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Is Mitt Romney exploiting the death of a former Navy SEAL?
The mother of an American killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi objects when the Republican tells the story of how he once met her son
 
In Van Meter, Iowa, Mitt Romney tells the story of having met former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty at a Christmas party. Doherty was killed in the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi.
In Van Meter, Iowa, Mitt Romney tells the story of having met former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty at a Christmas party. Doherty was killed in the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi.
Steve Pope/Getty Images

The video: Mitt Romney teared up at a recent campaign appearance when he shared the story of meeting one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in the Sept. 11 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. (See the video below). In Romney's telling, he and his wife once accidentally stumbled into a Christmas party at a neighbor's home, where they met some "really interesting people." Among them, Romney said, was a young man from Massachusetts. "He was a former Navy SEAL," Romney said. I "learned about him. He talked about his life. He skied a lot. He skied in some of the places I had. We had a lot of things in common." So, Romney continued, "you can imagine how I felt when I found that he was one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11. It touched me, obviously." (A sister of the late Glen Doherty confirmed that the two had been introduced at a Christmas party.) Doherty's mother, though, is accusing Romney of exploiting her son's death for political purposes. "I don't trust Romney," Barbara Doherty told NBC's Boston affiliate. "He shouldn't make my son's death part of his political agenda. It's wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama." Romney's campaign said he would stop telling the anecdote out of respect for his family.

The reaction: Romney will regret inserting this story into his stump speech, says Steve Benen at MSNBC. He "already faced criticism for exploiting the deaths in Benghazi for partisan gain last month," and getting slapped down by a grieving mom whose son died serving his country will reinforce the impression that Romney is using our dead as campaign props. Romney did the right thing by respecting the grieving mom's wishes, says Mary Katherine Ham at Hot Air. Still, at the outset, he related the story "with respect and in good faith," praising Doherty for rushing to protect the consulate after hearing of the attack. Romney didn't even use Doherty's name, and if he called attention to the sacrifices of heroes who go "above and beyond to serve and save others," well, that's a good thing. Judge for yourself:

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

 

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