetings, we got to know each other’s heart and recognized we can put away suspicions we might have had about each other. Then, we worked on common problems.”
Evening MBA program student Jake Kastan (MBA ’16), a political director for Rep. Paul Ryan and former staffer on the the Romney-Ryan presidential campaign, arranged for Romney’s visit to Georgetown and served as a moderator for the discussion.
“[Romney] has been traveling to colleges recently to try to get students’ thoughts on the various challenges facing our country,” Kastan said. “He understands that young people have not typically resonated with the Republican brand or with conservative ideas. I think he wants to engage those people and discuss issues with them.”
Romney encouraged students with political aspirations to find the unique ways they can contribute to the country.
“There are some of you who want to go into politics from the very beginning -- more power to you. Go after it,” he said. “For most of you I’d suggest make your mark elsewhere first. Learn how the economy works, learn how education works, learn the healthcare system, learn the commodities industry. Learn something else that you can bring to public service if a window opens some time down the road.”
For Romney, his accomplishments in both the public and private sector come second to his role as husband, father, grandfather, and friend.
“We only go around this life once, and you want to enjoy life and experience as much of it as possible,” he said. “The most rewarding part of my life is my family...they so eclipse anything else. My faith so eclipses everything else. I think the real wealth in life is the friends you have, the people you love who love you.”