Mitt Romney (page 2)

Local LDS Church leadership

During his years in business, Romney also served in the local lay clergy.[11] Around 1977, he became a counselor to a Boston-area leader.[62] He then served as ward bishop for Belmont, Massachusetts, from 1981 to 1986, acting as the ecclesiastical and administrative head of his congregation.[86][87] As such, he formulated Sunday services and classes, using the LDS scriptures to guide the congregation, and also did home teaching.[88] He forged bonds with other religious institutions in the area when the Belmont meetinghouse was destroyed by a fire of suspicious origins in 1984; the congregation rotated its meetings to other houses of worship while it was rebuilt.[83][87]

From 1986 to 1994, Romney presided over the Boston Stake, which included more than a dozen congregations in eastern Massachusetts with a total of about 4,000 church members.[62][88][89] 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.[83][87] An unpaid position, Romney's local church leadership often took 30 or more hours a week of his time,[88] and he became known for his unflagging energy in the role.[62] He generally refrained from overnight business travel owing to his church responsibilities.[88]

Romney took a hands-on role in general matters, helping in maintenance efforts in- and outside homes, visiting the sick, and counseling troubled or burdened church members.[86][87][88] A number of local church members later credited Romney with turning their lives around or helping them through difficult times.[83][87][88] Some others were rankled by his leadership style and desired a more consensus-based approach.[87] Romney tried to balance the conservative dogma insisted upon by the church leadership in Utah with the desire of some Massachusetts members to have a more flexible application of doctrine.[62] He agreed with some modest requests from the liberal women's group 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.[62] In particular, he counseled women not to have abortions except in the rare cases allowed by LDS doctrine, and also in accordance with doctrine, encouraged prospective mothers who were not in successful marriages to give up children for adoption.[62] Romney later said that the years spent as an LDS minister gave him direct exposure to people struggling in economically difficult circumstances, and empathy for those going through problematic family situations.[90]

1994 U.S. senatorial campaign

By 1994, Romney had been thinking about entering politics for a while.[43] He decided to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, who was seeking re-election for the sixth time. Kennedy was potentially 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 Kennedy had taken some public relations hits regarding his character.[91][92][93] Romney changed his affiliation from Independent to Republican in October 1993 and formally announced his candidacy in February 1994.[43] He took a leave of absence from Bain Capital in November 1993, and stepped down from his church leadership role during 1994, due to the campaign.[94][88]

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.[95][96] He won 68 percent of the vote at the May 1994 Massachusetts Republican Party convention; businessman John Lakian finished a distant second and Jeghelian was eliminated.[97] Romney defeated Lakian in the September 1994 primary with over 80 percent of the vote.[14][98]

In the general election, Kennedy faced the first serious re-election challenger of his career in the young, telegenic, and well-funded Romney.[91] Romney ran as a fresh face, as a businessperson who stated he had created ten thousand jobs, and as a Washington outsider with a solid family image and moderate stances on social issues.[91][99] 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."[100] Romney stated: "Ultimately, this is a campaign about change."[101] After two decades out of public view, his father George re-emerged during the campaign as well.[102][103]

Romney's campaign was effective in portraying Kennedy as soft on crime, but had trouble establishing its own positions in a consistent manner.[104] By mid-September 1994, polls showed the race to be approximately even.[91][105][106] Kennedy responded with a series of attack ads, which focused on Romney's seemingly shifting political views on issues such as abortion and on the treatment of workers at the Ampad plant owned by Romney's Bain Capital.[91][107][108] The latter was effective in blunting Romney's momentum.[65] 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.[109] Romney spent $3 million of his own money in the race.[nb 10] 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.[51]

