Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
Romney in 2008
70th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 2, 2003 – January 4, 2007
Lieutenant Kerry Healey
Preceded by Paul Cellucci (Governor)
Jane Swift (acting)
Succeeded by Deval Patrick
Personal details
Born Willard Mitt Romney
March 12, 1947 (1947-03-12) (age 64)
Detroit, Michigan
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ann Romney (m. 1969–present) «start: (1969)»"Marriage: Ann Romney to Mitt Romney" Location: (linkback://
Children Taggart (Tagg) (b. 1970)
Matthew (b. 1971)
Joshua (b. 1975)
Benjamin (b. 1978)
Craig (b. 1981)
Residence Belmont, Massachusetts
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
San Diego, California
Alma mater Stanford University
Brigham Young University (BA)
Harvard University (MBA, JD)
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
Positions Co-founder, Bain Capital (1984-1998)
CEO, Bain & Company (1991-1992)
CEO, 2002 Winter Olympics Organizing Committee (1999-2002)
Mitt Romney 2007 profile portrait.jpg This article is part of a series about
Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney

2012 Presidential campaign
2008 Presidential campaign
Governor of Massachusetts, 2003–2007
Political positions · Electoral history
Public image

Willard Mitt Romney (born March 12, 1947) is an American entrepreneur and politician. He was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and is a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination.

The son of George W. Romney (the former Governor of Michigan) and Lenore Romney (née LaFount), Mitt Romney was raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and later served as a Mormon missionary in France. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University, and thereafter earned Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration joint degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. Romney entered the management consulting business, which led to a position at Bain & Company, where he eventually served as CEO and brought the company out of crisis. He was also co-founder and head of the spin-off company Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm that became highly profitable and one of the largest such firms in the nation. The wealth Romney accumulated there would help fund his future political campaigns. He ran as the Republican candidate in the 1994 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, losing to incumbent Ted Kennedy. Romney organized and steered the 2002 Winter Olympics as President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, and helped turn the troubled games into a financial success.

Romney was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 2002, but did not seek reelection in 2006. He presided over a series of spending cuts and increases in fees that eliminated a projected $3 billion deficit. He also signed into law the Massachusetts health care reform legislation, which provided near-universal health insurance access via subsidies and state-level mandates and was the first of its kind in the nation. During the course of his political career, his positions or rhetorical emphasis have shifted more towards American conservatism in several areas.

Romney ran for the Republican nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, winning several primaries and caucuses, but eventually losing the nomination to John McCain. In the following years his book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, was published. He also gave speeches and raised campaign funds on behalf of fellow Republicans. On June 2, 2011, Romney announced that he would seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Political observers and public opinion polls place him among the front-runners in the race.


Early life

Romney was born in Detroit, Michigan.[1] He was the youngest child of George W. Romney, who by 1948 had become an automobile executive, and Lenore Romney. His mother was a native of Logan, Utah, and his father had been born in Mexico to American parents.[2] The three siblings before him were Margo Lynn, Jane LaFount, and G. Scott,[3] followed by Mitt after a gap of six years.[4] Romney was named after hotel magnate J. Willard Marriott, his father's best friend, and his father's cousin Milton "Mitt" Romney, 1925–1929 quarterback for the Chicago Bears.[5][nb 1] Mitt Romney is of predominately English ancestry.[7]

When he was five, the family moved from Detroit to the affluent suburb of Bloomfield Hills.[8] His father became CEO of American Motors and turned the company around from the brink of bankruptcy; by the time he was twelve, his father had become a nationally known figure in print and on television.[9] Romney idolized his father, read automotive trade magazines, kept abreast of automotive developments, and aspired to be an executive in the industry himself one day.[8][10][11] His father also presided over the Detroit Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to which the family belonged.[12]

Mitt Romney overlooks the Chrysler exhibit at the 1964 New York World's Fair with his father, Michigan governor George Romney.

Romney went to public elementary schools[6] and then from seventh grade on, attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, a private boys preparatory school of the classic mold where he was the lone Mormon and where many students came from even more privileged backgrounds.[8][13][14][15] He was not particularly athletic and at first did not excel at academics.[8] While a sophomore, he participated in the campaign in which his father was elected Governor of Michigan.[nb 2] George Romney was re-elected twice; Mitt worked for him as an intern in the governor's office, and was present at the 1964 Republican National Convention when his moderate father battled conservative party nominee Barry Goldwater over issues of civil rights and ideological extremism.[8][10] Romney had a steady set of chores and worked summer jobs, including being a security guard at a Chrysler plant.[13]

Initially a manager for the ice hockey team and a pep squad member,[13][16] during his final year at Cranbook, Romney joined the cross country running team[6] and improved academically, but was still not a star pupil.[8][14] His social skills were strong, however, and he won an award for those "whose contributions to school life are often not fully recognized through already existing channels."[14] Romney was an energetic child who enjoyed pranks.[nb 3]

In March of his senior year, he began dating Ann Davies, two years behind him, whom he had once known in elementary school;[18][19] she attended the private Kingswood School, the sister school to Cranbrook.[14] The two informally agreed to marriage around the time of his June 1965 graduation.[8][19]

Experiences from 1965 to 1975

Romney attended Stanford University for a year.[8] Although the campus was becoming radicalized with the beginnings of 1960s social and political movements, he kept a well-groomed appearance and enjoyed traditional campus events.[8] In May 1966, he was part of a counter-protest against a group staging a sit-in in the university administration building in opposition to draft status tests.[8][20] He worked as a security guard again in order to fund secret trips home to see Ann.[21]

In July 1966, Romney left for 30 months in France as a Mormon missionary, a traditional duty that his father and other relatives had done.[8][22][23] He arrived in Le Havre with ideas about how to change and promote the French Mission, while facing physical and economic deprivation in their cramped quarters.[23][24] Rules against drinking, smoking, and dating were strictly enforced.[24] Like most individual Mormon missionaries, he did not gain many converts, with the nominally Catholic but secular, wine-loving French people proving especially resistant to a religion that prohibits alcohol.[8][23][24][25] He became demoralized, and later recalled it as the only time when "most of what I was trying to do was rejected."[23] In Nantes, Romney was bruised defending two female missionaries against a horde of local rugby players.[24] He continued to work hard; having grown up in Michigan rather than the more insular Utah world, Romney was better able to interact with the French.[15][24] He was promoted to zone leader in Bordeaux in early 1968 and subsequently became assistant to the mission president in Paris, the highest position for a missionary.[23][24] Romney's support for the U.S. role in the Vietnam War were only reinforced when the French greeted him with hostility over the matter and he debated them in return.[23][24] He also witnessed the May 1968 general strike and student uprisings.[23]

In June 1968, an automobile Romney was driving in southern France was hit by another vehicle, seriously injuring him and killing one of his passengers, the wife of the mission president.[nb 4] Fault for the accident was attributed completely to the other driver.[nb 4] After recovering, Romney became co-acting president of a mission demoralized and disorganized by the May civil disturbances and the car accident.[15] Romney rallied and motivated the others and they met an ambitious goal of 200 baptisms for the year, the most for the mission in a decade.[15] By the end of his stint in December 1968, Romney was overseeing the work of 175 fellow members.[23][26] Romney developed a lifelong affection for France and its people.[28] The experience in the country also changed him. It instilled in him a belief that life is fragile and that he needed seriousness of purpose. He also gained organizational experience and a record of success that he had theretofore lacked.[8][15][24][26] It also represented a crucible, after having been only a half-hearted Mormon growing up: "On a mission, your faith in Jesus Christ either evaporates or it becomes much deeper. For me it became much deeper."[23]

While he was away, Ann Davies had converted to the LDS Church, guided by George Romney, and had begun attending Brigham Young University.[8][19] Mitt was nervous that she had been wooed by others while he was away, and indeed she had dated others, but at their first meeting following his return they reconnected and agreed to quickly get married.[19][29] That happened on March 21, 1969, in a Bloomfield Hills civil ceremony presided over by a church elder; the following day the couple flew to Utah for a wedding ceremony at the Salt Lake Temple.[29][30]

Both Mitt and Ann Romney went to college at Brigham Young, where he gave the commencement address at graduation.

