Mitt Romney

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Mitt Romney
Former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaking at CPAC, March 15, 2013.
Romney in 2013
70th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 2, 2003 – January 4, 2007
Lieutenant Kerry Healey
Preceded by Paul Cellucci
Jane Swift (acting)
Succeeded by Deval Patrick
Personal details
Born Willard Mitt Romney
(1947-03-12) March 12, 1947 (age 67)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ann Lois Davies
(m. 1969–present)
Relations George Scott Romney (brother)
  • Taggart Romney
  • Matthew Romney
  • Joshua Romney
  • Benjamin Romney
  • Craig Romney
Parents George Wilcken Romney
Lenore LaFount
Alma mater Stanford University
Brigham Young University (BA)
Harvard University (MBA, JD)
Profession Management consultant, venture capitalist, private equity
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
Positions Cofounder and CEO, Bain Capital (1984–2002)
CEO, Bain & Company (1991–92)
CEO, 2002 Winter Olympics Organizing Committee (1999–2002)
Signature Signature "Mitt Romney", first name more legible than last name
Mitt Romney by Gage Skidmore 7.jpg This article is part of a series about
Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney

Willard Mitt Romney (born March 12, 1947) is an American businessman who was the Republican Party's nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 election. Before his presidential bid, he served as the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.

Raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, by his parents George and Lenore Romney, Mitt Romney spent two and a half years in France as a Mormon missionary starting in 1966. In 1969 he married Ann Davies, with whom he has had five sons. By 1971, Romney had participated in the political campaigns of both of his parents. In that year, he earned a Bachelor of Arts at Brigham Young and in 1975, a joint Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration at Harvard. Romney then entered the management consulting industry and in 1977 secured a position at Bain & Company. Later serving as its chief executive officer, he helped lead the company out of financial crisis. In 1984, he cofounded and led the spin-off company Bain Capital, a highly profitable private equity investment firm that became one of the largest of its kind in the nation. Active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Romney served during his business career as the bishop of his ward (head of his local congregation) and then stake president in his home area near Boston. After stepping down from Bain Capital and his local leadership role in the church, he ran as the Republican candidate in the 1994 Massachusetts election for U.S. Senate. Upon losing to longtime incumbent Ted Kennedy, he resumed his position at Bain Capital. Years later, a successful stint as president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics led to a relaunch of his political career.

Elected Governor of Massachusetts in 2002, Romney helped develop and enact into law the Massachusetts health care reform legislation, the first of its kind in the nation, which provided near-universal health insurance access through state-level subsidies and individual mandates to purchase insurance. He also presided over the elimination of a projected $1.2–1.5 billion deficit through a combination of spending cuts, increased fees, and the closure of corporate tax loopholes. Romney did not seek re-election in 2006, instead focusing on his campaign for the Republican nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. He won several primaries and caucuses but lost to the eventual nominee, Senator John McCain. His considerable net worth, estimated in 2012 at $190–250 million, helped finance his political campaigns prior to 2012.

Romney won the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, becoming the first Mormon to be a major party presidential nominee. Romney was defeated by incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 2012 general election, losing by 332–206 electoral college votes. The popular vote margin was 51–47 percent in Obama's favor.

Early life and education

Heritage and youth

Willard Mitt Romney1 was born on March 12, 1947, at Harper University Hospital in Detroit, Michigan,2 the youngest child of automobile executive George W. Romney and homemaker Lenore Romney (née LaFount).3 His mother was a native of Logan, Utah, and his father was born to American parents in a Mormon colony in Chihuahua, Mexico.45 Of primarily English descent, he also has Scottish and German ancestry.678 A fifth-generation member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), he is the great-great-grandson of Miles Romney, who converted to the faith in its first decade; another great-great-grandfather, Parley P. Pratt, helped lead the early Church.91011

Younger than his three siblings – Margo Lynn, Jane LaFount, and G. Scott – Mitt followed them after a gap of nearly six years.12 His parents named him after a family friend, businessman J. Willard Marriott, and his father's cousin, Milton "Mitt" Romney, a former quarterback for the Chicago Bears.13 Romney was referred to as "Billy" until kindergarten, when he indicated a preference for "Mitt".14 In 1953, the family moved from Detroit to the affluent suburb of Bloomfield Hills.15 His father became the chairman and CEO of American Motors the following year, soon helping the company avoid bankruptcy and return to profitability.15 By 1959, his father had become a nationally known figure in print and on television,16 and the youngster idolized him.17

Brick buildings facing a courtyard
Romney began attending Cranbrook School in 1959.

Romney attended public elementary schools until the seventh grade, when he enrolled as one of only a few Mormon students at Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, a traditional private boys' preparatory school.1418 Many students there came from backgrounds even more privileged than his.19 Not particularly athletic, he also did not distinguish himself academically.17 He participated in his father's successful 1962 Michigan gubernatorial campaign,20 and later worked for him as an intern in the Governor's office.1721 Romney took up residence at Cranbrook when his newly elected father began spending most of his time at the state capitol.18

At Cranbrook, Romney helped manage the ice hockey team, and he joined the pep squad.18 During his senior year, he joined the cross country running team.14 He belonged to eleven school organizations and school clubs overall, including the Blue Key Club, a booster group he had started.18 During his final year there, he improved academically but fell short of excellence.1719 Romney became involved in several pranks while attending Cranbrook. He has since apologized, stating that some of the pranks may have gone too far.nb 1 In March of his senior year, he began dating Ann Davies; she attended the private Kingswood School, the sister school to Cranbrook.1926 The two became informally engaged around the time of his June 1965 graduation.1722

University, France mission, marriage, and children: 1965–75

Romney attended Stanford University during the academic year of 1965–66.17 He was not part of the counterculture of the 1960s then taking form in the San Francisco Bay Area.17 As opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War grew, a group staged a May 1966 sit-in at the university administration building to demonstrate against draft status tests; Romney joined a counter-protest against that group.1727 He continued to enjoy occasional pranks.nb 2

In July 1966, he left the U.S. for a thirty-month stay in France as a Mormon missionary,1730 a traditional rite of passage in his family.nb 3 He arrived in Le Havre, where he shared cramped quarters under meager conditions.1032 Rules against drinking, smoking, and dating were strictly enforced.10 Most individual Mormon missionaries do not gain many convertsnb 4 and Romney was no exception:32 he later estimated ten to twenty for his entire mission.37nb 5 He initially became demoralized and later recalled it as the only time when "most of what I was trying to do was rejected."32 He soon gained recognition within the mission for the many homes he called on and the repeat visits he was granted.10 He was promoted to zone leader in Bordeaux in early 1968, and soon thereafter became assistant to the mission president in Paris.103239 Residing at the Mission Home for several months, he enjoyed a mansion far more comfortable than the lodgings he had elsewhere in the country.39 When the French expressed opposition to the U.S. role in the Vietnam War, Romney debated them in return, and his views were reinforced by those who yelled and slammed their doors.1032

1968 campaign poster showing a smiling George Romney
Mitt's father George (pictured here in a 1968 poster) lost the Republican presidential nomination to Richard M. Nixon but later served in Nixon's cabinet.
campaign button advocating Lenore Romney for U. S. Senate
Mitt's mother Lenore (promoted here on a button) lost a Senate race in 1970, and he worked for her campaign.

