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(Franciso Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mitt Romney, left, alongside his son Josh meets with former Gov. Mike O. Leavitt moments before The Salt Lake Chamber was to honor Leavitt with the business honor A Giant in Our City on Thursday, April 10, 2014, at the Grand America Hotel. Former presidential nominee Mitt Romney was the keynote speaker.
Leavitt, Romney and a nude male sculpture

Mitt Romney loves him some Mike Leavitt, and the former presidential nominee jumped at the chance to celebrate his friend at Thursday evening's A Giant In Our City celebration organized by the Salt Lake Chamber.

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One anecdote about Leavitt, Utah's former governor, stood out. Here is an excerpt from Romney's speech:

"One more Mike insight. If you've heard him speak, you have undoubtedly seen him show off some small memento he has gathered to illustrate the theme of his speech. If he were speaking about freedom, for example, he might hold up a stone he took from Boston's freedom trail. If he were speaking about setting goals, he might hold up a piece of string from the Jazz basketball net. You get the idea.

"So in 2001, we were in Olympia Greece together, obtaining the Olympic flame for the torch relay, and participating in an ancient ceremony for world peace. At one point, two doves were released. As they lifted into the air, a white feather from one of the doves gracefully and slowly floated to the ground. I knew what would happen. As soon as the ceremony was over, Mike would bound across the arena and pick up that feather for one of his talks. Sure enough, when the last speech ended, Mike made his move, but to his surprise, Kem Gardner was already sprinting ahead of him. Later, wisely coming to his senses, Kem gave the feather to the governor.

"That afternoon, Kem and I checked into our hotel. Behind the registration desk there was a magnificent sculpture of a nude male athlete. I don't know how to say this in such gentle and delicate company, but the sculpture's maleness had been broken off and was quite visibly absent. Kem turned to me and said: 'I see the governor has been here.'"

-- Matt Canham



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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