Romney began attending Brigham Young too.[6] He had missed much of the tumultuous American anti-Vietnam War movement while away, and was surprised to learn that his father had turned against the war during his ill-fated 1968 presidential campaign.[23] Regarding the military draft, Romney had initially gotten a student deferment, then like most other Mormon missionaries had received a ministerial deferment while in France, then got another student deferment.[23][31] When those ran out, his high number in the December 1969 draft lottery (300) meant he would not be selected.[11][23][31][32]

At culturally conservative Brigham Young, Romney continued to be separated from much of the upheaval of the era, and did not join the few protests against the war or the LDS Church's policy against giving full membership to blacks.[11][23] He became president and successful fundraiser for the all-male Cougar Club and showed a new-found discipline in his studies.[23] In his senior year he took leave to work as driver and advance man for his mother Lenore Romney's eventually unsuccessful 1970 campaign for U.S. Senator from Michigan.[11][29] He graduated from Brigham Young in 1971, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English and giving commencement addresses to both his own College of Humanities and to the whole university.[nb 5]

The Romneys' first son, Tagg, was born in 1970[29] while both were undergraduates at Brigham Young[34] and living in a basement apartment.[23] They subsequently welcomed Matt (1971), Josh (1975), Ben (1978), and Craig (1981).[29] Ann Romney's work as a stay-at-home mom would enable her husband to pursue his career.[35]

Romney still wanted to pursue a business path, but his father, by now serving in President Richard Nixon's cabinet as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, advised that a law degree would be valuable.[36] Thus Romney became one of only 15 students to enroll at the recently created joint Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration four-year program coordinated between Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School.[37] Fellow students noted Romney's strong work ethic and buttoned-down appearance;[37] he lived in a Belmont, Massachusetts house with Ann and by now two children.[29] He graduated in 1975 cum laude from the law school, in the top third of that class, and was named a Baker Scholar for graduating in the top five percent of his business school class.[33][37]

Business career

Romney was heavily recruited and, after graduation, chose to remain in Massachusetts and go to work for Boston Consulting Group (BCG), thinking that working as a management consultant to a variety of companies would prepare him for a future job as a chief executive.[13][36][38][nb 6] Romney's legal and business education proved useful in this role, and he became a rising star[36] while applying BCG principles such as the growth-share matrix.[40]

In 1977, he was hired away by Bain & Company, a management consulting firm in Boston that had been formed a few years earlier by Bill Bain and other former BCG employees.[36][40][41] Bain would later say of the thirty-year-old Romney, "He had the appearance of confidence of a guy who was maybe ten years older."[42] With Bain & Company, Romney learned the "Bain way", which consisted of immersing the firm in each client's business,[36][42] and not simply to issue recommendations, but to stay with the company until they were changed for the better.[40][41][43] With a record of helping clients such as the Monsanto Company, Outboard Marine Corporation, Burlington Industries, and Corning Incorporated, Romney became a vice president of the firm in 1978 and within a few years one of its best consultants.[6][36][38] Romney became a believer in Bain's methods; he later said, "The idea that consultancies should not measure themselves by the thickness of their reports, or even the elegance of their writing, but rather by whether or not the report was effectively implemented was an inflection point in the history of consulting."[41]

Logo of company that Romney co-founded

Romney was restless for a company of his own to run, and in 1983 Bill Bain offered him the chance to head a new venture that would buy into companies, have them benefit from Bain techniques, and then reap higher rewards than just consulting fees.[36][40] Romney initially refrained from accepting the offer, and Bain re-arranged the terms in a complicated partnership structure so that there was no financial or professional risk to Romney.[36][42][44] Thus, in 1984, Romney left Bain & Company to co-found the spin-off private equity investment firm, Bain Capital.[43] In the face of skepticism from potential investors, Bain and Romney spent a year raising the $37 million in funds needed to start the new operation, which had fewer than ten employees.[38][42][45][46] As general partner of the new firm, Romney spent little money on costs such as office appearance, and saw weak spots in so many potential deals that by 1986, very few had been done.[36] At first, Bain Capital focused on venture capital opportunities.[36] Their first big success came with a 1986 investment to help start Staples Inc., after founder Thomas G. Stemberg convinced Romney of the market size for office supplies and Romney convinced others; Bain Capital eventually reaped a nearly sevenfold return on its investment, and Romney sat on the Staples board of directors for over a decade.[36][45][46]

Romney soon switched Bain Capital's focus from startups to the relatively new business of leveraged buyouts: buying existing firms with money mostly borrowed against their assets, partnering with existing management to apply the "Bain way" to their operations (rather than the hostile takeovers practiced in other leverage buyout scenarios), and then selling them off in a few years.[36][42] Existing CEOs were offered large equity stakes in the process, as part of Bain Capital's belief in the emerging agency theory notion that CEOs should be bound to maximizing shareholder value rather than other goals.[46] Bain Capital lost most of its money in many of its early leveraged buyouts, but then started finding deals that made large returns.[36] Indeed, during the 14 years Romney headed the company, Bain Capital's average annual internal rate of return on realized investments was 113 percent.[38] Romney excelled at presenting and selling the deals the company made.[44] The firm initially gave a cut of its profits to Bain & Company, but Romney later persuaded Bain to give that up.[44]

The firm invested in or acquired many well-known companies such as Accuride, Brookstone, Domino's Pizza, Sealy Corporation, Sports Authority, and Artisan Entertainment, as well as lesser-known companies in the industrial and medical sectors.[36][42][47] Romney's wary instincts were still in force at times, and he was generally data-drive and averse to risk.[36][46] He wanted to drop a Bain Capital hedge fund that initially lost money, but other partners prevailed and it eventually gained billions.[36] He also personally opted out of the Artisan Entertainment deal, not wanting to profit from a studio that produced R-rated films.[36] Within Bain Capital, Romney was viewed as a very fair manager and he received considerable loyalty from the firm's members.[46] Romney was on the board of directors of Damon Corporation, a medical testing company later found guilty of defrauding the government; Bain Capital tripled its investment before selling off the company, with the fraud being discovered by the new owners (Romney was never implicated).[36] In some cases Romney had little involvement with a company once acquired.[45]

Bain Capital's leveraged buyouts sometimes led to layoffs, either soon after acquisition or later after the firm had left.[36][40][44][45] Bain Capital officials later said that overall, more jobs were added than lost due to these buyouts.[48] In any case, maximizing the value of acquired companies and the return to Bain's investors, not job creation, was the firm's fundamental goal, as it was for most private equity operations.[48][45] Regarding job losses, Romney later said, "Sometimes the medicine is a little bitter but it is necessary to save the life of the patient. My job was to try and make the enterprise successful, and in my view the best security a family can have is that the business they work for is strong."[44] Bain Capital's acquisition of Ampad exemplified a deal where it profited handsomely from early payments and management fees, even though the subject company itself ended up going into bankruptcy.[36][46] Bain was among the private equity firms that took the most such fees (with additional cases happening during or after Romney's departure from the firm).[42][46] Romney said in retrospect: "It is one thing that if I had a chance to go back I would be more sensitive to. It is always a balance. Great care has got to be taken not to take a dividend or a distribution from a company that puts that company at risk. [Having taken a big payment from a company that later failed] would make me sick, sick at heart."[42]

