Huffpost Politics

Mitt Romney Left Insensitive Messages For Gold Star Mother After Her Son's Death, Report Says

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MITT ROMNEY GOLD STAR
AP

During an appearance on "The View" last week, Ann Romney stated that her husband Mitt Romney attended the funerals of every fallen soldier from Massachusetts during his term as governor. It turns out, however, that the Republican presidential candidate did not make it to every funeral -- and even reportedly left voicemails that offended a Gold Star mother after her son was killed in Iraq.

The Boston Phoenix reports:

"I can’t believe you haven’t returned my call," Romney said on one of the voice mail messages, according to Stephany Kern, speaking at her Westerly, Rhode Island home this past Saturday. "Here I am making a second call; I haven’t heard from you."

Mrs. Kern says that many officials, including Romney and Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, left messages for her the day after her son died. She felt unable to speak to anyone in those initial days. "I didn’t listen to any of the calls," she says.

Only Romney, she says, complained in a second message that she had not called back.

"He was completely unable to understand that a mom was not going to return his phone call, and that it wasn’t a priority for me," she says. "I wasn’t being disrespectful. I was being a mom who was greeting the casket of her son coming home from war."

Kern's husband told the Boston Phoenix that he had heard Romney's second and third messages and remembers Romney saying "I'm a busy man" in one of them.

Kern said Romney didn't attend the funeral for her son, Marine Lance Corporal Nickolas Schiavoni, but his office reached out to let her know that he would visit Sciavoni's grave. Kern said doesn't know if that visit ever happened, but that she found it "outrageous" for Romney to call her three times without regard for the state of grief she was in following her son's death.

Romney was recently criticized for invoking the death of a military serviceman while campaigning for his presidential bid. The mother of Glen Doherty, a Navy SEAL killed in last month's attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, complained that the GOP nominee was using her son's death to score political points, prompting Romney to remove the anecdote about meeting her son from subsequent appearances.

The Romney campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

UPDATE: 6:50 p.m. -- Amanda Henneberg, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, refuted the Boston Phoenix report and argued that Romney would "never" exhibit the behavior described by Kern in the story.

"Anyone who knows Governor Romney understands he would never treat or address anyone in the way described," Henneberg said in an email to The Huffington Post. "The Governor honors the commitment made by every brave American who wears our nation’s uniform as well as the sacrifices made by their loved ones. He honored this fallen Marine by naming Nov. 26th Nicky Schiavoni Day."

UPDATE: 8:05 p.m. -- While Kern states in the Boston Phoenix report that she chose not to speak about the incident until now, the Gold Star mother did acknowledge in a 2006 speech that Romney had dedicated a day in her slain son's honor and was unable to attend her funeral.

"Nicky’s coming home was followed by his wake and funeral," Kern said at the Anti-War Patriots Conference on March 21, 2006, in Rhode Island. "Then there was Nicky Schiavoni day, that will be every November 26th in Massachusetts as declared by Governor Romney who could not attend the funeral."

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