2002 Winter Olympics

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

Romney returned to Bain Capital the day after the election, but the loss had a lasting effect; he told his brother, "I never want to run for something again unless I can win."[43][113] When his father died in 1995, Mitt donated his inheritance to BYU's George W. Romney Institute of Public Management and joined the board and was vice-chair of the Points of Light Foundation (which had incorporated his father's National Volunteer Center).[42][76] His mother died in 1998. Romney felt restless as the decade neared a close; the goal of simply making more money was losing its appeal to him.[43][113] He no longer had a church leadership position, although he still taught Sunday School.[86] During the long and controversial approval and construction process for the $30 million Mormon temple in Belmont, Romney feared that as a political figure who had opposed Kennedy, he would become a focal point for opposition to the structure.[87] He thus kept to a limited, behind-the-scenes role in attempts to ease tensions between the church and local residents, but locals nonetheless sometimes referred to it as "Mitt's Temple".[83][86][87]

Ann Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998; Romney described watching her fail a series of neurological tests as the worst day of his life.[43] After 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 mixture of mainstream, alternative, and equestrian therapies that gave her a lifestyle mostly without limitations.[50] When the offer came for Romney to take over the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, to be held in Salt Lake City in Utah, she urged him to take it, and eager for a new challenge, he did.[113][114] On February 11, 1999, Romney was hired as the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games of 2002.[115]

Before Romney came on, the event was running $379 million short of its revenue benchmarks.[115] Plans were being made to scale back the games to compensate for the fiscal crisis, and there were fears the games might be moved away entirely.[116] The Games had also been damaged by allegations of bribery involving top officials, including prior Salt Lake Olympic Committee president and CEO Frank Joklik. Joklik and committee vice president Dave Johnson were forced to resign.[117] Romney was chosen by Utah figures looking for someone with expertise in business and law and with connections to the state and the LDS Church.[118] The appointment faced some initial criticism from non-Mormons, and fears from Mormons, that it represented cronyism or gave the games too Mormon an image.[28]

Romney revamped the organization's leadership and policies, reduced budgets, and boosted fund raising. He soothed worried corporate sponsors and recruited many new ones.[113][118] He admitted past problems, listened to local critics, and appealed to Utah's citizenry with a message of optimism.[113] Romney worked to ensure the safety of the Games following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by coordinating a $300 million security budget.[114] Overall, he oversaw a $1.32 billion budget, 700 employees, and 26,000 volunteers.[115] The federal government provided $382 million of that budget,[118] much of it because Romney lobbied Congress to provide money for security- and non-security-related items.[119] An additional federal $1.1 billion was spent on indirect support in the form of highway and transit projects.[119]

Romney became the public face of the Olympic effort, appearing in countless photographs and news stories and even on Olympics souvenir pins.[113] Romney's omnipresence irked those who thought he was taking too much of the credit for the success, had exaggerated the state of initial distress, or was primarily looking to improve his own image.[113][118]

Despite the initial fiscal shortfall, the Games ended up clearing a profit of $100 million,[120] not counting the $224.5 million in security costs contributed by outside sources.[121] His performance as Olympics head was rated positively by 87 percent of Utahns.[122] Romney and his wife contributed $1 million to the Olympics, and he donated to charity the $1.4 million in salary and severance payments he received for his three years as president and CEO.[123]

Romney was widely praised for his efforts with the 2002 Winter Olympics[114] including by President George W. Bush,[23] and it solidified his reputation as a turnaround artist.[118] Harvard Business School taught a case study based around his actions.[58] He 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.[113] He was mentioned as a possible candidate for statewide office in both Massachusetts and Utah, and also as possibly joining the Bush administration.[114][124][125]

Governor of Massachusetts

2002 gubernatorial campaign

In 2002, Republican Acting Governor Jane Swift's administration was plagued by political missteps and personal scandals.[122] Many Republicans viewed her as a liability and considered her unable to win a general election.[126] Prominent party figures campaigned to persuade Romney to run for governor,[124] and the opportunity appealed to him for its national visibility.[127] One poll taken at that time showed Republicans favoring Romney over Swift by more than 50 percentage points.[128] On March 19, 2002, Swift announced she would not seek her party's nomination, and hours later Romney declared his candidacy,[128] for which would face no opposition in the primary.[129] In June 2002, Massachusetts Democratic Party officials contested Romney's eligibility to run for governor, citing residency issues involving his time in Utah for the Olympics.[130] That same month, the Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission unanimously ruled that he was an eligible candidate.[131]