In 1990, Romney was asked to return to Bain & Company, which was facing financial collapse.[43] He was announced as its new CEO in January 1991[49][50] (but drew only a symbolic salary of one dollar).[43] Romney managed an effort to restructure the firm's employee stock-ownership plan, real-estate deals and bank loans, while rallying the firm's thousand employees, imposing a new governing structure that included Bain and the other founding partners giving up control, and increasing fiscal transparency.[36][38][43] Within about a year, he had led Bain & Company through a turnaround and returned the firm to profitability without further layoffs or partner defections.[38] He turned Bain & Company over to new leadership and returned to Bain Capital in December 1992.[36][50][51]

During his years in business, Romney tithed by giving millions of dollars to the LDS Church.[24] He served as ward bishop for Belmont from 1981 to 1986, acting as the ecclesiastical and administrative head of his congregation.[52][53] He took a hands-on role, helping in home and garden maintenance efforts, counseling troubled or burdened church members, and trying to solve social problems among poor Southeast Asian converts.[53] His leadership style sometimes rankled those looking for a more consensus-based approach.[53] From 1986 to 1994 he presided over the Boston Stake, which included more than a dozen congregations in eastern Massachusetts.[24][52][54]

Romney left Bain Capital in February 1999 to serve as the President and CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee.[36] By that time, Bain Capital was on its way to being one of the top private equity firms in the nation,[44] having increased its number of partners from 5 to 18, having 115 employees overall, and having $4 billion under its management.[42][45] Bain Capital's approach of applying consulting expertise to the companies it invested in became widely copied within the private equity industry.[16][45] Moreover, Romney had been at the forefront of a modernization wave in American business and the associated emergence of the shareholder value model, which remade American businesses as more productive and efficient but also led to greater income inequality and less stable employment patterns.[46] University of Chicago Booth School of Business economist Steven Kaplan would later say, "[Romney] came up with a model that was very successful and very innovative and that now everybody uses."[46]

His experience at Bain & Company and Bain Capital gave Romney a business-oriented world view – centering around a hate of waste and inefficiency, a love for data and charts and analysis and presentation, and a belief in keeping an open mind and seeking opposing points of view – that he would take with him to the public sector.[13][43] As a result of his business career, by 2007 Romney and his wife had a net worth of between $190 and $250 million, most of it held in blind trusts.[55] Although gone, Romney received a passive profit share as a retired partner in some Bain Capital entities.[55] An additional blind trust existed in the name of the Romneys' children and grandchildren that was valued at between $70 and $100 million as of 2007.[56] The couple's net worth remained in the same range as of 2011, and was still held in blind trusts.[57]

1994 U.S. senatorial campaign

Romney had been thinking about entering politics for a while.[29] He decided to take on longtime incumbent Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, who was more vulnerable than usual in 1994 – in part because of the unpopularity of the Democratic Congress as a whole and also because this was Kennedy's first election since the William Kennedy Smith trial in Florida, in which Kennedy had taken some public relations hits regarding his character.[58][59][60] Romney changed his affiliation from Independent to Republican in October 1993 and formally announced his candidacy in February 1994.[29] He stepped down from his position at Bain Capital during the run.[6]

Romney came from behind to win the Massachusetts Republican Party's nomination for U.S. Senate after buying substantial television time to get out his message, gaining overwhelming support in the state party convention, and then defeating businessman John Lakian in the September 1994 primary with over 80 percent of the vote.[6][61][62] In the general election, Kennedy faced the first serious re-election challenger of his career in the young, telegenic, and very well-funded Romney.[58] Romney ran as a fresh face, as a successful entrepreneur who stated he had created ten thousand jobs, and as a Washington outsider with a strong family image and moderate stands on social issues.[58][63] Romney stated: "Ultimately, this is a campaign about change."[64] After two decades out of public view, his father George re-emerged during the campaign as well.[65][66]

Romney's campaign was effective in portraying Kennedy as soft on crime, but had trouble establishing its own positions in a consistent manner.[67] By mid-September 1994, polls showed the race to be approximately even.[58][68][69] Kennedy responded with a series of attack ads, which focused both on Romney's seemingly shifting political views on issues such as abortion and on the treatment of workers at the AmPad plant owned by Romney's Bain Capital.[58][70][71] The latter was effective in blunting Romney's momentum.[46] Kennedy and Romney held a widely watched late October debate without a clear winner, but by then Kennedy had pulled ahead in polls and stayed ahead afterward.[72] Romney spent over $7 million of his own money, with Kennedy spending more than $10 million from his campaign fund, mostly in the last weeks of the campaign (this was the second-most expensive race of the 1994 election cycle, after the Dianne FeinsteinMichael Huffington Senate race in California).[73]

In the November general election, despite a disastrous showing for Democrats overall, Kennedy won the election with 58 percent of the vote to Romney's 41 percent,[36] the smallest margin in Kennedy's eight re-election campaigns for the Senate.

2002 Winter Olympics

Romney, who served as CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, offering remarks before a curling match

Romney returned to Bain Capital the day after the election, but still smarted from the loss, and told his brother, "I never want to run for something again unless I can win."[29][74] His father died in 1995 and his mother in 1998, and Romney felt restless as the decade neared a close; the goal of just making more money was losing its appeal to him.[29][74] He had stepped down as Boston Stake president in order to run for the Senate, although he still taught Sunday School and had a limited role in trying to ease tensions between the church and local residents during the long and somewhat controversial approval and construction process for a Mormon temple in Belmont.[52][53] Ann Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998; Romney described watching her fail a series of neurological tests as the worst day of his life.[29] After two years of severe difficulties with the disease, she found in Park City, Utah (where the couple had built a vacation home) a mixture of mainstream, alternative, and equestrian therapies that gave her a lifestyle mostly without limitations.[35] When the offer came for Romney to take over the troubled 2002 Olympic Winter Games, to be held in Salt Lake City in Utah, she urged him to take it, and eager for a new challenge, he did.[74][75] On February 11, 1999, Romney was hired as the new president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.[76]

Before Romney came on, the event was running $379 million short of its revenue benchmarks.[76] Plans were being made to scale back the games to compensate for the fiscal crisis and there were fears the games might be moved away entirely.[77] The Games had also been damaged by allegations of bribery involving top officials, including prior Salt Lake Olympic Committee president and CEO Frank Joklik. Joklik and committee vice president Dave Johnson were forced to resign.[78] Romney's appointment faced some initial criticism from non-Mormons, and fears from Mormons, that it represented cronyism or gave the games too Mormon an image.[25]

Romney revamped the organization's leadership and policies, reduced budgets, and boosted fund raising. He soothed worried corporate sponsors and recruited many new ones.[74][79] He admitted past problems, listened to local critics, and rallied Utah's citizenry with a sense of optimism.[74] Romney worked to ensure the safety of the Games following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by ignoring those who suggested the games be called off and coordinating a $300 million security budget.[75][80] He became the public face of the Olympic effort, appearing in countless photographs and news stories and even on Olympics souvenir pins.[74] Romney's omnipresence irked those who thought he was taking too much of the credit for the success, or had exaggerated the state of initial distress, or was primarily looking to improve his own image.[74][79] Overall he oversaw a $1.32 billion budget, 700 employees, and 26,000 volunteers.[76]

