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Fact-checking the new pro-Mitt Romney ad

By Willoughby Mariano February 29, 2012

The GOP presidential primary campaign may still be in mid-season, but at least one campaign TV ad is already in reruns.

Restore our Future, a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC, is slated to air a commercial in Georgia beginning Thursday that, save for a few visuals, is identical to one that ran during the former Massachusetts governor’s failed 2008 presidential campaign.  

It’s also similar to a viral Internet story that PolitiFact National checked Jan. 30.

Both television ads feature former business partner Robert Gay crediting Romney with helping reunite Gay with his daughter after she went missing.

"Mitt’s done a lot of things that people say are nearly impossible," Gay says in both ads. "But for me, the most important thing he’s ever done is to help save my daughter."

Did Mitt "help save" Gay’s daughter?

During the 2008 campaign, PolitiFact National checked news accounts at the time of the search and found out the following:   

On July 6, 1996 the girl sneaked off to go to a rave in New York City, where she took the drug Ecstasy. She had told her parents she was playing tennis.

When she didn't return, Boston-based Bain Capital, where Romney was founder and CEO, essentially shut down to help search for Gay's 14-year-old daughter Melissa
Bain's 50 employees went to New York, where they convinced more than 200 other people to help search the streets for two days. They printed and passed out fliers. Romney clearly had a leading role in the company's operations, but news reports from the time also said other Bain partners helped coordinate the search.

Melissa was found in suburban New Jersey. A teenaged boy who took her in called authorities late on July 11.

Lt. David Peterson of the Montville Township Police said police reports at the time do not mention Romney, but Peterson and reports at the time show the Bain Capital search brought important attention to the case.

"The thing was it was a 911 caller that saw her on channel 7 and called in," said Peterson, who recalled waiting for the girl to be picked up from Montville police station.

News accounts differed on Melissa’s condition when she was found. "Doctors told Gay she might not have lived another day," according to the Boston Globe in 2002.

Newsday reported in July 1996 that "Melissa's parents said she was physically unharmed though she appeared 'very fragile.' The family's doctor had examined the girl and pronounced her in fairly good condition. ..."

"She was not harmed," Robert Gay said at new conference after she was found, according to the New York Daily News . "She was in tears. We just gave her hugs and brought her back home."

We ruled during the 2008 campaign that the claim that Romney helped save the teen was True. It’s still True today.

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Fact-checking the new pro-Mitt Romney ad