In June 1968, an automobile he 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 6 Romney was not at fault in the accident.nb 6 He became co-president of a mission that had become demoralized and disorganized after the May 1968 general strike and student uprisings and the car accident.40 With Romney rallying the others, the mission met a goal of 200 baptisms for the year, the most for them in a decade.40 By the end of his stint in December 1968, he was overseeing the work of 175 others.3241 As a result of his stay, Romney developed a lifelong affection for France and its people, and has remained fluent in French.4344

At their first meeting following his return, Romney and Ann Davies reconnected and decided to get married.45 Romney began attending Brigham Young University (BYU), where she had been studying.46 The couple married on March 21, 1969, in a civil ceremony in Bloomfield Hills.4748 The following day, they flew to Utah for a Mormon wedding ceremony at the Salt Lake Temple (Ann had converted to the faith while he was away).4748

Mitt had missed much of the tumultuous American anti-Vietnam War movement while away in France. Upon his return, it surprised him to learn that his father had joined the movement during his unsuccessful 1968 presidential campaign.32 George was now serving in President Richard Nixon's cabinet as United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In a June 1970 newspaper profile of children of cabinet members, Mitt said that U.S. involvement in the war had been misguided – "If it wasn't a political blunder to move into Vietnam, I don't know what is" – but supported Nixon's ongoing Cambodian Incursion as a sincere attempt to bring the war to a conclusion.49 During the U.S. military draft for the Vietnam War, Romney sought and received two 2-S student deferments, then a 4-D ministerial deferment while living in France as a Mormon missionary. He later sought and received two additional student deferments.2750 When those ran out, the result of the December 1969 draft lottery ensured he would not be selected.275051

At culturally conservative BYU, Romney remained isolated from much of the upheaval of that era.3246 He became president of the Cougar Club booster organization and showed a new-found discipline in his studies.3246 During his senior year, he took a leave to work as driver and advance man for his mother Lenore Romney's eventually unsuccessful 1970 campaign for U.S. Senator from Michigan;2247 together, they visited all 83 Michigan counties.5253 He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with highest honors in 1971,46 giving commencement addresses to both the College of Humanities and to the whole of BYU.nb 7

The Romneys' first son, Taggart, was born in 197034 while they were undergraduates at BYU and living in a basement apartment.46 Ann subsequently gave birth to Matthew (1971) and Joshua (1975). Benjamin (1978) and Craig (1981) would arrive later, after Romney began his career.34

Mitt Romney wanted to pursue a business career, but his father advised him that a law degree would be valuable to his career even if he did not become a lawyer.5657 Thus, he enrolled in the recently created joint Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration four-year program coordinated between Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School.58 He readily adapted to the business school's pragmatic, data-driven case study method of teaching.57 Living in a Belmont, Massachusetts house with Ann and their two children, his social experience differed from most of his classmates'.4757 He was nonideological and did not involve himself in the political issues of the day.4757 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.5458

Business career

Management consulting

Plain logo consisting of green serif letters against white background
Logo of the company where Romney began his business career

Recruited by several firms, Romney joined the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), reasoning that working as a management consultant for a variety of companies would better prepare him for a future position as a chief executive.5659nb 8 Part of a 1970s wave of top graduates who chose to go into consulting rather than join a large company directly,61 he found his legal and business education useful in his job.56 He applied BCG principles such as the growth-share matrix,62 and executives viewed him as having a bright future there.5663

In 1977, he was hired by Bain & Company, a management consulting firm in Boston formed a few years earlier by Bill Bain and other ex-BCG employees.566264 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."65 Unlike other consulting firms, which issued recommendations and then departed, Bain & Company immersed itself in a client's business and worked with them until changes were implemented.5662 Romney became a vice-president of the firm in 1978,14 and worked with clients such as the Monsanto Company, Outboard Marine Corporation, Burlington Industries, and Corning Incorporated.59 Within a few years, the firm considered him one of their best consultants and clients sometimes sought to use him over more senior partners.5666

Two family incidents during this time later came to light during Romney's political career. A confrontation with a park ranger in 1981 became public in 1994,nb 9 and from 2007 on there has been persistent interest in a 1983 family road trip with a dog on the roof.4768

Private equity

In 1984, Romney left Bain & Company to cofound the spin-off private equity investment firm, Bain Capital.69 He had initially refrained from accepting Bill Bain's offer to head the new venture, until Bain rearranged the terms in a complicated partnership structure so that there was no financial or professional risk to Romney.566570 Bain and Romney raised the $37 million in funds needed to start the new operation, which had seven employees.5971 Romney held the titles of president72 and managing general partner.7374 The sole shareholder of the firm, publications also referred to him as managing director or CEO.757677

Initially, Bain Capital focused on venture capital investments. Romney set up a system in which any partner could veto one of these potential opportunities, and he personally saw so many weaknesses that few venture capital investments were approved in the initial two years.56 The firm's first significant success was 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.567178

Plain logo consisting of dark blue serif letters against white background
Logo of Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney cofounded in 1984

Romney soon switched Bain Capital's focus from startups to the relatively new business of leveraged buyouts: buying existing companies with money mostly borrowed from banking institutions using the newly bought companies' assets as collateral, then taking steps to improve the companies' value, and finally selling those companies once their value peaked, usually within a few years.5665 Bain Capital lost money in many of its early leveraged buyouts, but then found deals that made large returns.56 The firm invested in or acquired Accuride Corporation, Brookstone, Domino's Pizza, Sealy Corporation, Sports Authority, and Artisan Entertainment, as well as some lesser-known companies in the industrial and medical sectors.566579 Much of the firm's profit was earned from a relatively small number of deals; Bain Capital's overall success-to-failure ratio was about even.nb 10

Romney discovered few investment opportunities himself (and those that he did, often failed to make money for the firm).81 Instead, he focused on analyzing the merits of possible deals that others brought forward and on recruiting investors to participate in them once approved.81 Within Bain Capital, Romney spread profits from deals widely within the firm to keep people motivated, often keeping less than ten percent for himself.82 Data-driven, Romney often played the role of a devil's advocate during exhaustive analysis of whether to go forward with a deal.5678 He wanted to drop a Bain Capital hedge fund that initially lost money, but other partners disagreed with him and it eventually gained billions.56 He opted out of the Artisan Entertainment deal, not wanting to profit from a studio that produced R-rated films.56 Romney served 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, and the fraud was discovered by the new owners (Romney was never implicated).56 In some cases, Romney had little involvement with a company once acquired.71

Bain Capital's leveraged buyouts sometimes led to layoffs, either soon after acquisition or later after the firm had concluded its role.627071 Exactly how many jobs Bain Capital added compared to those lost because of these investments and buyouts is unknown, owing to a lack of records and Bain Capital's penchant for privacy on behalf of itself and its investors.838485 Maximizing the value of acquired companies and the return to Bain's investors, not job creation, was the firm's fundamental goal.7186 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.567886 Dade Behring was another case where Bain Capital received an eightfold return on its investment, but the company itself was saddled with debt and laid off over a thousand employees before Bain Capital exited (the company subsequently went into bankruptcy, with more layoffs, before recovering and prospering).83 Referring to the layoffs that happened, Romney said in 2007: "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."70

In 1990, facing financial collapse, Bain & Company asked Romney to return.69 Announced as its new CEO in January 1991,7374 he drew a symbolic salary of one dollar69 (remaining managing general partner of Bain Capital during this time).7374 He oversaw an effort to restructure Bain & Company's employee stock-ownership plan and real-estate deals, while rallying the firm's one thousand employees, imposing a new governing structure that excluded Bain and the other founding partners from control, and increasing fiscal transparency.565969 He got Bain and other initial owners who had removed excessive amounts of money from the firm to return a substantial amount, and persuaded creditors, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, to accept less than full payment.87 Within about a year, he had led Bain & Company through a turnaround and returned the firm to profitability.59 He turned Bain & Company over to new leadership and returned to Bain Capital in December 1992.568889

Romney took a leave of absence from Bain Capital from November 1993 to November 1994 to run for the U.S. Senate.4790 During that time, Ampad workers went on strike, and asked Romney to intervene. Against the advice of Bain Capital lawyers, Romney met the strikers, but told them he had no position of active authority in the matter.9192

By 1999, Bain Capital was on its way towards becoming one of the foremost private equity firms in the nation,70 having increased its number of partners from 5 to 18, with 115 employees overall, and $4 billion under its management.6571 The firm's average annual internal rate of return on realized investments was 113 percent5993 and its average yearly return to investors was around 50–80 percent.80