Despite the initial fiscal shortfall, the Games ended up clearing a profit of $100 million,[81] not counting the $224.5 million in security costs contributed by outside sources.[82] Romney broke the record for most private money raised by any individual for an Olympics games, summer or winter.[75] His performance as Olympics head was rated positively by 87 percent of Utahns.[83] Romney and his wife contributed $1 million to the Olympics, and he donated to charity the $1.4 million in salary and severance payments he received for his three years as president and CEO.[84]

Romney was widely praised for his successful efforts with the 2002 Winter Olympics[75] including by President George W. Bush,[16] and it solidified his reputation as a turnaround artist.[79] Harvard Business School taught a case study based around Romney's successful actions.[40] Romney wrote a book about his experience titled Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games, published in 2004. The role gave Romney experience in dealing with federal, state, and local entities, a public persona he had previously lacked, and the chance to re-launch his political aspirations.[74] Indeed, he was mentioned as a possible candidate for statewide office in both Massachusetts and Utah, and also as possibly joining the Bush administration.[75][85][86]

Governor of Massachusetts

2002 gubernatorial campaign

In 2002, Republican Acting Governor Jane Swift's administration was plagued by political missteps and personal scandals.[83] Many Republicans viewed her as a liability and considered her unable to win a general election against a Democrat.[87] Prominent GOP activists campaigned to persuade Romney to run for governor.[85] One poll taken at that time showed Republicans favoring Romney over Swift by more than 50 percentage points.[88] In March 2002, Swift decided not to seek her party's nomination, and so Romney was unopposed in the Republican party primary.[83][89]

Massachusetts Democratic Party officials contested Romney's eligibility to run for governor, citing residency issues involving Romney's time in Utah as president of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee.[90] In June 2002, the Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission unanimously ruled that Romney was eligible to run for office.[90]

Romney ran as a political outsider again.[83] Supporters of Romney hailed his business record, especially his success with the 2002 Olympics, as the record of someone who would be able to bring a new era of efficiency into Massachusetts politics.[89] The campaign was the first to use microtargeting techniques, in which fine-grained groups of voters were reached with narrowly tailored messaging.[91] Romney contributed over $6 million to his own campaign during the election, a state record at the time.[83][92] Romney was elected Governor in November 2002 with 50 percent of the vote over his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, who received 45 percent.[93]

Tenure, 2003–2007

Romney was sworn in as the 70th governor of Massachusetts on January 2, 2003. Both houses of the Massachusetts state legislature held large Democratic majorities.[94] He picked his cabinet and advisors more on managerial abilities than partisan affiliation.[13] Upon entering office in the middle of a fiscal year, Romney faced an immediate $650 million shortfall and a projected $3 billion deficit for the next year.[86] Unexpected revenue of $1.0–1.3 billion from a previously enacted capital gains tax increase and $500 million in unanticipated federal grants decreased the deficit to $1.2–1.5 billion.[95][96] Through a combination of spending cuts, increased fees, and removal of corporate tax loopholes, by 2006 the state had a $600–700 million surplus.[86][95][97]

Mitt Romney resting on a wooden desk, flanked by an American flag, a picture of his wife, a lamp, and a painting of mountains
Official Massachusetts State House portrait of Governor Mitt Romney, by artist Richard Whitney

Romney supported raising various fees by more than $300 million, including those for driver's licenses, marriage licenses, and gun licenses.[86][95] Romney increased a special gasoline retailer fee by 2 cents per gallon, generating about $60 million per year in additional revenue.[86][95] (Opponents said the reliance on fees sometimes imposed a hardship on those who could least afford them.[95]) Romney also closed tax loopholes that brought in another $181 million from businesses over the next two years and over $300 million for his term.[86][98] These initial loophole actions, fueled by Romney's sense of rectitude and in the face of conservative and corporate critics that considered them tax increases, won plaudits from legislators as an example of political courage.[98]

The state legislature, with Romney's support, also cut spending by $1.6 billion, including $700 million in reductions in state aid to cities and towns.[99] The cuts also included a $140 million reduction in state funding for higher education, which led state-run colleges and universities to increase tuition by 63 percent over four years.[86][95] Romney sought additional cuts in his last year as Massachusetts governor by vetoing nearly 250 items in the state budget, but all of them were overridden by the Democratic-dominated legislature.[100]

The cuts in state spending put added pressure on local property taxes; the share of town and city revenues coming from property taxes rose from 49 percent to 53 percent.[86][95]

The combined state and local tax burden in Massachusetts increased during Romney's governorship but still was below the national average.[86] According to the Tax Foundation, that per capita burden was 9.8 percent in 2002 (below the national average of 10.3 percent), and 10.5 percent in 2006 (below the national average of 10.8 percent).[101]

Romney was at the forefront of a movement to bring near-universal health insurance coverage to the state, after a business executive told him at the start of his term that doing so would be the best way he could help people[102][103] and after the federal government, due to the rules of Medicaid funding, threatened to cut $385 million in those payments to Massachusetts if the state did not reduce the number of uninsured recipients of health care services.[13][102][104] Despite not having campaigned on the idea of universal health insurance,[105] Romney decided that because people without insurance still received expensive health care, the money spent by the state for such care could be better used to subsidize insurance for the poor.[103]

After positing that any measure adopted not raise taxes and not resemble the previous decade's failed "Hillarycare" proposal, Romney formed a team of consultants from different political backgrounds that beginning in late 2004 came up with a set of innovative proposals more ambitious than an incremental one from the Massachusetts Senate and more acceptable to him than one from the Massachusetts House of Representatives that incorporated a new payroll tax.[13][102][104] In particular, Romney successfully pushed for incorporating an individual mandate at the state level.[4] Past rival Ted Kennedy, who had made universal heath coverage his life's work and who over time developed a warm relationship with Romney,[106] gave Romney's plan a positive reception, which encouraged Democratic legislators to work with it.[102][104] The effort eventually gained the support of all major stakeholders within the state, and Romney helped break a logjam between rival Democratic leaders in the legislature.[102][104]

On April 12, 2006, Romney signed the resulting Massachusetts health reform law, which requires nearly all Massachusetts residents to buy health insurance coverage or face escalating tax penalties such as the loss of their personal income tax exemption.[107] The bill also establishes means-tested state subsidies for people who do not have adequate employer insurance and who make below an income threshold, by using funds previously designated to compensate for the health costs of the uninsured.[108][109][110] He vetoed eight sections of the health care legislation, including a controversial $295-per-employee assessment on businesses that do not offer health insurance and provisions guaranteeing dental benefits to Medicaid recipients.[107][111] The legislature overrode all eight vetoes; Romney's communications director Eric Fehrnstrom responded by saying, "These differences with the Legislature are not essential to the goal of getting everyone covered with insurance."[111] Romney said of the measure overall, "There really wasn't Republican or Democrat in this. People ask me if this is conservative or liberal, and my answer is yes. It's liberal in the sense that we're getting our citizens health insurance. It's conservative in that we're not getting a government takeover."[102] The law was the first of its kind in the nation and became the signature achievement of Romney's term in office.[104][nb 7]

