In his column today, Bob Tyrrell expresses hope that Mitt Romney won’t become one of those presidential hopefuls who jog to gain attention. I don’t think we’ll need to worry about that, not if we keep in mind this anecdote from Jonathan Cohn’s lengthy profile of Romney, which ran in the July 2, 2007 issue of the New Republic. Cohn is describing a key event in Romney’s prep school career at Cranbrook, the sort that offers an early preview of his subject’s doggedness and toughness, however awkwardly manifested. For this section, Cohn has interviewed a former classmate of Romney named Eric Muirhead. Let them take it from here:
Muirhead admits that he didn’t think much of Mitt’s mettle, either—until senior year, when Mitt suddenly seemed a lot more serious about himself and decided to go out for the cross-country team. Although Mitt had never run track before, Muirhead, who was the team’s captain, and the rest of the team were quickly impressed with Mitt’s work ethic—so impressed, in fact, that when Muirhead fell ill before one of the season’s first meets, he told the coach Mitt should take the open slot.
The race began and, as expected, Mitt fell behind the pack. Muirhead figured it wouldn’t affect the end result. Given the strength of Cranbrook’s top runners, the team would still win, just as long as Mitt actually finished. But, as Mitt neared the end, he was gasping for breath. And, as he staggered through the final stretch, along a track circling the football field, he fell onto his hands and knees. The crowd, there for the homecoming football game, stood up as one—including Lenore Romney, who’d come to see her son’s first race. Muirhead ran out to help, but Mitt refused. “He got up, staggered, and fell again,” Muirhead says. “He kept getting up, kept falling, but kept shouting at us—kept telling us not to touch him. I don’t know how many times he fell, but he finished, he made his way around that track, and he got an ovation like I never heard. He won a lot of people’s respect that day. … In all my years, I never saw a guttier performance.”
Sen. Santorum, still think you can outlast him?