Award-winning journalist, author and BYU alumnus McKay Coppins spoke at BYU to promote his new book, “Romney: A Reckoning,” on Friday, Nov. 3.
The BYU event promoted the release of Coppins’s new biography of the former Utah senator and once presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. According to Coppins, “Romney: A Reckoning” is a redemptive story about a flawed politician who summoned his moral courage as fear and divisiveness were overtaking American life. The book also traces Romney’s early life and rise through the ranks of a fast-transforming Republican Party.
The event was moderated by professor Quin Monson, BYU director of Civic Engagement and Political Science along with Hal Boyd, editor of the Deseret News. Monson posed several questions to Coppins and allowed members of the audience to ask questions toward the end of the discussion.
Boyd and Monson kicked off the discussion by congratulating Coppins for “Romney: A Reckoning” making the top of the New York Times bestseller list.
Coppins then began his remarks by inviting students to chase their passions. When he was a student at BYU, he dreamt of working as a writer and studied journalism. However, Coppins’s dream of becoming a journalist sometimes felt like an impossible goal during the 2009 recession when many newspapers went out of business. Although he considered attending law or business school as an alternative career paths, Coppins continued to pursue his dream of writing and offered this piece of advice.
“I think my advice is just go for it. You have a career dream, especially one that will take you out of your comfort zone, it’s worth giving it a try,” Coppins said.
Coppins then laid out the foundations of his book, beginning with Romney’s youth. While not rebellious, Romney did not always take his faith seriously.
“Romney had seen his faith passed down as an heirloom from his forefathers, but not something core to his identity,” Coppins said.
Coppins shared that during this time, Romney began dating his wife, Ann, who was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was in Romney’s senior year while planning to attend Stanford that he told Ann he would skip serving a mission to marry her. Ann encouraged him to serve, sensing not serving a mission would be something he’d regret.
“Ronney’s mission to Paris became the defining experience of his life in a lot of ways,” Coppins said.
Romney’s mission to Europe resonated with Madeline Crosby, a junior studying social studies in attendance at Friday’s event.
“I appreciated that he shared a story about Mitt Romney’s mission in Europe and how it was very difficult. I also served a mission in Europe, and it was very difficult,” Crosby said.
Coppins then commented on Mitt Romney’s relationship with the Republican party and the direction the party is heading.
“He feels incredibly alienated by the Republican party. I could sense that struggle in him. He feels the leaders of the Republican party have abandoned the moral values, character and belief in the constitution that he thinks are most important, ” Coppins said.
According to Coppins, the book addresses some of Romney’s conflicting feelings, and BYU student Scott Sawaya, an economics major, is looking forward to reading about those experiences.
“Every time a book comes out about a politician, I get skeptical, but it’s cool to see books like this that address their lives in politics and what they want to see change,” Sawaya said.
Ashlan Gruwell, a political science major, is also looking forward to reading the book and enjoyed Coppins’s insight.
“I have a lot of respect for McKay Coppins and Romney for their moral courage. I’m very grateful I came, and I thought it was a great discussion,” Gruwell said.