No, instead, he gave them a personal loan for a house. A house filled with cancer.
Nope, just a regular house they rented from Romney in the Houston suburbs. After Romney’s initial investment in five rental properties went south, he ended up holding on to them for more than a decade, often renting them at a loss. The Times notes it’s one of few miscues in Romney’s investment history. When he did offload the homes, the renters were given first dibs, but Timothy and Betty Stamps were unable to get a loan for the home because Timothy had recently lost his job.
“Then I got this phone call, personally, from Mr. Romney, asking if we really wanted to buy the house,” Mr. Stamps, 63, said in an interview the other day at the barbershop he now runs. “I said, yes we did. And he said he would loan us the money. He really helped us when we needed it.”
Here’s the NYT being careful to explain how this should be taken as part of its narrative of Romney as rich meanie, but the Stampses see it slightly differently:
Nearly lost among the blizzard of hedge funds, thoroughbred horses and other gold-plated investments in Mitt Romney’s personal financial disclosures, the interest from the $50,500 mortgage is loose change to Mr. Romney, whose net worth has been estimated at close to a quarter-billion dollars.
Yet for the Stampses, who have been writing $600 monthly checks to “Willard M. Romney” for 15 years, the money they borrowed from him to buy their home in 1997 was life-changing…
When Mr. Stamps took the call from Mr. Romney, he and his wife, a nurse, had all but given up hope of being able to buy the house they had been renting for five years. Mr. Romney told him it looked like the couple had been taking good care of the property and that “we would be good people to buy it,” said Mr. Stamps. Mr. Stamps said he never heard from Mr. Romney again, and only became aware of who he was when he started running for president four years ago.
“His name came up somewhere,” he said, “and my wife and I said to each other, ‘That’s the guy we bought our house from!’ ”
This story had been previously unreported, but not because no one was in touch with the Stampses:
Mr. Stamps said that he and his wife had received calls in recent months from strangers who “seemed to be looking for negative stuff” about Mr. Romney, but that the couple had nothing to say to them. (The Stampses recently refinanced the original 30-year loan; the new mortgage, still with Mr. Romney, was dated June 12 but signed just two weeks ago. Details of the interest rate were not included in the public record.)
Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, declined to answer questions about the Texas investment.
Props to the NYT for reporting on this. Many will say it’s just another Romney investment designed to benefit him, even if it did also benefit a regular American couple on tough times. But a) yes, meet capitalism— a beautiful mechanism whereby people can freely engage in mutually beneficial economic decisions every single day and b) he didn’t have to put his neck out and offer a personal loan to someone a bank deemed unqualified. He demonstrated personal faith in the Stampses and it turned into a cool story in which one American could make allowances for another American’s circumstances and take a risk a bank wouldn’t. Liberals find this noble when Freddie and Fannie do it with your money. It’s nice to keep track of all these stories to even out the icy Mitt narrative.
Exit question (Allahpundit™): Or, did he just buy them off to prevent revelations of his secret plan to inflict lots and lots of death?