Romney took a paid leave of absence from Bain Capital in February 1999 to serve as the president and CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee.9495 Billed in some public statements as keeping a part-time role,9496 Romney remained the firm's sole shareholder, managing director, CEO, and president, signing corporate and legal documents, attending to his interests within the firm, and conducting prolonged negotiations for the terms of his departure.9497 He did not involve himself in day-to-day operations of the firm or investment decisions for Bain Capital's new private equity funds.9497 He retained his position on several boards of directors during this time and regularly returned to Massachusetts to attend meetings.98

In August 2001, Romney announced that he would not return to Bain Capital.99 His separation from the firm concluded in early 2002;94 he transferred his ownership to other partners and negotiated an agreement that allowed him to receive a passive profit share as a retired partner in some Bain Capital entities, including buyout and investment funds.82100 The private equity business continued to thrive, earning him millions of dollars in annual income.82

Personal wealth

As a result of his business career, Romney and his wife have a net worth of between $190 and $250 million,100101 including their retirement account, worth between $20 and $100 million.102 Most of that wealth has been held in blind trusts since 2003, some of it offshore.100103104 An additional blind trust, valued at $100 million in 2012, exists in the name of their children.105106 In 2010, Romney and his wife received about $22 million in income, almost all of it from investments such as dividends, capital gains, and carried interest; and they paid about $3 million in federal income taxes, for an effective tax rate of 14 percent.107 For the years 1990–2010, their effective federal tax rates were above 13 percent with an average rate of about 20 percent.108

Romney has tithed to the LDS Church regularly, and donated to LDS Church-owned BYU.1011109 In 2010, for example, he and his wife gave $1.5 million to the church.107 The Romney family's Tyler Charitable Foundation gave out about $650,000 in that year, some of which went to organizations that fight diseases.110 For the years 1990–2010, the Romneys' total charitable donations as portions of their income averaged 14 percent.108

Local LDS Church leadership

During his business career, Romney held several positions in the local lay clergy. In 1977, he became a counselor to the president of the Boston Stake.111 He served as bishop of the ward (ecclesiastical and administrative head of his congregation) at Belmont, Massachusetts, from 1981 to 1986.112113 As such, in addition to home teaching, he also formulated Sunday services and classes using LDS scriptures to guide the congregation.114 After the destruction of the Belmont meetinghouse by a fire of suspicious origins in 1984, he forged links with other religious institutions, allowing the congregation to rotate its meetings to other houses of worship during the reconstruction of their building.113115

From 1986 to 1994, Romney presided over the Boston Stake, which included more than a dozen wards in eastern Massachusetts with almost 4,000 church members altogether.66114116 He organized a team to handle financial and management issues, sought to counter anti-Mormon sentiments, and tried to solve social problems among poor Southeast Asian converts.113115 An unpaid position, his local church leadership often took 30 or more hours a week of his time,114 and he became known for his considerable energy in the role.66 He earned a reputation for avoiding any overnight travel that might interfere with his church responsibilities.114

Romney took a hands-on role in general matters, helping in domestic maintenance efforts, visiting the sick, and counseling burdened church members.112113114 A number of local church members later credited him with turning their lives around or helping them through difficult times.113114115 Others, rankled by his leadership style, desired a more consensus-based approach.113 Romney tried to balance the conservative directives from church leadership in Utah with the desire of some Massachusetts members to have a more flexible application of religious doctrine.66 He agreed with some requests from the liberal women's group that published Exponent II for changes in the way the church dealt with women, but clashed with women whom he felt were departing too much from doctrine.66 In particular, he counseled women to not have abortions except in the rare cases allowed by LDS doctrine,nb 11 and encouraged single women facing unplanned pregnancies to give up their baby for adoption.66 Romney later said that the years spent as an LDS minister gave him direct exposure to people struggling financially and empathy for those with family problems.117

1994 U.S. senatorial campaign

Man smiling at right with sign in background and parents holding toddler at left
Campaigning for U.S. Senate in Holyoke, Massachusetts, 1994

For much of his business career, Romney did not take public, political stances.118119 He had kept abreast of national politics since college,32 though, and the circumstances of his father's presidential campaign loss had irked him for decades.22 He registered as an Independent47 and voted in the 1992 presidential primaries for the Democratic former senator from Massachusetts, Paul Tsongas.118120

By 1993, Romney had begun thinking about entering politics, partly based upon Ann's urging and partly to follow in his father's footsteps.47 He decided to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, who was seeking re-election for the sixth time. Political pundits viewed Kennedy as vulnerable that year – in part because of the unpopularity of the Democratic Congress as a whole, and in part because this was Kennedy's first election since the William Kennedy Smith trial in Florida, in which the senator had suffered some negative public relations regarding his character.121122123 Romney changed his affiliation to Republican in October 1993 and formally announced his candidacy in February 1994.47 In addition to his leave from Bain Capital, he stepped down from his church leadership role in 1994.114

Radio personality Janet Jeghelian took an early lead in polls among candidates for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat, but Romney proved the most effective fundraiser.124125 He won 68 percent of the vote at the May 1994 Massachusetts Republican Party convention; businessman John Lakian finished a distant second, eliminating Jeghelian.126 Romney defeated Lakian in the September 1994 primary with more than 80 percent of the vote.14127

In the general election, Kennedy faced the first serious re-election challenger of his career.121 The younger, telegenic, and well-funded Romney ran as a businessman who stated he had created ten thousand jobs and as a Washington outsider with a solid family image and moderate stances on social issues.121128 When Kennedy tried to tie Romney's policies to those of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, Romney responded, "Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. I'm not trying to take us back to Reagan-Bush."129 Romney stated, "Ultimately, this is a campaign about change."130

Romney's campaign was effective in portraying Kennedy as soft on crime, but had trouble establishing its own consistent positions.131 By mid-September 1994, polls showed the race to be approximately even.121132133 Kennedy responded with a series of ads that focused on Romney's seemingly shifting political views on issues such as abortion;134 Romney would respond on the latter by stating, "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country."135 Other Kennedy ads centered on layoffs of workers at the Ampad plant owned by Romney's Bain Capital.121136 The latter was effective in blunting Romney's momentum.78 Kennedy and Romney held a widely watched late-October debate that had no clear winner, but by then, Kennedy had pulled ahead in polls and stayed ahead afterward.137 Romney spent $3 million of his own money in the race and more than $7 million overall.138nb 12 In the November general election, despite a disastrous showing for Democrats nationwide, Kennedy won the election with 58 percent of the vote to Romney's 41 percent,56 the smallest margin in any of Kennedy's re-election campaigns for the Senate.141

The day after the election, Romney returned to Bain Capital, but the loss had a lasting effect; he told his brother, "I never want to run for something again unless I can win."47142 When his father died in 1995, Mitt donated his inheritance to BYU's George W. Romney Institute of Public Management.55 He also joined the board, as vice-chair, of the Points of Light Foundation,99 which had incorporated his father's National Volunteer Center. Romney felt restless as the decade neared a close; the goal of simply making more money was becoming inadequate for him.47142 Although no longer in a local leadership position in his church, he still taught Sunday School.112 During the long and controversial approval and construction process for the $30 million Mormon temple in Belmont, he feared that, as a political figure who had opposed Kennedy, he would become a focal point for opposition to the structure.113 He thus kept to a limited, behind-the-scenes role in attempts to ease tensions between the church and local residents.112113115

2002 Winter Olympics

In 1998, Ann Romney learned that she had multiple sclerosis; Mitt described watching her fail a series of neurological tests as the worst day of his life.47 After experiencing two years of severe difficulties with the disease, she found – while living in Park City, Utah, where the couple had built a vacation home – a combination of mainstream, alternative, and equestrian therapies that enabled her to lead a lifestyle mostly without limitations.143 When her husband received a job offer to take over the troubled organization responsible for the 2002 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, to be held in Salt Lake City in Utah, she urged him to accept it; eager for a new challenge, as well as another chance to prove himself in public life, he did.142144145 On February 11, 1999, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games of 2002 hired Romney as their president and CEO.146