He again ran as a political outsider,[122] saying he was "not a partisan Republican" but rather a "moderate" with "progressive" views.[132] Supporters of Romney hailed his business success, especially with the Olympics, as the record of someone who would be able to bring a new era of efficiency into Massachusetts politics.[129] The campaign was the first to use microtargeting techniques, in which fine-grained groups of voters were reached with narrowly tailored messaging.[133] Nevertheless, Romney initially had difficulty connecting with voters and fell behind his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, in polls before rebounding.[134] During the election he contributed over $6 million to his own campaign, a state record at the time.[122][135] Romney was elected governor on November 5, 2002, with 50 percent of the vote to O'Brien's 45 percent.[136]

Tenure, 2003–2007

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

When he was sworn in as the 70th governor of Massachusetts on January 2, 2003, [137] both houses of the Massachusetts state legislature held large Democratic majorities.[138] He picked his cabinet and advisors more on managerial abilities than partisan affiliation.[20] 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.[125] 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.[139][140] Through a combination of spending cuts, increased fees, and removal of corporate tax loopholes,[139] the state ran surpluses of around $600–700 million for the last two full fiscal years Romney was in office, although it began running deficits again after that.[nb 11]

Romney supported raising various fees by more than $300 million, including those for driver's licenses, marriage licenses, and gun licenses.[125][139] He increased a special gasoline retailer fee by two cents per gallon, generating about $60 million per year in additional revenue.[125][139] (Opponents said the reliance on fees sometimes imposed a hardship on those who could least afford them.)[139] 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.[125][145] Romney did so in the face of conservative and corporate critics that considered them tax increases.[145]

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.[146] 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.[125][139] Romney sought additional cuts in his last year as governor by vetoing nearly 250 items in the state budget, but all were overridden by the heavily Democratic legislature.[147]

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.[125][139] The combined state and local tax burden in Massachusetts increased during Romney's governorship but remained below the national average.[125]

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,[148][149][150] and after 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.[20][148][151] Although he had not campaigned on the idea of universal health insurance,[150] 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.[149][150]

After positing that any measure adopted not raise taxes and not resemble the previous decade's failed "Hillarycare" proposal, Romney formed a team of consultants from diverse political backgrounds.[20][148][151] Beginning in late 2004, they came up with a set of proposals more ambitious than an incremental one from the Massachusetts Senate and more acceptable to him than one from the Massachusetts House of Representatives that incorporated a new payroll tax.[20][148][151] In particular, Romney pushed for incorporating an individual mandate at the state level.[13] Past rival Ted Kennedy, who had made universal heath coverage his life's work and who, over time, had developed a warm relationship with Romney,[152] gave the plan a positive reception, which encouraged Democratic legislators to cooperate.[148][151] 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.[148][151]

"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."

—Mitt Romney upon passage of the Massachusetts health reform law in 2006.[148]

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.[153] The bill also establishes means-tested state subsidies for people who do not have adequate employer insurance and whose income is below a threshold, with funds that were previously used to compensate for the health costs of the uninsured.[154][155][156] 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.[153][157] The legislature overrode all eight vetoes, but the governor's office said the differences were not essential.[157] The law was the first of its kind in the nation and became the signature achievement of Romney's term in office.[151][nb 12]