At the beginning of his governorship, Romney opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions, but advocated tolerance and supported some domestic partnership benefits.[104][113][114] Faced with the dilemma of choosing between same-sex marriage or civil unions after the November 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision legalizing same-sex marriages (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health), Romney reluctantly backed a state constitutional amendment in February 2004 that would have banned same-sex marriage but still allow civil unions, viewing it as the only feasible way to ban same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.[115] In May 2004 Romney instructed town clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but citing a 1913 law that barred out-of-state residents from getting married in Massachusetts if their union would be illegal in their home state, no marriage licenses were to be issued to out-of-state same-sex couples not planning to move to Massachusetts.[113][116] In June 2005, Romney abandoned his support for the compromise amendment, stating that the amendment confused voters who oppose both same-sex marriage and civil unions.[113] Instead, Romney endorsed a petition effort led by the Coalition for Marriage & Family that would have banned same-sex marriage and made no provisions for civil unions.[113] In 2004 and 2006 he urged the U.S. Senate to vote in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.[117][118]

In 2005, Romney revealed a change of view regarding abortion, moving from an "unequivocal" pro-choice position expressed during his 2002 campaign to a pro-life one where he opposed Roe v. Wade.[104] He vetoed a bill on pro-life grounds that would expand access to emergency contraception in hospitals and pharmacies.[119]

Romney generally used the bully pulpit approach towards promoting his agenda, staging well-organized media events to appeal directly to the public rather than pushing his proposals in behind-doors sessions with the state legislature.[104] Romney was especially effective in dealing with a crisis of confidence in Boston's Big Dig project following a fatal ceiling collapse in 2006, wresting control of the project from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and helping ensure that it would eventually complete.[104]

During 2004, Romney spent considerable effort trying to bolster the state Republican Party, but it failed to gain any seats in the state legislative elections that year.[86][120] Given a prime-time appearance at the 2004 Republican National Convention, Romney was already being discussed as a potential 2008 presidential candidate.[121] Midway through his term, Romney decided that he wanted to stage a full-time run for president,[122] and on December 14, 2005, Romney announced that he would not seek re-election for a second term as governor.[123][124] As chair of the Republican Governors Association, Romney traveled around the country, meeting prominent Republicans and building a national political network;[122] he spent part or all of more than 200 days out of state during 2006, preparing for his run.[125] Romney's frequent out-of-state travel contributed towards his approval rating declining in public polls towards the end of his term.[126] He conceded that 2006 would be a difficult year for Republicans and that they would likely lose gubernatorial seats, including possibly his own.[126] The weak condition of the Republican state party was one of several factors that led to Democrat Deval Patrick's lopsided win over Republican Kerry Healey in the 2006 Massachusetts gubernatorial election.[126]

Romney filed to register a presidential campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission on his penultimate day in office as governor.[127] Romney's term ended January 4, 2007.

2008 presidential campaign

Romney formally announced his candidacy for the 2008 Republican nomination for president on February 13, 2007, at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.[128] In his speech, Romney frequently invoked his father and his own family and stressed experiences in the private, public, and voluntary sectors that had brought him to this point.[128][129] He said, "Throughout my life, I have pursued innovation and transformation,"[129] and casting himself as a political outsider, said, "I do not believe Washington can be transformed from within by a lifelong politician."[130]

Mitt Romney addressing an audience from atop a stage
Romney holding an "Ask Mitt Anything" session in Ames, Iowa, in May 2007

The assets that Romney's campaign began with included his résumé of success in the business world and his rescuing of the Salt Lake Olympics,[122][131] which matched the commonly held notion that American industry had star players who could straighten out what was wrong in the nation's capital.[132] Romney also had solid political experience as governor together with a political pedigree courtesy of his father, a strong work ethic and energy level, and a large, wholesome-looking family that seemed so perfect as to be off-putting to some voters.[122][131][133] Ann Romney, who had become an outspoken advocate for those with multiple sclerosis,[134] was in remission and would be an active participant in his campaign,[135] helping to soften his political personality.[133] Moreover, with his square jaw, handsome face, and ample hair graying at the temples, Mitt Romney matched one of the common images of what a president should look like.[43][97][136][137] Romney's liabilities included having run for senator and served as governor in one of the nation's most liberal states, having taken some positions there that were opposed by the party's conservative base, and subsequently shifting those positions.[122][131][135] The candidate's Mormon religion was also viewed with suspicion and skepticism by some in the Evangelical portion of the party.[138]

Romney assembled for his campaign a veteran group of Republican staffers, consultants, and pollsters.[131][139] He was little-known nationally, though, and stayed around the 10 percent range in Republican preference polls for the first half of 2007.[122] Romney's strategy was to win the first two big contests, the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, and carry the momentum and visibility gained through the big Super Tuesday primaries and on to the nomination.[139] He proved the most effective fundraiser of any of the Republican candidates,[140] with his Olympics ties helping him with fundraising from Utah residents and from sponsors and trustees of the games.[84] He also partly financed his campaign with his own personal fortune.[131] These resources, combined with his August 2007 win in the Iowa Straw Poll and the mid-year near-collapse of nominal front-runner John McCain's campaign, made Romney a threat to win the nomination and the focus of the other candidates' attacks.[141] Romney's staff suffered from internal strife and the candidate himself was indecisive at times, constantly asking for more data before making a decision.[131][142] Persistent questions about the role of religion in Romney's life, as well as Southern Baptist minister and former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee's rise in the polls based upon an explicitly Christian-themed campaign, led to the December 6, 2007, "Faith in America" speech[143] (academics would later study the role religion had played in the campaign).[nb 8]

Mitt and Ann Romney standing side by side against an American flag
Mitt and Ann Romney in late December 2007 at a campaign event in Londonderry, New Hampshire

In the January 3, 2008, Iowa Republican caucuses, the first contest of the primary season, Romney received 25 percent of the vote and placed second to the vastly outspent Huckabee, who received 34 percent.[146][147] Of the 60 percent of caucus-goers who were evangelical Christians, Huckabee was supported by about half of them while Romney by only a fifth.[146] A couple of days later, Romney won the lightly contested Wyoming Republican caucuses.[148] At a Saint Anselm College debate, Huckabee and McCain pounded away at Romney's image as a flip flopper.[146] Indeed, this label would stick to Romney through the campaign[131] (but was one that Romney rejected as unfair and inaccurate, except for his acknowledged change of mind on abortion).[133] Romney seemed to approach the campaign as a management consulting exercise, and showed a lack of personal warmth and political feel; journalist Evan Thomas wrote that Romney "came off as a phony, even when he was perfectly sincere."[133][149] Romney's staff would conclude that competing as a candidate of social conservatism and ideological purity rather than of pragmatic competence had been a mistake.[133][150]

Romney finished in second place by five percentage points to the resurgent McCain in the next-door-to-his-home-state New Hampshire primary on January 8.[146] Romney rebounded to win the January 15 Michigan primary over McCain by a solid margin, capitalizing on his childhood ties to the state and his vow to bring back lost automotive industry jobs which was seen by several commentators as unrealistic.[nb 9] On January 19, Romney won the lightly contested Nevada caucuses, but placed fourth in the intense South Carolina primary, where he had effectively ceded the contest to his rivals.[155] McCain gained further momentum with his win in South Carolina, leading to a showdown between him and Romney in the Florida primary.[156][157]

Mitt Romney surrounded by people, holding a microphone and smiling
Romney at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, in mid-January 2008