Photograph of Romney standing with microphone in middle of curling lanes
Romney, as president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics, speaking before a curling match

Before Romney took the position, the event was running $379 million short of its revenue goals.146 Officials had made plans to scale back the Games to compensate for the fiscal crisis, and there were fears it might be moved away entirely.147 Additionally, the image of the Games had been damaged by allegations of bribery against top officials including prior committee president and CEO Frank Joklik. The Salt Lake Organizing Committee forced Joklik and committee vice president Dave Johnson to resign.148 Utah power brokers, including Governor Mike Leavitt, searched for someone with a scandal-free reputation to take charge of the Olympics, and chose Romney based on his business and legal expertise as well as his connections to both the LDS Church and the state.145149 The appointment faced some initial criticism from non-Mormons, and fears from Mormons, that it represented cronyism or made the Games seem too Mormon-dominated.38 Romney donated to charity the $1.4 million in salary and severance payments he received for his three years as president and CEO, and also contributed $1 million to the Olympics.150150

Romney restructured the organization's leadership and policies. He reduced budgets and boosted fundraising, alleviating the concerns of corporate sponsors while recruiting new ones.142145 Romney worked to ensure the safety of the Games following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by coordinating a $300 million security budget.144 He oversaw a $1.32 billion total budget, 700 employees, and 26,000 volunteers.146 The federal government provided approximately $400 million145151152 to $600 million153154 of that budget, much of it a result of Romney's having aggressively lobbied Congress and federal agencies.154155 It was a record level of federal funding for the staging of a U.S. Olympics.152155 An additional $1.1 billion of indirect federal funding came to the state in the form of highway and transit projects.156

Romney emerged as the local public face of the Olympic effort, appearing in photographs, in news stories, on collectible Olympics pins depicting Romney wrapped by an American flag, and on buttons carrying phrases like "Hey, Mitt, we love you!"142145157 Robert H. Garff, the chair of the organizing committee, later said "It was obvious that he had an agenda larger than just the Olympics,"142 and that Romney wanted to use the Olympics to propel himself into the national spotlight and a political career.145158 Garff believed the initial budget situation was not as bad as Romney portrayed, given there were still three years to reorganize.145 Utah Senator Bob Bennett said that much of the needed federal money was already in place.145 An analysis by The Boston Globe later stated that the committee had nearly $1 billion in committed revenues at that time.145 Olympics critic Steve Pace, who led Utahns for Responsible Public Spending, thought Romney exaggerated the initial fiscal state to lay the groundwork for a well-publicized rescue.158 Kenneth Bullock, another board member of the organizing committee and also head of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, often clashed with Romney at the time, and later said that Romney deserved some credit for the turnaround but not as much as he claimed.142 Bullock said: "He tried very hard to build an image of himself as a savior, the great white hope. He was very good at characterizing and castigating people and putting himself on a pedestal."145

Despite the initial fiscal shortfall, the Games ended up with a surplus of $100 million.159 President George W. Bush praised Romney's efforts and 87 percent of Utahns approved of his performance as Olympics head.23160 It solidified his reputation as a "turnaround artist",145161162 and Harvard Business School taught a case study based around his actions.62 U.S. Olympic Committee head William Hybl credited Romney with an extraordinary effort in overcoming a difficult time for the Olympics, culminating in "the greatest Winter Games I have ever seen".145 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 relaunch his political aspirations.142

Governor of Massachusetts

2002 gubernatorial campaign

In 2002, plagued by political missteps and personal scandals, the administration of Republican Acting Governor of Massachusetts Jane Swift appeared vulnerable, and many Republicans viewed her as unable to win a general election.160163 Prominent party figures – as well as the White House – wanted Romney to run for governor164165 and the opportunity appealed to him for reasons including its national visibility.166 A poll by the Boston Herald showed Republicans favoring Romney over Swift by more than 50 percentage points.167 On March 19, 2002, Swift announced she would not seek her party's nomination, and hours later Romney declared his candidacy,167 for which he would face no opposition in the primary.168 In June 2002, the Massachusetts Democratic Party challenged Romney's eligibility to run for governor, noting that state law required seven years' consecutive residence and that Romney had filed his state tax returns as a Utah resident in 1999 and 2000.169170 In response, the bipartisan Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission unanimously ruled that he had maintained sufficient financial and personal ties to Massachusetts and was, therefore, an eligible candidate.171

Romney again ran as a political outsider.160 He played down his party affiliation,172 saying he was "not a partisan Republican" but rather a "moderate" with "progressive" views.173 He stated that he would observe a moratorium on changes to the state's laws on abortion, but reiterated that he would "preserve and protect a woman's right to choose" and that his position was "unequivocal".135174 He touted his private sector experience as qualifying him for addressing the state's fiscal problems168 and stressed his ability to obtain federal funds for the state, offering his Olympics record as evidence.152155 He proposed to reorganize the state government while eliminating waste, fraud, and mismanagement.172175 The campaign innovatively utilized microtargeting techniques, identifying like-minded groups of voters and reaching them with narrowly tailored messaging.176

In an attempt to overcome the image that had damaged him in the 1994 Senate race – that of a wealthy corporate buyout specialist out of touch with the needs of regular people – the campaign staged a series of "work days", in which Romney performed blue-collar jobs such as herding cows and baling hay, unloading a fishing boat, and hauling garbage.175177178 Television ads highlighting the effort, as well as one portraying his family in gushing terms and showing him shirtless,177 received a poor public response and were a factor in his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, leading in the polls as late as mid-October.175178 He responded with ads that accused O'Brien of being a failed watchdog for state pension fund losses in the stock market and that associated her husband, a former lobbyist, with the Enron scandal.172178 These were effective in capturing independent voters.178 O'Brien said that Romney's budget plans were unrealistic; the two also differed on capital punishment and bilingual education, with Romney supporting the former and opposing the latter.179

During the election, Romney contributed more than $6 million – a state record at the time – to the nearly $10 million raised for his campaign overall.180181 On November 5, 2002, he won the governorship, earning 50 percent of the vote to O'Brien's 45 percent.182

Tenure, 2003–07

The swearing in of Romney as the 70th governor of Massachusetts took place on January 2, 2003.183 He faced a Massachusetts state legislature with large Democratic majorities in both houses, and had picked his cabinet and advisors based more on managerial abilities than partisan affiliation.184185 He declined a governor's salary of $135,000 during his term.186 Upon entering office in the middle of a fiscal year, he faced an immediate $650 million shortfall and a projected $3 billion deficit for the next year.172 Unexpected revenue of $1.0–1.3 billion from a previously enacted capital gains tax increase and $500 million in new federal grants decreased the deficit to $1.2–1.5 billion.187188 Through a combination of spending cuts, increased fees, and removal of corporate tax loopholes,187 the state achieved surpluses of around $600–700 million during Romney's last two full fiscal years in office, although it began running deficits again after that.nb 13

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

Romney supported raising various fees, including those for drivers' licenses and gun licenses, to raise more than $300 million.172187 He increased a special gasoline retailer fee by two cents per gallon, generating about $60 million per year in additional revenue.172187 Opponents said the reliance on fees sometimes imposed a hardship on those who could least afford them.187 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.172193194 He did so in the face of conservative and corporate critics who viewed these actions as tax increases.193194

The state legislature, with the governor's support, cut spending by $1.6 billion, including $700 million in reductions in state aid to cities and towns.195 The cuts also included a $140 million reduction in state funding for higher education, which led state-run colleges and universities to increase fees by 63 percent over four years.172187 Romney sought additional cuts in his last year as governor by vetoing nearly 250 items in the state budget; a heavily Democratic legislature overrode all the vetoes.196

The cuts in state spending put added pressure on localities to reduce services or raise property taxes, and the share of town and city revenues coming from property taxes rose from 49 to 53 percent.172187 The combined state and local tax burden in Massachusetts increased during Romney's governorship.172 He did propose a reduction in the state income tax rate that the legislature rejected.197

