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The Heroic Romney Rescue That, For Some Reason, The Campaign Doesn't Talk About

A late evening rescue of a capsized family in 2003 shows Romney at his bravest and most decisive. He saved the dog too.

Posted on February 27, 2012, at 3:43 p.m. ET

It’s a story that’s not often told. Mitt Romney at his family’s summer home in Wolfeboro, N.H. on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee whisking into the night on a Jet Ski with two of his sons to rescue a drowning family of four, their two friends, and their dog.

On the weekend of July 4th, 2003, the Romney family was enjoying their picturesque summer home in New Hampshire on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. In the early evening, according to reports at the time, Craig Romney and his older brother Josh were cleaning up the beach while their father rummaged through the garage. Suddenly, screams from the lake broke the silence.

"We heard a whole bunch of screaming," Josh Romney told the Boston Herald. The Romney brothers and their father quickly raced to their Jet Skis. "We tore out of there and my dad hopped on the other Jet Ski and came out right after us."

The screams came from Robert Morrissey, of New Jersey, his wife, their two adult children, two family friends, and the family dog.

The family, who had traveled from their home Tewksbury Township, N.J to vacation on the lake, were sailing peacefully in their 20-foot long wooden boat until it began to take on water. Within three minutes it had begun to sink.

Though the lake was calm, the water warm, and they all were wearing life vests, the near pitch-black darkness terrified the Morrissey clan.

'This happened really, really fast,'' Mr. Morrissey said in 2003. When the boat started to sink, he dialed 911 on his cellphone as fast as he could. ''As I'm making the call, the boat is going down under my feet.''

Romney and his sons followed the shouts to find the group floating in the darkness treading water alongside their dog.

The Governor heaved the youngest two women onto his Jet Ski, a three-seater, and raced back to shore. The two Romney sons stayed with the rest of the family until the Governor returned to ferry the rest of the family, and their dog, safely to dry land.

The episode hasn't often been mentioned since that night in 2003, and the Romney campaign hasn't sought to politicize the affair. But in a primary where opponents have attempted to cast Romney as a cold, ruthless, uncaring elitist, it shows Romney at his most heroic.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.