ABC News’ Michael Falcone and Emily Friedman report:
Mitt Romney’s campaign said today he will stop citing his meeting with a former Navy SEAL killed in last month’s terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya after the victim’s mother protested his use of her son’s death.
“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,” said Barbara Doherty, the mother of the slain Navy SEAL Glen Doherty.
She added, “I don’t trust Romney.”
A Romney aide told ABC News today that the Republican candidate will respect Mrs. Doherty’s wish and stop telling the story on campaign stops about how he met Doherty a few years ago.
“Gov. Romney was inspired by the memory of meeting Glen Doherty and shared his story and that memory, but we respect the wishes of Mrs. Doherty,” campaign spokesman Kevin Madden said.
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On Tuesday in Van Meter, Iowa, Romney told the story of meeting Glen Doherty, a Massachusetts native, a few years ago.
“He told me that he keeps going back to the Middle East. He cares very deeply about the people there,” Romney said, recalling his conversation with the former SEAL. ” He served in the military there, went back from time to time to offer security services and so forth to people there. You can imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALS killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11.”
Romney briefly choked up while telling the story, saying, “It touched me.”
Boston television station WHDH posted the interview with Doherty’s mother today. But Romney re-told the story at a campaign stop just hours later in Ohio Tuesday night and again today in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Last month, after the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, which took the lives of Doherty, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, and two other Americans, Romney and his wife, Ann, issued a statement offering condolences to his family.
“Glen served America with bravery and distinction, and gave his life in an effort to save others. Befitting his service as a Navy SEAL, his legacy is one of heroism and courage. We grieve for his loss – and for all who lost their lives – and pray for the comfort of those who will miss him,” Romney wrote at the time. He did not mention having met Doherty at the Christmas party.
In a separate interview with a Seattle radio station a friend of Doherty’s, Elf Ellefsen, recalled hearing Doherty talk about his encounter with Romney in less-than-glowing terms.
“He said it was very comical,” Ellefsen said in an interview with radio station KIRO. “Mitt Romney approached him ultimately four times, using this private gathering as a political venture to further his image. He kept introducing himself as Mitt Romney, a political figure. The same introduction, the same opening line. Glen believed it to be very insincere and stale.”
“Honestly it does make me sick,” Ellefsen said in the interview with KIRO’s Libby Denkmann. “Glen would definitely not approve of it. He probably wouldn’t do much about it. He probably wouldn’t say a whole lot about it. I think Glen would feel, more than anything, almost embarrassed for Romney. I think he would feel pity for him.”
Brandon Webb, another former SEAL and Doherty’s best friend, was with Doherty when he met Romney and remembers Romney reintroducing himself twice.
“Glen and I both gave him a hard time when he reintroduced himself to us a second time. Mitt took it well and we all had a good laugh about it,” said Webb, managing editor of SOFREP.com, for which Doherty was a contributing writer.
But he remembers Doherty being respectful about Romney.
“Glen was very respectful about our encounter with Mitt Romney. That was the kind of guy Glen was. He respected everyone regardless of their differences and that’s what made him such a great human being,” he said.
ABC News’ Lee Ferran contributed to this report