Romney sought to bring near-universal health insurance coverage to the state. This came after Staples founder Stemberg told him at the start of his term that doing so would be the best way he could help people.198 Another factor was that the federal government, owing 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.174199 Although the idea of universal health insurance had not come to the fore during the campaign, 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.198

Determined that a new Massachusetts health insurance measure not raise taxes or resemble the previous decade's failed "Hillarycare" proposal at the federal level, Romney formed a team of consultants from diverse political backgrounds to apply those principles. Beginning in late 2004, they devised a set of proposals that were 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.174185199 In particular, Romney pushed for incorporating an individual mandate at the state level.20 Past rival Ted Kennedy, who had made universal health coverage his life's work and who, over time, had developed a warm relationship with Romney,200 gave the plan a positive reception, which encouraged Democratic legislators to cooperate.174199 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.174199

On April 12, 2006, the governor signed the resulting Massachusetts health reform law, commonly called "Romneycare", 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.201 The bill also established means-tested state subsidies for people who lacked adequate employer insurance and whose income was below a threshold, using funds that had covered the health costs of the uninsured.202203 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.201204 The legislature overrode all eight vetoes, but the governor's office said the differences were not essential.204 The law was the first of its kind in the nation and became the signature achievement of Romney's term in office.174nb 14

At the beginning of his governorship, Romney opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions, but advocated tolerance and supported some domestic partnership benefits.174206207 A November 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision required the state to recognize same-sex marriages (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health).208 Romney reluctantly backed a state constitutional amendment in February 2004 that would have banned those marriages but still allowed civil unions, viewing it as the only feasible way to accomplish the former.208 In May 2004, in compliance with the court decision, the governor instructed town clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, 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, he said no marriage licenses were to be issued to those people not planning to move to Massachusetts.206209 In June 2005, Romney abandoned his support for the compromise amendment, stating that it confused voters who opposed both same-sex marriage and civil unions.206 Instead, he endorsed a ballot initiative led by the Coalition for Marriage and Family (an alliance of socially conservative organizations) that would have banned same-sex marriage and made no provisions for civil unions.206 In 2004 and 2006, he urged the U.S. Senate to vote in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.210211

In 2005, Romney revealed a change of view regarding abortion, moving from the pro-choice positions expressed during his 1994 and 2002 campaigns to a pro-life one in opposition to Roe v. Wade.174 Romney attributed his conversion to an interaction with Harvard University biologist Douglas Melton, an expert on embryonic stem cell biology, although Melton vehemently disputed Romney's recollection of their conversation.212 Romney subsequently vetoed a bill on pro-life grounds that expanded access to emergency contraception in hospitals and pharmacies (the legislature overrode the veto).213 He also amended his position on embryonic stem cell research itself.nb 15

Romney used a 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.174 He dealt with a public crisis of confidence in Boston's Big Dig project – that followed a fatal ceiling collapse in 2006 – by wresting control of the project from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.174 After two years of negotiating the state's participation in the landmark Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that instituted a cap-and-trade arrangement for power plant emissions in the Northeast, Romney pulled Massachusetts out of the initiative shortly before its signing in December 2005, citing a lack of cost limits for industry.214

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.172215 Given a prime-time appearance at the 2004 Republican National Convention, political figures began discussing him as a potential 2008 presidential candidate.216 Midway through his term, Romney decided that he wanted to stage a full-time run for president,217 and on December 14, 2005, announced that he would not seek re-election for a second term.218 As chair of the Republican Governors Association, Romney traveled around the country, meeting prominent Republicans and building a national political network;217 he spent all, or parts of, more than 200 days out of state during 2006, preparing for his run.219

The governor had a 61 percent job approval rating in public polls after his initial fiscal actions in 2003, although his approval rating subsequently declined,220 driven in part by his frequent out-of-state travel.220221 Romney's approval rating stood at 34 percent in November 2006, ranking 48th of the 50 U.S. governors.222 Dissatisfaction with Romney's administration and the weak condition of the Republican state party were among several factors contributing to Democrat Deval Patrick's 20-point win over Republican Kerry Healey, Romney's Lieutenant Governor, in the 2006 Massachusetts gubernatorial election.221223

Romney filed to register a presidential campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission on his penultimate day in office as governor.224 His term ended January 4, 2007.

2008 presidential campaign

Romney formally announced his candidacy for the 2008 Republican nomination for president on February 13, 2007, in Dearborn, Michigan.225 Again casting himself as a political outsider,226 his speech frequently invoked his father and his family, and stressed experiences in the private, public, and voluntary sectors that had brought him to this point.225227

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

The campaign emphasized Romney's highly profitable career in the business world and his stewardship of the Olympics.217228nb 16 He also had political experience as a governor, together with a political pedigree courtesy of his father (as well as many biographical parallels with him).nb 17 Ann Romney, who had become an advocate for those with multiple sclerosis,234 was in remission and would be an active participant in his campaign,235 helping to soften his political personality.236 Media stories referred to the 6-foot-2-inch (1.88 m) Romney as handsome.237 Moreover, a number of commentators noted that with his square jaw and ample hair graying at the temples, he physically matched one of the common images of what a president should look like.69238239240

Romney's liabilities included having run for senator and serving as governor in one of the nation's most liberal states and having taken positions in opposition to the party's conservative base during that time.217228235 Late during his term as governor, he had shifted positions and emphases to better align with traditional conservatives on social issues.217228235 Skeptics, including some Republicans, charged Romney with opportunism and a lack of core principles.120174241 As a Mormon, he faced suspicion and skepticism by some in the Evangelical portion of the party.241

For his campaign, Romney assembled a veteran group of Republican staffers, consultants, and pollsters.228242 He was little-known nationally, though, and stayed around the 10 percent support range in Republican preference polls for the first half of 2007.217 He proved the most effective fundraiser of any of the Republican candidates and also partly financed his campaign with his own personal fortune.228243 These resources, combined with 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.244 Romney's staff suffered from internal strife; the candidate himself was at times indecisive, often asking for more data before making a decision.228245

During all of his political campaigns, Romney has avoided speaking publicly about Mormon doctrines, referring to the U.S. Constitution's prohibition of religious tests for public office.246 But 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.247 In the speech Romney declared, "I believe in my Mormon faith and endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs."11 Romney added that he should neither be elected nor rejected based upon his religion,248 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."247 Instead of discussing the specific tenets of his faith, he said he would be informed by it, stating: "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."247248 Academics would later study the role religion had played in the campaign.nb 18

Casual photograph of Mitt and Ann Romney outdoors with wind blowing her hair
The Romneys on Mackinac Island at the September 2007 Republican Leadership Conference

The campaign's strategy called for winning the initial two contests – the January 3, 2008, Iowa Republican caucuses and the adjacent-to-his-home-state January 8 New Hampshire primary – and propelling Romney nationally.251 However, he took second place in both, losing Iowa to a vastly outspent Huckabee who received more than twice the evangelical Christian votes,252253 and losing New Hampshire to the resurgent McCain.252 Huckabee and McCain criticized Romney's image as a flip flopper252 and this label would stick to Romney through the campaign228 (one that Romney rejected as unfair and inaccurate, except for his acknowledged change of mind on abortion).236254 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."236255 The fervor with which Romney adopted his new stances and attitudes contributed to the perception of inauthenticity that hampered the campaign.62256 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.236

A win by McCain over Huckabee in South Carolina, and by Romney over McCain in childhood-home Michigan, set up a pivotal battle in the Florida primary.257258 Romney campaigned intensively on economic issues and the burgeoning subprime mortgage crisis, while McCain attacked Romney regarding Iraq policy and benefited from endorsements from Florida officeholders.257258 McCain won a 5 percentage point victory on January 29.257258 Although many Republican officials were now lining up behind McCain,258 Romney persisted through the nationwide Super Tuesday contests on February 5. There he won primaries or caucuses in several states, but McCain won in more and in larger-population ones.259 Trailing McCain in delegates by a more than two-to-one margin, Romney announced the end of his campaign on February 7.259

Altogether, Romney had won 11 primaries and caucuses,260 receiving about 4.7 million votes261 and garnering about 280 delegates.262 He spent $110 million during the campaign, including $45 million of his own money.263

Romney endorsed McCain for president a week later,262 and McCain had Romney on a short list for vice presidential running mate, where his business experience would have balanced one of McCain's weaknesses.264 McCain, behind in the polls, opted instead for a high-risk, high-reward "game changer", selecting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.265 McCain lost the election to Democratic Senator Barack Obama.