For ten days, Romney campaigned intensively on economic issues and the burgeoning subprime mortgage crisis, while McCain repeatedly and inaccurately asserted that Romney favored a premature withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.[nb 10] McCain won key last-minute endorsements from Florida Senator Mel Martinez and Governor Charlie Crist, which helped push him to a five percentage point victory on January 29.[156][157] Although many Republican officials were now lining up behind McCain,[157] Romney persisted through the nationwide Super Tuesday contests on February 5. There he won primaries or caucuses in several states, including Massachusetts, Alaska, Minnesota, Colorado and Utah, but McCain won more, including large states such as California and New York.[159] Trailing McCain in delegates by a more than two-to-one margin, Romney announced the end of his campaign on February 7 during a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.[159]

Altogether, Romney had won 11 primaries and caucuses,[160] received about 4.7 million total votes,[161] and garnered about 280 delegates.[162] Romney spent $110 million during the campaign, including $45 million of his own money.[163]

Romney endorsed McCain for president a week later.[162] He soon founded the Free and Strong America PAC, a political action committee whose stated mission was to raise money for other Republican candidates and to promote Republican policies.[164] Romney became one of the McCain campaign's most visible surrogates, appearing on behalf of the GOP nominee at fundraisers, state Republican party conventions, and on cable news programs.[165] His efforts earned McCain's respect and the two developed a warmer relationship; he was on the nominee's short list for the vice presidential running mate slot, where his experience in matters economic would have balanced one of McCain's weaknesses.[166] McCain, behind in the polls, opted instead for a high-risk, high-reward "game changer" and selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.[167] Romney continued to work for McCain's eventually unsuccessful general election campaign.

Between presidential campaigns

Following the election, Romney paved the way for a possible 2012 presidential campaign by keeping much of his PAC's money to pay for salaries and consulting fees for his existing political staff[164] and to build up a political infrastructure for what might become a $1 billion campaign three years hence.[150] He also had a network of former staff and supporters around the nation who were eager for him to run again.[168] He continued to give speeches and raise campaign funds on behalf of fellow Republicans,[169] but turned down many potential media appearances so as not to become overexposed.[150] He earned over $374,000 in fees for speeches before business, educational, and motivational groups.[170] He served on the board of directors of Marriott International in 2010, earning over $113,000, then stepped down from it in early 2011.[170]

The Romneys sold their main home in Belmont and their ski house in Utah, leaving them an estate along Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and an oceanfront home in the La Jolla district of San Diego, California, that they had bought the year before.[150][171][172] Both locations were near some of the Romneys' grandchildren,[171] who by 2010 numbered fourteen.[173] The San Diego location was also ideal for Ann Romney's multiple sclerosis therapies and for recovering from her late 2008 diagnosis and lumpectomy for mammary ductal carcinoma in situ.[171][174][175] Romney maintained his voting registration in Massachusetts, however, and bought a smaller condominium in Belmont during 2010.[174][176] Following the August 2009 death of his past rival and sometime ally Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Romney declared that he had no interest in running in the special January 2010 election to replace him.[177] Romney was an early supporter of Scott Brown, the successful Republican candidate in that race. Some of Romney's former aides were used by Brown's campaign and Romney raised funds for Brown.[178][179] In February 2010, Romney had a minor altercation with LMFAO musical group member Skyler Gordy, known as Sky Blu, on an airplane flight.[nb 11]

Romney's book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, was released on March 2, 2010; an 18-state promotional book tour was undertaken.[183] The book, which debuted atop the New York Times Best Seller list,[184] avoided anecdotes about Romney's personal or political life and focused much of its attention on a presentation of his views on economic and geopolitical matters.[185][186] Earnings from the book were donated to charity.[57]

Romney speaking at CPAC 2011

Polls of various kinds showed Romney remaining in the forefront of possible 2012 presidential contenders. In nationwide opinion polling for the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries, he has often led polls or been in the top three along with Palin and Huckabee. He finished first in the CPAC straw poll in 2009[187] and second in 2010 and 2011 behind Ron Paul,[188][189] won the Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll in 2010,[190] and won the New Hampshire Straw Poll in 2011.[191] A January 2010 National Journal poll of political insiders found that a majority of Republican insiders, and a plurality of Democratic insiders, predicted Romney would become the party's 2012 nominee.[192] Pew Research Center and Gallup Poll results showed that during 2009 and 2010, more in the general public were viewing him favorably (36 to 40 percent) than unfavorably (28 to 29 percent); this was a marked improvement from the days of his 2008 presidential campaign, when the reverse had been true.[193][194]

Romney campaigned heavily for Republican candidates around the nation in the 2010 midterm elections,[195] and raised the most funds of any of the prospective 2012 Republican presidential candidates.[196] Appearances during early 2011 found Romney emphasizing how his experience could be applied towards solving the nation's economic problems and presenting a more relaxed visual image.[197][198]

2012 presidential campaign

On April 11, 2011, Romney announced in a video taped outdoors at the University of New Hampshire that he had formed an exploratory committee as a first step for a potential run for the Republican presidential nomination, saying "It is time that we put America back on a course of greatness, with a growing economy, good jobs and fiscal discipline in Washington."[199][200] The announcement represented the culmination of Romney's activities; as one Quinnipiac University political science professor stated, "We all knew that he was going to run. He's really been running for president ever since the day after the 2008 election."[200]

Romney stood to possibly gain from the Republican electorate's tendency to nominate candidates who had previously run for president and were "next in line" to be chosen.[168][198][201][202][203][204] Perhaps his greatest hurdle in gaining the Republican nomination was opposition to the Massachusetts health care reform law that he had signed five years earlier.[198][200][204] The early stages of the race found Romney as the apparent front-runner in a weak field, especially in terms of fundraising prowess and organization.[205][206][207] As many potential Republican candidates decided not to run (including Mike Pence, John Thune, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, and Mitch Daniels), Republican party figures searched for plausible alternatives to Romney.[205][207]

A Romney appearance in Livonia, Michigan, days after his June 2011 formal campaign announcement

On June 2, 2011, Romney formally announced the start of his campaign. Speaking on a farm in Stratham, New Hampshire, he stressed economic issues and said that the nation was suffering from "President Obama's own misery index".[208] He said that, "In the campaign to come, the American ideals of economic freedom and opportunity need a clear and unapologetic defense, and I intend to make it – because I have lived it."[204]

Romney took the early fundraising lead, raising four times more in the second quarter of 2011 than his nearest Republican opponent.[209] Romney refrained from spending any of his own money on his campaign.[210][211] He ran a low-key, low-profile campaign at first and avoided statements about the ongoing U.S. debt ceiling crisis until the final days, when he said he opposed the Budget Control Act of 2011 that resolved it.[212][213] By September 2011, Romney's chief rival in polls was a recent entrant, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and the two exchanged sharp criticisms of each other during a series of debates among the Republican candidates.[214] Michele Bachmann and then Herman Cain staged long-shot surges, followed by one from Newt Gingrich, while the October 2011 decisions of Chris Christie and Sarah Palin not to run finally settled the field.[215][216] Romney continued to seek support from a wary Republican electorate, with his poll numbers relatively flat and at a historically low level for a Republican frontrunner at this point in the race.[215][217] For a while, Romney did not face the charges of flip flopping that marked his 2008 campaign,[218] but then such comments by critics and opponents did mount, especially surrounding his views on the certainty of human causes for global warming.[219][220] In response, Romney declared in November 2011 that "I’ve been as consistent as human beings can be."[219]