At the beginning of his governorship, Romney opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions, but advocated tolerance and supported some domestic partnership benefits.[151][159][160] 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.[161] 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.[159][162] In June 2005, Romney abandoned his support for the compromise amendment, stating that the amendment confused voters who oppose both same-sex marriage and civil unions.[159] Instead, Romney endorsed a petition effort led by the Coalition for Marriage & Family that would have banned same-sex marriage and made no provisions for civil unions.[159] In 2004 and 2006, he urged the U.S. Senate to vote in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.[163][164]

In 2005, Romney revealed a change of view regarding abortion, moving from the "unequivocal" pro-choice position expressed during his 2002 campaign to a pro-life one in opposition to Roe v. Wade.[151] He subsequently vetoed a bill on pro-life grounds that would expand access to emergency contraception in hospitals and pharmacies[165] (the veto was overridden by the legislature).[166]

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.[151] Romney 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.[151]

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.[125][167] He was given a prime-time appearance at the 2004 Republican National Convention, and was already being discussed as a potential 2008 presidential candidate.[168] Midway through his term, Romney decided that he wanted to stage a full-time run for president,[169] and on December 14, 2005, announced that he would not seek re-election for a second term.[170][171] As chair of the Republican Governors Association, Romney traveled around the country, meeting prominent Republicans and building a national political network;[169] he spent part or all of more than 200 days out of state during 2006, preparing for his run.[172] Romney's frequent out-of-state travel contributed to a decline in his approval rating in public polls towards the end of his term.[173] 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.[173]

Romney filed to register a presidential campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission on his penultimate day in office as governor.[174] His term ended January 4, 2007.

2008 presidential campaign

Mitt Romney addressing an audience from atop a stage
Romney holding an "Ask Mitt Anything" session in Ames, Iowa, in May 2007
Casual photograph of Mitt and Ann Romney outdoors with wind blowing her hair
Romneys on Mackinac Island at the 2007 Republican Convention
Mitt Romney surrounded by people, holding a microphone and smiling
Romney at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, in mid-January 2008

Romney formally announced his candidacy for the 2008 Republican nomination for president on February 13, 2007, at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.[175] 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.[175][176] He said, "Throughout my life, I have pursued innovation and transformation,"[176] and casting himself as a political outsider, said, "I do not believe Washington can be transformed from within by a lifelong politician."[177]

The assets that Romney's campaign initially emphasized included his résumé of a highly profitable career in the business world and his stewardship of the Olympics.[169][178][nb 13] He also had political experience as governor, together with a political pedigree courtesy of his father, and had a reputation for a strong work ethic and energy level.[169][178][181] Ann Romney, who had become an outspoken advocate for those with multiple sclerosis,[182] was in remission and would be an active participant in his campaign,[183] helping to soften his political personality.[181] Moreover, a number of commentators noted that with his square jaw and ample hair graying at the temples, the 6-foot-2-inch (1.88 m)[184] Romney – referred to as handsome in scores of media stories[185] – physically matched one of the common images of what some believed a president should look like.[61][186][187][188] 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.[169][178][183] His religion was also viewed with suspicion and skepticism by some in the Evangelical portion of the party.[189]

Romney assembled for his campaign a veteran group of Republican staffers, consultants, and pollsters.[178][190] He was little-known nationally, though, and stayed around the 10 percent range in Republican preference polls for the first half of 2007.[169] He proved the most effective fundraiser of any of the Republican candidates;[191] his Olympics ties helped him with fundraising from Utahns and from sponsors and trustees of the games.[123] He also partly financed his campaign with his own personal fortune.[178] 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.[192] Romney's staff suffered from internal strife and the candidate himself was indecisive at times, constantly asking for more data before making a decision.[178][193]

During all of his political campaigns, Romney has generally avoided speaking publicly about specific Mormon doctrines, referring to the U.S. Constitution prohibition of religious tests for public office.[194] But persistent questions about the role of religion in Romney's life in this race, 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.[195] He said should neither be elected nor rejected based upon his religion,[196] 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."[195] Instead of discussing the specific tenets of his faith, he said that he would be informed by it and that, "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."[195][196] Academics would later study the role religion had played in the campaign.[nb 14]