Activity between presidential campaigns

Romney supported the Bush administration's Troubled Asset Relief Program in response to the late-2000s financial crisis, later saying that it prevented the U.S. financial system from collapsing.266267 During the U.S. automotive industry crisis of 2008–10, he opposed a bailout of the industry in the form of direct government intervention, and argued that a managed bankruptcy of struggling automobile companies should instead be accompanied by federal guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing from the private sector.268

Following the 2008 election, Romney laid the groundwork for a likely 2012 presidential campaign by using his Free and Strong America political action committee (PAC) to raise money for other Republican candidates and pay his existing political staff's salaries and consulting fees.269270 A network of former staff and supporters around the nation were eager for him to run again.271 He continued to give speeches and raise funds for Republicans,272 but fearing overexposure, turned down many potential media appearances.254 He also spoke before business, educational, and motivational groups.273 From 2009 to 2011, he served on the board of directors of Marriott International, founded by his namesake J. Willard Marriott.274 He had previously served on it from 1993 to 2002.274nb 19

In 2009, the Romneys sold their primary residence in Belmont and their ski chalet 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, which they had purchased the year before.254277278 The San Diego home proved beneficial in location and climate for Ann Romney's multiple sclerosis therapies and for recovering from her late 2008 diagnosis of mammary ductal carcinoma in situ and subsequent lumpectomy.277279280 Both it and the New Hampshire location were near some of their grandchildren.277 Romney maintained his voting registration in Massachusetts, however, and bought a smaller condominium in Belmont during 2010.279281 In February 2010, Romney had a minor altercation with LMFAO member Skyler Gordy, known as Sky Blu, on an airplane flight.nb 20

Romney released his book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, in March 2010, and undertook an 18-state book tour to promote the work.285 In the book, Romney writes of his belief in American exceptionalism,286 and presents his economic and geopolitical views rather than anecdotes about his personal or political life.286287 It debuted atop The New York Times Best Seller list.288 Romney donated his earnings from the book to charity.101

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.289 The antipathy Republicans felt for it 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."289 While acknowledging that his plan was an imperfect work in progress, Romney did not back away from it. He defended the state-level health insurance mandate that underpinned it, calling the bill the right answer to Massachusetts' problems at the time.289290291

In nationwide opinion polling for the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries, Romney led or placed in the top three with Palin and Huckabee. A January 2010 National Journal survey of political insiders found that a majority of Republican insiders and a plurality of Democratic insiders predicted Romney would be the party's 2012 nominee.292 Romney campaigned heavily for Republican candidates in the 2010 midterm elections,293 raising more money than the other prospective 2012 Republican presidential candidates.294 Beginning in early 2011, Romney presented a more relaxed visual image, including more casual attire.256295

2012 presidential campaign

Photograph of Romney working a lunch counter line, with citizens and press photographers crowding around
Romney making an appearance in Livonia, Michigan, days after his June 2011 formal campaign announcement

On April 11, 2011, Romney announced, via a video taped outdoors at the University of New Hampshire, that he had formed an exploratory committee for a run for the Republican presidential nomination.296297 Quinnipiac University political science professor Scott McLean 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."297

Romney stood to benefit from the Republican electorate's tendency to nominate candidates who had previously run for president, and thus appeared to be next in line to be chosen.271298299 The early stages of the race found him as the apparent front-runner in a weak field, especially in terms of fundraising prowess and organization.300301302 Perhaps his greatest hurdle in gaining the Republican nomination was party opposition to the Massachusetts health care reform law that he had shepherded five years earlier.295297299 As many potential Republican candidates with star power and fundraising ability 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.300302

On June 2, 2011, Romney formally announced the start of his campaign. Speaking on a farm in Stratham, New Hampshire, he focused on the economy and criticized President Obama's handling of it.303 He said, "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."299

Mitt Romney sitting outdoors during daytime, with crowd behind him holding up blue and white "Romney" signs
Giving an interview at a supporters rally in Paradise Valley, Arizona

Romney raised $56 million during 2011, more than double the amount raised by any of his Republican opponents,304 and refrained from spending his own money on the campaign.305 He initially pursued a low-key, low-profile strategy.306 Michele Bachmann staged a brief surge in polls, which preceded a poll surge in September 2011 by Rick Perry who had entered the race the month before.307 Perry and Romney exchanged sharp criticisms of each other during a series of debates among the Republican candidates.308 The October 2011 decisions of Chris Christie and Sarah Palin not to run effectively settled the field of candidates.309310 Perry faded after poor performances in those debates, while Herman Cain's 'long-shot' bid gained popularity until allegations of sexual misconduct derailed it.311312

Romney continued to seek support from a wary Republican electorate; at this point in the race, his poll numbers were relatively flat and at a historically low level for a Republican frontrunner.309313314 After the charges of flip-flopping that marked his 2008 campaign began to accumulate again, Romney declared in November 2011: "I've been as consistent as human beings can be."315316317 In the final month before voting began, Newt Gingrich experienced a significant surge – taking a solid lead in national polls and most of the early caucus and primary states318 – before settling back into parity or worse with Romney following a barrage of negative ads from Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney Super PAC.319

In the initial contest, the 2012 Iowa caucuses of January 3, election officials announced Romney as ahead with 25 percent of the vote, edging out a late-gaining Rick Santorum by eight votes (an also-strong Ron Paul finished third).320 Sixteen days later, however, they certified Santorum as the winner by a 34-vote margin.321 A week after the Iowa caucuses, Romney earned a decisive win in the New Hampshire primary with a total of 39 percent of the vote; Paul finished second and Jon Huntsman third.322

In the run-up to the South Carolina Republican primary, Gingrich launched ads criticizing Romney for causing job losses while at Bain Capital, Perry referred to Romney's role there as "vulture capitalism", and Sarah Palin pressed Romney to prove his claim that he created 100,000 jobs during that time.323324 Many conservatives rallied in defense of Romney, rejecting what they inferred as criticism of free-market capitalism.323 During two debates in the state, Romney fumbled questions about releasing his income tax returns, while Gingrich gained support with audience-rousing attacks on the debate moderators.325326 Romney's double-digit lead in state polls evaporated; he lost to Gingrich by 13 points in the January 21 primary.325 Combined with the delayed loss in Iowa, Romney's admitted poor week represented a lost chance to end the race early, and he quickly decided to release two years of his tax returns.325327 The race turned to the Florida Republican primary, where in debates, appearances, and advertisements, Romney launched a sustained barrage against Gingrich's past record and associations and current electability.328329 Romney enjoyed a large spending advantage from both his campaign and his aligned Super PAC, and after a record-breaking rate of negative ads from both sides, Romney won Florida on January 31, gaining 46 percent of the vote to Gingrich's 32 percent.330

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan seen in medium distance on an outdoor stage, with large crowd around them
With running mate Paul Ryan in Norfolk, Virginia, during the vice presidential selection announcement on August 11, 2012

Several caucuses and primaries took place during February, and Santorum won three in a single night early in the month, propelling him into the lead in national and some state polls and positioning him as Romney's chief rival.331 Days later, Romney told the Conservative Political Action Conference that he had been a "severely conservative governor"332 (while during his term in 2005 he had maintained that his positions were moderate and characterized reports that he was shifting to the right to attract conservative votes a media distortion).333 Romney won the other five February contests, including a closely fought one in his home state of Michigan at the end of the month.334335 In the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses of March 6, Romney won six of ten contests, including a narrow victory in Ohio over a vastly outspent Santorum. Although his victories were not enough to end the race, they were enough to establish a two-to-one delegate lead over Santorum.336 Romney maintained his delegate margin through subsequent contests,337 and Santorum suspended his campaign on April 10.338 Following a sweep of five more contests on April 24, the Republican National Committee put its resources to work for Romney as the party's presumptive nominee.339 Romney clinched a majority of the delegates with a win in the Texas primary on May 29.