Political positions

For much of his business career, Romney had no tangible record of political positions taken.[221][222] He followed national politics avidly in college,[23] and the circumstances of his father's presidential campaign loss would grate on him for decades,[11] but his early philosophical influences were often non-political, such as in his missionary days when he read and absorbed Napoleon Hill's pioneering self-help tome Think and Grow Rich and encouraged his colleagues to do the same.[24][40] Until his 1994 U.S. Senate campaign, he was registered as an Independent.[29] In the 1992 Democratic Party presidential primaries, he had voted for the Democratic former senator from the state, Paul Tsongas.[221][223]

In the 1994 Senate race, Romney explicitly aligned himself with Republican Massachusetts Governor William Weld, who believed in fiscal conservatism and supported abortion rights and gay rights, saying "I think Bill Weld's fiscal conservatism, his focus on creating jobs and employment and his efforts to fight discrimination and assure civil rights for all is a model that I identify with and aspire to."[224]

As a gubernatorial candidate, and then as the newly elected Governor of Massachusetts, Romney again generally operated in the mold established by Weld and followed by Weld's two other Republican successors, Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift: restrain spending and taxing, be tolerant or permissive on social issues, protect the environment, be tough on crime, try to appear post-partisan.[223][225]

During his time as governor, Romney's position on abortion changed to a more conservative stance, in conjunction with a similar change of position on stem cell research.[104][nb 12] Also during that time, his position or choice of emphasis on some aspects of gay rights,[nb 13] and some aspects of abstinence-only sex education,[nb 14] evolved in a more conservative direction. The change in 2005 on abortion drew particular attention and was the result of what Romney described as an epiphany experienced while investigating stem cell research issues.[104] He later said, "Changing my position was in line with an ongoing struggle that anyone has that is opposed to abortion personally, vehemently opposed to it, and yet says, 'Well, I'll let other people make that decision.' And you say to yourself, but if you believe that you're taking innocent life, it's hard to justify letting other people make that decision."[104]

Mitt Romney speaking from a pulpit with both hands raised for emphasis
Romney speaking in October 2007 before the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.

This increased alignment with traditional conservatives on social issues coincided with Romney's becoming a candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination for President.[232][233] He displayed a new-found admiration for the National Rifle Association and ineptly attempted to portray himself as a lifelong hunter.[nb 15] He avoided mentioning his Massachusetts health care law,[4][223][233] became a convert on signing an anti-tax pledge,[4][40] and backed away from further closings of corporate tax loopholes.[98] He also displayed aggressiveness on foreign policy matters such as wanting to double the number of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[233] In response, many skeptics, including a number of Republicans, charged Romney with opportunism and having a lack of core principles.[104][131][223][237] The fervor with which Romney adopted his new stances and attitudes contributed to the perception of inauthenticity which hampered that campaign.[40][197]

While there have been many biographical parallels between the lives of George Romney and his son Mitt,[nb 16] one particular difference is that while George was willing to defy political trends, Mitt has been much more willing to adapt to them.[4][13] Mitt Romney has said that learning from experience and changing views accordingly is a virtue, and that, "If you're looking for someone who's never changed any positions on any policies, then I'm not your guy."[237] Romney responded to criticisms of ideological pandering with the explanation that "The older I get, the smarter Ronald Reagan gets."[135]

Journalist and author Daniel Gross sees Romney as approaching politics in the same terms as a business competing in markets, in that successful executives do not hold firm to public stances over long periods of time, but rather constantly devise new strategies and plans to deal with new geographical regions and ever-changing market conditions.[223] Political profiler Ryan Lizza sees the same question regarding whether Romney's business skills can be adapted to politics, saying that "while giving customers exactly what they want may be normal in the corporate world, it can be costly in politics".[40] Writer Robert Draper holds a somewhat similar perspective: "The Romney curse was this: His strength lay in his adaptability. In governance, this was a virtue; in a political race, it was an invitation to be called a phony."[133] Writer Benjamin Wallace-Wells sees Romney as a detached problem solver rather than one who approaches political issues from a humanistic or philosophical perspective.[46]

Immediately following the March 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Romney attacked the landmark legislation as "an unconscionable abuse of power" and said the act should be repealed.[239] The hostile attention it held among Republicans created a potential problem for the former governor, since the new federal law was in many ways similar to the Massachusetts health care reform passed during Romney's term; as one Associated Press article stated, "Obamacare ... looks a lot like Romneycare."[239] While acknowledging that his plan was not perfect and still was a work in progress, Romney did not back away from it, and has consistently defended the state-level health insurance mandate that underpins it.[239][240] He has focused on its having had bipartisan support in the state legislature, while the Obama plan received no Republican support at all in Congress,[239] and upon it being the right answer to Massachusetts' specific problems at the time.[239][241] A Romney spokesperson has stated: "Mitt Romney has been very clear in all his public statements that he is opposed to a national individual mandate. He believes those decisions should be left to the states."[242] While Romney has not explicitly argued for a federally-imposed mandate, during his 1994 Senate campaign he indicated he would vote for an overall health insurance proposal that contained one, and he suggested during his time as governor and during his 2008 presidential campaign that the Massachusetts plan was a model for the nation and that over time mandate plans might be adopted by most or all of the nation.[243][244][245][246]

Throughout his business, Olympics, and political career, Romney's instinct has been to apply the "Bain way" towards problems.[133][233][247] Romney has said, "There were two key things I learned at Bain. One was a series of concepts for approaching tough problems and a problem-solving methodology; the other was an enormous respect for data, analysis, and debate."[247] He has written, "There are answers in numbers – gold in numbers. Pile the budgets on my desk and let me wallow."[40] Romney believes the Bain approach is not only effective in the business realm but also in running for office and, once there, in solving political conundrums such as proper Pentagon spending levels and the future of Social Security.[233][247] Former Bain and Olympics colleague Fraser Bullock has said of Romney, "He's not an ideologue. He makes decisions based on researching data more deeply than anyone I know."[16] Romney's technocratic instincts have thus always been with him; in his public appearances during the 2002 gubernatorial campaign he sometimes gave PowerPoint presentations rather than conventional speeches.[248] Upon taking office he became, in the words of The Boston Globe, "the state's first self-styled CEO governor".[86] During his 2008 presidential campaign he was constantly asking for data, analysis, and opposing arguments,[233] and has been viewed as a potential "CEO president" should he get that far.[223]

Religious views

Romney is a sixth-generation member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[40][249] He has avoided speaking publicly about specific church doctrines, and pointed out that the U.S. Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office.[250]

Romney's "Faith in America" speech, delivered in December 2007, addressed the matter.[143] Introduced by former President George H. W. Bush, Romney discussed the role of religion in American society and politics. Romney said he should neither be elected nor rejected based upon his religion,[251] and echoed Senator John F. Kennedy's famous speech during his 1960 presidential campaign in saying "I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law."[143] Instead of discussing the specific tenets of his faith, he said that he would be informed by it and that, "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."[143][251]

Electoral history

Awards and honors

Romney has received four honorary doctorates: an Honorary Doctor of Business from the University of Utah in 1999,[252] an Honorary Doctor of Law from Bentley College in 2002,[253] an Honorary Doctor of Public Administration from Suffolk University Law School in 2004,[254] and an Honorary Doctor of Public Service from Hillsdale College in 2007.[255]

People magazine included Romney in its 50 Most Beautiful People list for 2002.[256] In 2004, Romney received the inaugural Truce Ideal Award for his role in the 2002 Winter Olympics.[257] In 2008, he shared with his wife Ann the Canterbury Medal from The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, for "refus[ing] to compromise their principles and faith" during the presidential campaign.[258]