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.[199][200] 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.[199] Two days later, Romney won the lightly contested Wyoming Republican caucuses.[201]

At a Saint Anselm College debate, Huckabee and McCain pounded away at Romney's image as a flip flopper.[199] Indeed, this label would stick to Romney through the campaign[178] (but was one that Romney rejected as unfair and inaccurate, except for his acknowledged change of mind on abortion).[181][202] 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."[181][203] 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.[181]

Romney finished in second place by 5 percentage points to the resurgent McCain in the next-door-to-his-home-state New Hampshire primary on January 8.[199] Romney rebounded to win the January 15 Michigan primary over McCain by a solid margin, capitalizing on his childhood ties to the state and his vow to bring back lost automotive industry jobs which was seen by several commentators as unrealistic.[nb 15] 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.[208] McCain gained further momentum with his win in South Carolina, leading to a showdown between him and Romney in the Florida primary.[209][210]

For ten days, Romney campaigned intensively on economic issues and the burgeoning subprime mortgage crisis, while McCain repeatedly, and inaccurately, asserted that Romney favored a premature withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.[nb 16] McCain won key last-minute endorsements from Florida Senator Mel Martinez and Governor Charlie Crist, which helped push him to a 5 percentage point victory on January 29.[209][210] Although many Republican officials were now lining up behind McCain,[210] 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.[212] 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.[212]

Altogether, Romney had won 11 primaries and caucuses,[213] received about 4.7 million total votes,[214] and garnered about 280 delegates.[215] He spent $110 million during the campaign, including $45 million of his own money.[216]

Romney endorsed McCain for president a week later.[215] He 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.[217] 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 economic expertise would have balanced one of McCain's weaknesses.[218] McCain, behind in the polls, opted instead for a high-risk, high-reward "game changer", and selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.[219] McCain lost the election to Democratic Senator Barack Obama.

Activity between presidential campaigns

Photograph of Ann Romney taken in a hall, with large video screen and American flag in background
Both Mitt Romney and his wife Ann (pictured) spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2011

Following the election, Romney paved the way for a possible 2012 presidential campaign by using his Free and Strong America political action committee (PAC) to raise money for other Republican candidates and to pay his existing political staff's salaries and consulting fees.[220][221] An informal network of former staff and supporters around the nation were eager for him to run again.[222] He continued to give speeches and raise funds for Republicans,[223] but turned down many potential media appearances, fearing overexposure.[202] He also spoke before business, educational, and motivational groups.[224] He served on the board of directors of Marriott International for a second time (his first tenure was from 1993 to 2002) from 2009 to 2011.[225]

In 2009, the Romneys sold their main home in Belmont and their ski house in Utah, leaving them an estate along Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and an oceanfront home in the La Jolla district of San Diego, California, which they had bought the year before.[202][226][227] The San Diego home was beneficial in location and climate for Ann Romney's multiple sclerosis therapies and for recovering from her late 2008 diagnosis and lumpectomy for mammary ductal carcinoma in situ.[226][228][229] Both it and the New Hampshire location were near some of the Romneys' grandchildren,[226] who by 2011 numbered sixteen.[230] Romney maintained his voting registration in Massachusetts, however, and bought a smaller condominium in Belmont during 2010.[228][231][nb 17] In February 2010, Romney had a minor altercation with LMFAO member Skyler Gordy, known as Sky Blu, on an airplane flight.[nb 18]

Romney's book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, was released in March 2010; an 18-state book tour was undertaken.[238] The book, which debuted atop The New York Times Best Seller list,[239] avoided anecdotes about Romney's personal or political life in favor of a presentation of his economic and geopolitical views.[240][241] Earnings from the book were donated to charity.[81]