Polls consistently indicated a tight race for the November general election.340 Negative ads from both sides dominated the campaign, with Obama's proclaiming that Romney shipped jobs overseas while at Bain Capital and kept money in offshore tax havens and Swiss bank accounts.341 A related issue dealt with Romney's purported responsibility for actions at Bain Capital after taking the Olympics post.9597 Romney faced demands from Democrats to release additional years of his tax returns, an action a number of Republicans also felt would be wise; after being adamant that he would not do that, he released summaries of them in late September.108342 During May and June, the Obama campaign spent heavily and was able to paint a negative image of Romney in voters' minds before the Romney campaign could construct a positive one.343

In July 2012, Romney visited the United Kingdom, Israel, and Poland, meeting leaders in an effort to raise his credibility as a world statesman.344 Comments Romney made about the readiness of the 2012 Summer Olympics were perceived as undiplomatic by the British press.345346 Israeli Prime Minister (and former BCG colleague) Benjamin Netanyahu, embraced Romney, though some Palestinians criticized him for suggesting that Israel's culture led to their greater economic success.347

On August 11, 2012, the Romney campaign announced the selection of Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice-presidential running mate.348 On August 28, 2012, the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, officially nominated Romney as their candidate for the presidency.349 Romney became the first Mormon to be a major-party presidential nominee.350

In mid-September, a video surfaced of Romney speaking before a group of supporters in which he stated that 47 percent of the nation pays no income tax, are dependent on the federal government, see themselves as victims, and will support President Obama unconditionally. Romney went on to say: "And so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."351352353 After facing criticism about the tone and accuracy of these comments, he at first characterized them as "inelegantly stated", then a couple of weeks later commented: "I said something that's just completely wrong."354 Exit polls published following the election showed that voters never saw Romney as someone who cared about people like them.343

Colored map
County-by-county results of the election, shaded by percentage won: Obama in blue, Romney in red

The first of three 2012 presidential election debates took place on October 3, in Denver. Media figures and political analysts widely viewed Romney as having delivered a stronger and more focused presentation than did President Obama.354355 That initial debate overshadowed Obama's improved presentation in the last two debates later in October, and Romney maintained a small advantage in the debates when seen as a whole.356

The election took place on November 6, and Obama was projected the winner at about 11:14 pm Eastern Standard Time.357 Romney garnered 206 electoral college votes to Obama's 332, losing all but one of nine battleground states, and 47 percent of the nationwide popular vote to Obama's 51 percent.358359 Media accounts described Romney as "shellshocked" by the result.360 He and his senior campaign staff had disbelieved public polls showing Obama narrowly ahead, and had thought they were going to win until the vote tallies began to be reported on the evening of the election.360 But Romney's get out the vote operation had been inferior to Obama's, both in person-to-person organization and in voter modeling and outreach technology361 (the latter exemplified by the failure of the Project Orca application).343 In his concession speech to his supporters, he said, "Like so many of you, Paul and I have left everything on the field. We have given our all to this campaign. I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead this country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader."362 Reflecting on his defeat during a conference call to hundreds of fundraisers and donors a week after the election, Romney attributed the outcome to Obama's having secured the votes of specific interest groups, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, young people, and women, by offering them what Romney called "extraordinary financial gifts."363364365 The remark drew heavy criticism from prominent members of the Republican party.366367

Political positions

Romney and Obama shaking hands
Romney meeting with President Obama after the 2012 presidential election.

In addition to calling for cuts in federal government spending to help reduce the national debt,368 Romney proposed measures intended to limit the growth of entitlement programs, such as introducing means testing and gradually raising the eligibility ages for receipt of Social Security and Medicare.368 He supported substantial increases in military spending and promised to invest more heavily in military weapons programs while increasing the number of active-duty military personnel.369370 He was very supportive of the directions taken by the budget proposals of Paul Ryan, although he later proposed his own budget plan.371372

Romney pledged to lead an effort to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") and replace it with a system that gives states more control over Medicaid and makes health insurance premiums tax-advantaged for individuals in the same way they are for businesses.373 He favored repeal of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Sarbanes–Oxley Act and intended to replace them with what he called a "streamlined, modern regulatory framework".374375

He also promised to seek income tax law changes that he said would help to lower federal deficits and would stimulate economic growth. These included: reducing individual income tax rates across the board by 20 percent, maintaining the Bush administration-era tax rate of 15 percent on investment income from dividends and capital gains (and eliminating this tax entirely for those with annual incomes less than $200,000), cutting the top tax rate on corporations from 35 to 25 percent, and eliminating the estate tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax.376377 He promised that the loss of government revenue from these tax cuts would be offset by closing loopholes and placing limits on tax deductions and credits available to taxpayers with the highest incomes,377 but said that that aspect of the plan could not yet be evaluated because details would have to be worked out with Congress.378

Romney opposed the use of mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions to deal with global warming.316 He stated that he believed climate change is occurring, but that he did not know how much of it could be linked to human activity.316 He was a proponent of increased domestic oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), building more nuclear power plants, and reducing the regulatory authority of the Environmental Protection Agency.379380 He believed North American energy independence could be achieved by 2020.381

Romney labeled Russia as America's "number one geopolitical foe",382 and asserted that preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability should be America's "highest national security priority".383 Romney stated his strong support for Israel.384 He planned to formally label China a currency manipulator and take associated counteractions unless that country changed its trade practices.385 Romney supported the Patriot Act,386 the continued operation of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and use of enhanced interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists.386 Romney opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions, although he favored domestic partnership legislation that gives certain legal rights to same-sex couples, such as hospital visitation.387 In 2011, he signed a pledge promising to seek passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.388

Since 2005, Romney described himself as "pro-life".389 In that year, he wrote: "I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother."390nb 11nb 15 During his 1994 campaign for the senate, Romney had said, "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country," a stance he reiterated during his 2002 campaign for governor.135393 While Romney would prefer to see passage of a constitutional amendment that would outlaw abortion, he did not believe the public would support such an amendment;394 as an alternative, he promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who would help overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing each state to decide on the legality of abortion.395

Romney said that he would appoint federal judges in the mold of U.S. Supreme Court justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and Samuel Alito.396397 He advocated judicial restraint and strict constructionism as judicial philosophies.397398

Subsequent activities

Following the election defeat, Romney has generally kept a low profile,399 with his ordinary daily activities around San Diego being captured via social media glimpses.400 In December 2012, he joined the board of Marriott International for a third stint as a director.401 In March 2013, Romney gave a reflective interview on Fox News Sunday, stating, "It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done". He again expressed regret at the "47 percent" remark, saying "There's no question that hurt and did real damage to my campaign."402403 Romney began working as executive partner group chairman for Solamere Capital, a private capital firm in Boston owned by his son Tagg.404 He was also involved in supporting several charitable causes.404

The Romneys bought a home again in Park City, Utah,405 followed by a property in Holladay, Utah, where they plan to tear down an existing house and build a new one.404 They also gained long-sought permission to replace their San Diego home with a much bigger one, including a car elevator that had brought some derision during the 2012 campaign.404406 With the new acquisitions the couple now had five homes, located near each of their five sons and respective families, and the couple continued to spend considerable time with their grandchildren, who by 2013 numbered twenty-two.404406 The 2014 documentary film Mitt showed a behind-the-scenes, family-based perspective on both of Romney's presidential campaigns and received positive notices for humanizing the candidate and illustrating the toll that campaigning takes.407408 By early 2014, the lack of a clear mainstream Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election led some supporters, donors, and pollsters to suggest a third run, to which Romney responded, "Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no."408

