Willard Mitt Romney (born March 12, 1947) is an American businessman and politician. He was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and a candidate for the US Senate, the 2008 and the 2012 Republican Party
presidential nomination. Romney entered the management consulting business which led to a position as CEO of Bain & Company. He was also co-founder and head of the spin-off company Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm which became highly profitable and one of the largest such firms in the nation.
He ran as the Republican candidate in the 1994 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts but lost 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 won the election for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002, but did not seek reelection in 2006. During his term, he presided over a series of spending cuts and fee increases 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.
Romney ran for the Republican nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, winning several caucus and primary contests, though he ultimately lost the nomination to John McCain. In the following years he published No Apology: The Case for American Greatness and 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 initially placed him as an early favorite and front-runner in the race.
Romney was born in Detroit. He is the youngest child of George W. Romney, the former Governor of Michigan and a man of humble upbringing who by 1948 had become an automobile executive, and Lenore Romney (née LaFount). His mother was a native of Logan, Utah and his father had been born in Mexico to American parents. The three siblings before him were Margo Lynn, Jane LaFount, and G. Scott, followed by Mitt after a gap of six years. 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.
When he was five, the family moved from Detroit to the affluent suburb of Bloomfield Hills. 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. Romney idolozed his father, read automotive trade magazines, kept abreast of automotive developments, and aspired to be an executive in the industry himself one day. His father also presided over the Detroit Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to which the family belonged.
Romney went to public elementary schools 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. He was not particularly athletic and at first did not excel at academics. While a sophomore, he participated in his father’s campaign for Governor of Michigan. 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 father battled for an expansive, centralized federal government against conservative party nominee Barry Goldwater. Romney had a steady set of chores and worked summer jobs, including being a security guard at a Chrysler plant.
In March of his senior year, he began dating Ann Davies, two years behind him, whom he had once known in elementary school;she attended the private Kingswood School, the sister school to Cranbrook. The two informally agreed to marriage around the time of his June 1965 graduation.
After graduating high school, Romney attended Stanford University for a year. Although the campus was becoming radicalized with the beginnings of 1960s social and political movements. 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.
In July 1966, Romney left for 30 months in France as a Mormon missionary, a traditional duty in the Mormon faith. Romney’s support for the U.S. role in the Vietnam War was only reinforced when the French greeted him with hostility over the matter. He also witnessed the May 1968 general strike and student uprisings. 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. This experience in France changed Romney. 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. 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.”
Ann Davies had converted to the LDS Church, guided by George Romney, and had begun attending Brigham Young University. Mitt and Ann were married on March 21, 1969. Both Mitt and Ann Romney continued their education at Brigham Young, where he gave the commencement address at graduation. 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. 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. When those ran out, his high number in the December 1969 draft lottery (300) meant he would not be selected.
The Romneys’ first son, Tagg, was born in 1970 while both were undergraduates at Brigham Young and living in a basement apartment. They subsequently welcomed Matt (1971), Josh (1975), Ben (1978), and Craig (1981). Ann Romney’s work as a stay-at-home mom would enable her husband to pursue his career.
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. 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. 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.
Romney was heavily recruited and, after graduation, chose to remain in Massachusetts and go to work for Boston Consulting Group as a management consultant. 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. 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.” With a record of success with clients such as the Monsanto Company, Outboard Marine Corporation, Burlington Industries, and Corning Incorporated, Romney became a vice president of the firm in 1978.
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. Thus, in 1984, Romney left Bain & Company to co-found the spin-off private equity investment firm, Bain Capital. 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; Bain Capital eventually reaped a nearly sevenfold return on its investment, and Romney sat on the Staples board of
directors for over a decade.
Romney soon switched Bain Capital’s focus from startups to the relatively new business of leveraged buyouts. During the 14 years Romney headed the company, Bain Capital’s average annual internal rate of return on realized investments was 113 percent. Romney left Bain Capital in February 1999 to serve as the President and CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee. As a result of his business career, by 2007 Romney and his wife had a net worth of between $190 and $250 million.
During his years in business, Romney tithed by giving millions of dollars to the LDS Church. He served as ward bishop for Belmont from 1984 to 1986, acting as the ecclesiastical and administrative head of his congregation. From 1986 to 1994 he presided over the Boston Stake, which included more than a dozen congregations in eastern Massachusetts.
2002 Winter Olympics
Romney, served as CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The games to be held in Salt Lake City,Utah were running $379 million short of their revenue benchmarks. Plans were made to scale back the games to compensate for the fiscal crisis, and there were fears the games might be moved away entirely. The Games had also been damaged by allegations of bribery involving top officials, and forced resignation of Salt Lake Olympic Committee president and CEO Frank Joklik. 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.