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.[242] Romney campaigned heavily for Republican candidates in the 2010 midterm elections,[243] raising more money than the other prospective 2012 Republican presidential candidates.[244] Beginning in early 2011, Romney presented a more relaxed visual image, including rarely wearing a necktie.[245][246]

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 in 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.[247][248] A 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."[248]

Romney stood to gain from the Republican electorate's tendency to nominate candidates who had previously run for president and appeared to be "next in line" to be chosen.[222][249][250] 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.[251][252][253] 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.[246][248][250] 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.[251][253]

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.[254] 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."[250]

Mitt Romney giving an interview at a supporters rally in Paradise Valley, Arizona

Romney raised $56 million during 2011, far more than any of his Republican opponents,[255] and refrained from spending any of his own money on his campaign.[256] He initially ran a low-key, low-profile campaign.[257] Michele Bachmann staged a brief surge in polls, then by September 2011, Romney's chief rival in polls was a recent entrant, Texas Governor Rick Perry.[258] Perry and Romney exchanged sharp criticisms of each other during a series of debates among the Republican candidates.[259] The October 2011 decisions of Chris Christie and Sarah Palin not to run finally settled the field.[260][261] Perry faded after poor performances in those debates, while Herman Cain's long-shot bid gained popularity until allegations of sexual misconduct derailed him.[262][263]

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.[260][264][265] After the charges of flip-flopping that marked his 2008 campaign began to accumulate again, Romney declared in November 2011 that "I've been as consistent as human beings can be."[266][267][268] In the final month before voting began, Newt Gingrich enjoyed a major surge, taking a solid lead in national polls and in most of the early caucus and primary states,[269] before settling back into parity or worse with Romney following a barrage of negative ads from Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney Super PAC.[270]

In the initial 2012 Iowa caucuses of January 3, Romney was announced as the victor on election night with 25 percent of the vote, edging out a late-gaining Rick Santorum by eight votes (with an also-strong Ron Paul finishing third),[271] but sixteen days later, Santorum was certified as the winner by a 34-vote margin.[272] Romney decidedly won the New Hampshire primary the following week with a total of 39 percent; Paul finished second and Jon Huntsman third.[273]

In the run-up to the South Carolina Republican primary, Gingrich launched attack ads criticizing Romney for causing job losses while at Bain Capital, Perry referred to Romney's role there as "vulture capitalism", and Sarah Palin questioned whether Romney could prove his claim that 100,000 jobs were created during that time.[274][275] Many conservatives rallied in defense of Romney, rejecting what they inferred as criticism of free-market capitalism.[274] However, during two debates, Romney fumbled questions about releasing his income tax returns, while Gingrich gained support with audience-rousing attacks on the debate moderators.[276][277] Romney's double-digit lead in state polls evaporated and he lost to Gingrich by 13 points in the January 21 primary.[276] Combined with the delayed loss in Iowa, Romney's admitted bad week represented a lost chance to end the race early, and he decided to release his tax returns quickly.[276][278] The race turned to the Florida Republican primary, where in debates, appearances, and advertisements, Romney unleashed a concerted, unrelenting attack on Gingrich's past record and associations and current electability.[279][280] Romney enjoyed a big 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.[281]

Romney at his local voting station on Super Tuesday 2012

February saw a number of caucuses and primaries; Santorum won three in a single night early in the month, propelling him into a lead in national and some state polls and positioning him as Romney's main rival,[282] while Romney won the other five, including a closely fought contest in his home state of Michigan at the end of the month.[283][284] In the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses of March 6, Romney won six of ten contests, including a narrow victory in Ohio over a greatly outspent Santorum, and although he failed to win decisively enough to end the race, still held a more than two-to-one edge over Santorum in delegates.[285] Romney maintained his delegate margin through subsequent contests,[286] and Santorum stopped his campaign on April 10.[287] Following a sweep of five more contests on April 24, the Republican National Committee put its resources behind Romney as the party's presumptive nominee.[288]