See also

  • List of JD/MBAs


  1. ^ The youngster was called "Billy" until he reached kindergarten, when he indicated a preference for "Mitt".[6]
  2. ^ Mitt's campaigning for his father included working the phone banks and appearing at county fairs; at the latter, he manned a booth and exclaimed over a loudspeaker, "You should vote for my father for Governor. He's a truly great person. You've got to support him. He's going to make things better."[4]
  3. ^ Such pranks included sliding down golf courses on large ice cubes, dressing as a police officer and tapping on the car windows of teenage friends making out, and staging an elaborate formal dinner in the center of a busy intersection.[14] The golf course escapade apparently got Romney and Ann Davies arrested, or otherwise detained, by the local police.[11][16] Romney was also arrested in 1981 while at a family outing at Lake Cochituate in Massachusetts. According to Romney, a ranger from Cochituate State Park told him his motorboat had an insufficiently visible license number and he would face a $50 fine by taking it out. Disagreeing about the license and wanting to continue the outing, Romney took it out anyway, saying he would pay the fine. The angry officer then arrested him for disorderly conduct. The charges were dropped several days later after Romney threatened to sue the officer and the state for false arrest.[17]
  4. ^ a b On June 16, 1968, Romney was driving fellow missionaries on dangerous roads in southern France.[8][15][26] As they drove through the village of Bernos-Beaulac, a Mercedes that was passing a truck missed a curve and suddenly swerved into the opposite lane and hit the Citroën DS Romney was driving in a head-on collision.[27] Trapped between the steering wheel and door, the unconscious and seriously injured Romney had to be pried from the car; a French police officer mistakenly wrote Il est mort in his passport.[8][11][26] The wife of the mission president was killed and other passengers were seriously injured as well.[26] George Romney relied on his friend Sargent Shriver, the U.S. Ambassador to France, to go to the local hospital and discover that Mitt had survived.[11] The fault for the accident was attributed completely to the driver of the other vehicle.[23][26] Romney had suffered broken ribs, a fractured arm, a concussion, and facial injuries, but recovered quickly without needing surgery.[15][26]
  5. ^ Some sources incorrectly report that Romney graduated BYU as valedictorian. Romney himself has corrected this notion, saying that he was not. While he believes he did have the highest grade point average for his BYU years in the College of Humanities, he did not if his Stanford year was factored in, and he did not among the graduating class university-wide.[33]
  6. ^ Romney sat for the bar exam in his home state of Michigan[39] but never worked as a lawyer.
  7. ^ Within four years, the Massachusetts law had achieved its primary goal of expanding coverage: in 2010, 98.1 percent of state residents had coverage, compared to a national average of 83.3 percent. Among children and seniors the 2010 coverage rate was even higher, at 99.8 percent and 99.6 percent respectively. Approximately two-thirds of residents received coverage through employers, while one-sixth each received it through Medicare or public plans.[112]
  8. ^ Regarding the role of Romney's religion in the 2008 campaign, one academic study, based upon research conducted throughout the 2008 primaries, showed that a negative perception of Mormonism was widespread during the election, and that perception was often resistant to factual information that would correct mistaken notions about the religion or Romney's relationship to it.[144] The authors concluded that, "For Romney ... religion is the central story."[144] Another study, analyzing a survey conducted during January 2008 (when an African American, a woman, and a Mormon all had realistic chances of becoming the first president from that group), found that voters had internally accepted the notion of black equality, paving the way for Barack Obama's election; had partially established but not fully internalized the notion of gender equality, making Hillary Rodham Clinton's task somewhat more difficult; but had only selectively internalized the notion of religious equality, and in particular not extended it to Mormons, thus making Romney's run significantly more difficult.[145] Those authors concluded that, "for a Mormon candidate, the road to the presidency remains very rough ... The bias against a Mormon candidate is substantial."[145]
  9. ^ Romney proposed a $20 billion "workout, not a bailout" of the U.S. auto industry. It was termed unrealistic or "pandering" by several news reports.[151][152][153][154]
  10. ^ Previously, Romney had proposed a private timetable for gradually reducing U.S. forces. McCain's statements regarding this were termed dishonest or misleading by several news reports.[156][157][158]
  11. ^ After having attended the 2010 Winter Olympics, Romney and wife were on board an Air Canada plane waiting to take off on a flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles when he got into a physical altercation with Sky Blu, sitting in front of him, over Sky Blu's seat not being in the upright position. Romney said that Sky Blu became physically violent and that he did not retaliate, while Sky Blu said that Romney gave him a "Vulcan grip" first and that he responded physically to that. Sky Blu was escorted off the aircraft by Canadian police but Romney did not press charges and Sky Blu was released.[180][181][182]
  12. ^ During his 2002 campaign, Romney expressed broad support for embryonic stem cell research, and said he would lobby President Bush (who the year before had banned most federal funding for such research) to support it. In early 2005, Romney announced his position on therapeutic cloning for the first time, saying he was against it – and vetoing a funding bill for stem cell research because it allowed it – but still in favor of research on unused embryos from fertility treatments. In early 2007, Romney said he was now against expanded federal funding for such excess embryo research (but still thought private funding for such research was ethical, to the dismay of some conservative Republicans).[226]
  13. ^ As described. While Romney has consistently rejected same-sex marriage throughout his political career, there was a rhetorical shift in emphasis during his time as governor, culminating with Romney rarely talking about protecting gays from bias and instead characterizing himself as a conservative stalwart in the battle against same-sex marriage and in support of heterosexual families. The shift was even greater when compared to Romney's pledges from his 1994 senatorial campaign.[227][228]
  14. ^ During his 2002 campaign, Romney said he backed age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education in public schools. In 2005, he accepted federal funding to a faith-based organization to teach abstinence-only education in public schools. While Romney said such programs would supplement rather than replace existing ones, opponents feared that funding pressure would lead to schools dropping comprehensive programs for the freely available abstinence-only ones.[229][230][231]
  15. ^ Romney joined the National Rifle Association as a life member in August 2006. In December 2007, he claimed a past endorsement from them, but the next day said the organization had only given him unofficial support.[234][235] Romney's explanation of his hunting history has been convoluted.[4][138] In April 2007, he said, "I've been a hunter pretty much all my life," but then acknowledged he had only gone hunting twice and did not own any guns, and later said, "I'm not a big-game hunter. I've made that very clear. I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times."[236]
  16. ^ Biographical parallels between George and Mitt Romney include: Both served as Mormon missionaries in Europe and considered the experiences formative. Both pursued high school sweethearts singlemindedly until the women agreed to marry them several years later, then had families with four or five children. Both had very successful careers in business and became known for turning around failing companies or organizations. Both presided over a stake in the LDS Church. Both achieved their first elected position at age 55, as Republican governor of a Democratic-leaning state. The two bear a close physical resemblance at similar ages and both have been said to "look like a president". Both staged their first presidential run in the year they turned 60. Both were considered suspect by ideological conservatives within the Republican Party.[4][238] There are also obvious differences in their paths, including that George had a hardscrabble upbringing while Mitt's was affluent, and that Mitt far exceeded George's accomplishments in formal education.


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Party political offices
Preceded by
Joseph D. Malone
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Jack E. Robinson
Preceded by
Paul Cellucci
Republican nominee for Governor of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Kerry Healey
Political offices
Preceded by
Jane Swift
Governor of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Deval Patrick

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