Romney revamped the organization’s leadership and policies, reduced budgets, and boosted fund raising. He soothed worried corporate sponsors and recruited many new ones. He admitted past problems, listened to local
critics, and rallied Utah’s citizenry with a sense of optimism. 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. He became the public face of the Olympic effort, appearing in countless photographs and news stories and even on Olympics souvenir pins. 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. Overall he oversaw a $1.32 billion budget, 700 employees, and 26,000 volunteers.
Despite the initial fiscal shortfall, the Games ended up clearing a profit of $100 million, not counting the $224.5 million in security costs contributed by outside sources. Romney broke the record for most
private money raised by any individual for an Olympics games, summer or winter. Romney was widely praised for his successful efforts with the 2002 Winter Olympics including by President George W. Bush, and it solidified his reputation as a turnaround artist. Harvard Business School taught a case study based around Romney’s successful actions. 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. Indeed, he was mentioned as a possible candidate for statewide office in both Massachusetts and Utah, and also as possibly joining the Bush administration.
Romney got an early start in politics. He participated in his father’s campaign for Governor of Michigan while a high school sophomore 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 father battled for an expansive, centralized federal government against the conservative -libertarian GOP nominee Barry Goldwater.
1994 U.S. Senatorial Campaign
With his family experience in politics, Romney had been thinking about becoming a candidate himself for some time. He decided to take on longtime incumbent Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, who was more
vulnerable than usual in 1994 (a big year for Republicans often called the Republican Revolution) – 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. Romney changed his affiliation from Independent to Republican in October 1993 and formally announced his candidacy in February 1994. He stepped down from his position at Bain Capital during the run.
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. In the general election, Kennedy faced the first serious re-election challenger of his career in the young, telegenic, and very well-funded Romney. 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. Romney stated: “Ultimately, this is a campaign about change.” After two decades out of public view, his father George re-emerged during the campaign as well.
Romney’s campaign was effective in portraying Kennedy as soft on crime, but had trouble establishing its own positions in a consistent manner. By mid-September 1994, polls showed the race to be approximately even. 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 a paper products plant owned by Romney’s Bain Capital. 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. 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 Feinstein–Michael Huffington Senate race in California).
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, the smallest margin in Kennedy’s eight re-election campaigns for the Senate.
2002 Gubernatorial Campaign
In 2002, Republican Acting Governor Jane Swift‘s administration was plagued by political missteps and personal scandals. Many Republicans viewed her as a liability and considered her unable to win a general election against a Democrat. Prominent GOP activists campaigned to persuade Romney to run for governor. One poll taken at that time showed Republicans favoring Romney over Swift by more than 50 percentage points. In March 2002, Swift decided not to seek her party’s nomination, and so Romney was unopposed in the Republican party primary.
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. In June 2002, the Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission unanimously ruled that Romney was eligible to run for office.
Romney ran as a political outsider again. 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. The campaign was the first to use microtargeting techniques, in which fine-grained groups of voters were reached with narrowly tailored messaging. Romney contributed over $6 million to his own campaign during the election, a state record at the time. 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.
Taxing and Spending
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. He picked his cabinet and advisors more on managerial abilities than partisan affiliation. 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. 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. Through a combination of spending cuts, increased fees, and removal of corporate tax loopholes, by 2006 the state had a $600–700 million surplus.
Romney supported raising various fees by more than $300 million, including those for driver’s licenses, marriage licenses, and gun licenses. Romney increased a special gasoline retailer fee by 2 cents per gallon, generating about $60 million per year in additional revenue. Romney also closed tax loopholes that brought in another $181 million from businesses over the next two years.
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. 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. 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.
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. The combined state and local tax burden in Massachusetts increased during Romney’s governorship but still was below the national average. 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).
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 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. Despite not having campaigned on the idea of universal health insurance, 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.
In particular, Romney successfully pushed for incorporating an individual mandate at the state level. Past rival Ted Kennedy, who had made universal heath coverage his life’s work and who over time developed a warm relationship with Romney, gave Romney’s plan a positive reception, which encouraged Democratic legislators to work with it. 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.
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. 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. The law was the first of its kind in the nation and became the signature achievement of Romney’s term in office.
At the beginning of his governorship, Romney opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions, but advocated tolerance and supported some domestic partnership benefits. 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. 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. 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. In 2004 and 2006 he urged the U.S. Senate to vote in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.
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. He vetoed a bill on pro-life grounds that would expand access to emergency contraception in hospitals and pharmacies.
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. 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.