Awards and honors

Romney has received five honorary doctorates: in business from the University of Utah in 1999,409 in law from Bentley College in 2002,410 in public administration from Suffolk University Law School in 2004,411 in public service from Hillsdale College in 2007,412 and in humanities from Liberty University in 2012.413

People magazine included Romney in its 50 Most Beautiful People list for 2002,414 and in 2004, a foundation that promotes the Olympic truce, gave him its inaugural Truce Ideal Award.415 The Cranbrook School gave him their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005.18 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.416 In 2012, Time included Romney in their list of the 100 most influential people in the world.417

Published works

See also


  1. ^ Pranks conducted by Romney during his Cranbrook years included sliding down golf courses on large ice cubes, dressing as a police officer and tapping on the car windows of friends who were making out, and staging an elaborate formal dinner on the median of a busy street.1719 The golf course escapade apparently got Romney and Ann Davies arrested, or otherwise detained, by the local police.2223 In 2012, five former classmates described a 1965 episode wherein Romney, then a senior, took the lead in holding down a younger student while cutting his long, bleached-blond hair with scissors.18 Romney said that he does not recall the incident, though he acknowledged that he may have participated in some high school "hijinks and pranks" that went too far, and he apologized for any harm that resulted from them.2425
  2. ^ Pranks conducted by Romney during his Stanford years included dressing as a police officer and pretending to arrest people28 and pre-"Big Game" customs involving the Stanford Axe.29
  3. ^ Mitt's great-grandfather, grandfather, father, and two uncles had been missionaries,31 as had his older brother.32 He did briefly consider breaking with tradition and not going on a mission33 (and he had successfully rushed the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity at Stanford, for sophomore year membership).27 But he did go, and all five of Mitt's sons later served as missionaries as well.34
  4. ^ Based on figures from 1971 to 2010, the average Mormon gets only 4–8 baptism converts to the faith per year during a mission.35 The church succeeds in expanding by having huge numbers of missionaries, so that the small number of conversions from each one add up.36
  5. ^ Romney's task was complicated by proselytizing for a religion that prohibits alcohol in a country known for it.10 He reflected upon this in 2002: "As you can imagine, it's quite an experience to go to Bordeaux and say, 'Give up your wine! I've got a great religion for you!'"38
  6. ^ a b On June 16, 1968, Romney and five fellow Mormons were traveling on dangerous roads in southern France.174041 As they drove through the village of Bernos-Beaulac, a Mercedes that was passing a truck missed a curve and swerved into the opposite lane hitting the Citroën DS Romney was driving in a head-on collision.1742 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.172241 The wife of the mission president was killed and other passengers were seriously injured as well.41 George Romney relied on his friend Sargent Shriver, the U.S. Ambassador to France, to go to the local hospital and discover that his son had survived.22 Romney, who was not at fault in the accident,3241 had suffered broken ribs, a fractured arm, a concussion, and facial injuries, but recovered quickly without needing surgery.4041 The French police say that they have no records of the incident because such records are routinely destroyed after 10 years.41
  7. ^ 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.5455
  8. ^ Romney sat for the bar exam in his home state of Michigan in July 1975, passed it and was admitted to practice law there, but never worked as a lawyer and considered it only in case his business career did not work out.60
  9. ^ While at a 1981 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 if he took the boat onto the lake. Disagreeing about the license and wanting to continue the outing, Romney took it out anyway, saying he would pay the fine. The angry ranger 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.67
  10. ^ One study of 68 deals that Bain Capital made during Romney's time there found that the firm lost money or broke even on 33 of them.66 Another study that looked at the eight-year period following 77 deals during Romney's time found that in 17 cases the company went bankrupt or out of business, and in 6 cases Bain Capital lost all its investment. But 10 deals were very successful and represented 70 percent of the total profits.80
  11. ^ a b Romney's cited exceptions regarding abortion are in line with those of the LDS Church,113 which allows it in cases of rape, incest, when the mother's health is seriously threatened, or when the fetus cannot survive past birth.66 When Romney was a bishop in the 1980s, there was a case where a woman in his congregation with four children was advised by her doctor to terminate her pregnancy because she had a potentially life-threatening blood clot. Romney strongly advised her not to, but she did anyway.66113
  12. ^ Kennedy spent $10.5 million overall, including a $1.5 million loan to himself.139 This was the second-most expensive race of the 1994 election cycle, after the Dianne FeinsteinMichael Huffington Senate race in California.140
  13. ^ Official state figures for fiscal year 2005 (July 1, 2004 – June 30, 2005) declared a $594.4 million surplus.172189 For fiscal 2006, the surplus was $720.9 million.189 During fiscal 2007, Romney cut $384 million in spending that the legislature wanted; in January 2007, midway through the fiscal year, incoming Governor Deval Patrick restored that amount,190 and also declared that the state faced a "looming budget shortfall" of $1 billion for fiscal 2008.191 Patrick consequently proposed a budget for fiscal 2008 that included $515 million in spending cuts and $295 million in new corporate taxes.192 As it happened, the state ended fiscal 2007 with a $307.1 million deficit and fiscal 2008 with a $495.2 million deficit.189
  14. ^ Upon passage of the law, Romney said "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."199 Within four years, the Massachusetts law had achieved its primary goal of expanding coverage: in 2010, 98% of state residents had coverage, compared to a national average of 83%. Among children and seniors the 2010 coverage rate was even higher, 99.8% and 99.6% respectively. Approximately two-thirds of residents received coverage through employers; one-sixth each received it through Medicare or public plans.205
  15. ^ a b Romney also amended his position on embryonic stem cell research: having once supported it broadly, he changed to being against therapeutic cloning of embryos for scientific research, insisting that "surplus embryos" from fertility treatments should be used instead.391392
  16. ^ American political opinion periodically looked towards industry for business managers who it was thought could straighten out what was held to be wrong in the nation's capital. The track record of such efforts was at best mixed, with Lee Iacocca declining to run, Romney's father George and Steve Forbes failing to get far in the primaries, and Ross Perot staging one of the more successful third-party runs in American history.229230
  17. ^ 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 single-mindedly 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.20231 Neither protested publicly against the LDS Church policy that did not allow black people in its lay clergy, although the elder Romney hoped the church leadership would revise the policy,232 and his son has said that he was greatly relieved when the church did so in 1978.32111233 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. Another is that Mitt's personality is more reserved, private, and controlled than his father's was, traits he got from his mother Lenore,53 and his political personality is also shaped at least as much by Lenore as by George.52 And while George was willing to defy political trends, Mitt has been much more willing to adapt to them.2052185
  18. ^ 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.249 The authors concluded that, "For Romney ... religion is the central story."249 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.250 Those authors concluded that, "for a Mormon candidate, the road to the presidency remains very rough ... The bias against a Mormon candidate is substantial."250
  19. ^ During most of Romney's first stint on the Marriott board, he was a member of, and for six years chair of, the board's audit committee.275 In 1994, during Romney's time as chair, Marriott implemented the Son of BOSS tax shelter, which resulted in the company claiming $71 million in losses. In 2008 and 2009, federal courts ruled this use of the shelter illegal and said those losses never existed. calls a 2012 claim that Romney personally approved the shelter as "Half True".275276
  20. ^ 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.282283284


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Further reading

  • Foster, Craig (2008). A Different God?: Mitt Romney, the Religious Right, and the Mormon Question. Draper, Utah: Greg Kofford Books. ISBN 978-1-58958-117-3. 
  • Hines, Phillip (2012). Mitt Romney in His Own Words. New York: Threshold Editions. ISBN 978-1-4516-8780-4. 
  • Scott, Ronald B. (2011). Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics. Guilford, Connecticut: Lyons Press. ISBN 978-0-7627-7927-7. 
  • Turner, Lisa Ray; Field, Kimberly (2007). Mitt Romney: The Man, His Values, and His Vision. Silverton, Idaho: Mapletree Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60065-109-0. 

External links

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