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. Given a prime-time appearance at the 2004 Republican National Convention, Romney was already being discussed as a potential 2008 presidential candidate. Midway through his term, Romney decided that he wanted to stage a full-time run for president, and on December 14, 2005, Romney announced that he would not seek re-election for a second term as governor. As chair of the Republican Governors Association, Romney traveled around the country, meeting prominent Republicans and building a national political network; he spent part or all of more than 200 days out of state during 2006, preparing for his run. Romney’s frequent out-of-state travel contributed towards his approval rating declining in public polls towards the end of his term. He conceded that 2006 would be a difficult year for Republicans and that they would likely lose gubernatorial seats, including possibly his own. 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. Romney filed to register a presidential campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission on his penultimate day in office as governor. 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. 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. He said, “Throughout my life, I have pursued innovation and transformation,” and casting himself as a political outsider (for the third time), said, “I do not believe Washington can be transformed from within by a lifelong politician.”
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,which matched the commonly held notion that American industry had star players who could straighten out what was wrong in the nation’s capital. 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. Ann Romney, who had become an outspoken advocate for those with multiple sclerosis, was in remission and would be an active participant in his campaign, helping to soften his political personality. 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. The candidate’s Mormon religion was also viewed with suspicion and skepticism by some in the Evangelical portion of the party.
Romney assembled for his campaign a veteran group of Republican staffers, consultants, and pollsters. He was little-known nationally, though, and stayed around the 10 percent range in Republican preference polls for the first half of 2007. 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. He proved the most effective fundraiser of any of the Republican candidates, with his Olympics ties helping him with fundraising from Utah residents and from sponsors and trustees of the games. He also partially financed his campaign with his own personal fortune. These resources, combined with his August 2007 win in the Iowa Straw Poll and the 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. Romney’s staff suffered from internal strife and the candidate himself was indecisive at times, constantly asking for more data before making a decision.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.
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. 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. A couple of days later, Romney won the lightly contested Wyoming Republican caucuses. At a Saint Anselm College debate, Huckabee and McCain pounded away at Romney’s image as a flip flopper. Indeed, this label would stick to Romney through the campaign (but was one that Romney rejected as unfair and inaccurate, except for his acknowledged change of mind on abortion). 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.” 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.
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. 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. 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. McCain gained further momentum with his win in South Carolina, leading to a showdown between him and Romney in the Florida primary.
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. Although many Republican officials were now lining up behind McCain, 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. 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.
Altogether, Romney had won 11 primaries and caucuses, received about 4.7 million total votes, and garnered about 280 delegates. Romney spent $110 million during the campaign, including $45 million of his own money.
Romney endorsed McCain for president a week later. 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. 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. 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. McCain, behind in the polls, opted instead for a high-risk, high-reward “game changer” and selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. 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 and to build up a political infrastructure for what might become a $1 billion campaign three years hence. He also had a network of former staff and supporters around the nation who were eager for him to run again. He continued to give speeches and raise campaign funds on behalf of fellow Republicans. He served on the board of directors of Marriott International in 2010, then stepped down from it in early 2011.
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. 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.
Romney’s book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, was released on March 2, 2010; an 18-state promotional book tour was
undertaken. The book, which debuted atop the New York Times Best Seller list, 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.
Romney campaigned heavily for Republican candidates around the nation in the 2010 midterm elections, and raised the most funds of any of the prospective 2012 Republican Presidential candidates. 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.
2012 Presidential Campaign
On April 11, 2011, Romney announced 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.” 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.”
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. 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. 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. 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.
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”. 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.”
Romney took the early fundraising lead, raising four times more in the second quarter of 2011 than his nearest Republican opponent.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.
Shifting Political Positions
For much of his business career, Romney had no tangible record of political positions taken. He followed national politics avidly
in college, and the circumstances of his father’s presidential campaign loss would grate on him for decades, 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. Until his 1994 U.S. Senate campaign, he was registered as an Independent. In the 1992 Democratic Party presidential primaries, he had voted for the Democratic former senator from the state, Paul Tsongas.
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.”
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.
Romney has been consistent in many of his political positions. However, Romney’s position or choice of emphasis on certain social
issues, including abortion, some aspects of gay rights, some aspects of stem cell research, and some aspects of abstinence-only
sex education, evolved into a more conservative stance during his time as governor. 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. 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.”
This increased alignment with traditional conservatives on social issues coincided with Romney’s becoming a candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination for President, and also included a new-found admiration for the National Rifle Association paired with ineptly attempting to portray himself as a lifelong hunter (who never had a hunting license), rarely mentioning his Massachusetts health care law, being a convert on signing an anti-tax pledge,and displaying bluster or boldness on foreign policy matters (such as wanting to double the number of detainees at the Guantanamo Baydetention camp). In response, many skeptics, including a number of Republicans, charged Romney with opportunism and having a lack of core principles. The fervor with which Romney adopted his new stances and attitudes contributed to the perception of inauthenticity which hampered that campaign.
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. 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 healthcare reform passed during Romney’s term; as one Associated Press article stated, “Obamacare … looks a lot like Romneycare.”
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. He has focused on its being the right answer to Massachusetts’ specific problems at the time. 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.”
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.
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