Political positions and public perceptions

For much of his business career, Romney did not take public political positions.[289][290] He had kept track of national politics while in college,[30] and the circumstances of his father's presidential campaign loss would grate on him for decades,[18] 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.[11][58] Until his 1994 U.S. Senate campaign, he was registered as an Independent.[43] In the 1992 Democratic Party presidential primaries, he voted for the Democratic former senator from the state, Paul Tsongas.[289][291]

In the 1994 Senate race, Romney aligned himself with Republican Massachusetts Governor William Weld, 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."[292] As a gubernatorial candidate in 2002, and then initially as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney 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.[291][293]

Later during his time as governor, Romney's position on abortion changed in conjunction with a similar change of position on stem cell research.[151][nb 19] Also during that time, his position or choice of emphasis on some aspects of gay rights,[nb 20] and some aspects of abstinence-only sex education,[nb 21] evolved in a more conservative direction. The change in 2005 on abortion was the result of what Romney described as an epiphany experienced while investigating stem cell research issues.[151] 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."[151]

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

This increased alignment with traditional conservatives on social issues coincided with Romney's becoming a candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination for President.[300][301] He displayed a new-found admiration for the National Rifle Association and portrayed himself as a lifelong hunter.[nb 22] He downplayed the Massachusetts health care law,[13][291][301] became a convert on signing an anti-tax pledge,[58][13] and backed away from further closings of corporate tax loopholes.[145] There was a display of aggressiveness on foreign policy matters, such as wanting to double the number of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[301] Skeptics, including some Republicans, charged Romney with opportunism and having a lack of core principles.[151][178][291] The fervor with which Romney adopted his new stances and attitudes contributed to the perception of inauthenticity which hampered that campaign.[58][245]

While there have been many biographical parallels between the lives of George and Mitt Romney,[nb 23] one particular difference is that while George was willing to defy political trends, Mitt has been much more willing to adapt to them.[13][20] Mitt Romney has said that learning from experience and changing views accordingly is a virtue, and that, "If you're looking for someone who's never changed any positions on any policies, then I'm not your guy."[307] Romney responded to criticisms of ideological pandering with the explanation that "The older I get, the smarter Ronald Reagan gets."[183]

Journalist Daniel Gross sees Romney as approaching politics in the same terms as a business competing in markets, in that successful executives do not hold firm to public stances over long periods of time, but rather constantly devise new strategies and plans to deal with new geographical regions and ever-changing market conditions.[291] Political profiler Ryan Lizza notes the same question regarding whether Romney's business skills can be adapted to politics, saying that "while giving customers exactly what they want may be normal in the corporate world, it can be costly in politics".[58] Writer Robert Draper holds a somewhat similar perspective: "The Romney curse was this: His strength lay in his adaptability. In governance, this was a virtue; in a political race, it was an invitation to be called a phony."[181] Writer Benjamin Wallace-Wells sees Romney as a detached problem solver rather than one who approaches political issues from a humanistic or philosophical perspective.[65] Journalist Neil Swidey views Romney as a political and cultural enigma, "the product of two of the most mysterious and least understood subcultures in the country: the Mormon Church and private-equity finance," and believes that has led to the continued interest in a 1983 episode in which Romney kept his family dog on the roof of his car during a long road trip.[nb 24] Political writer Joe Klein views Romney as actually more conservative on social issues than he portrayed himself during his Massachusetts campaigns and less conservative on other issues than his presidential campaigns have represented, and concludes that Romney "has always campaigned as something he probably is not."[311]

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.[312] 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."[312] While acknowledging that his plan was an imperfect work in progress, Romney did not back away from it, and has consistently defended its underpinning state-level health insurance mandate.[312][313] He has focused on its bipartisan support in the state legislature, the absence of Congressional Republican support for Obama's plan,[312] and has contended that it was the right answer to Massachusetts' specific problems at the time.[312][314] While Romney has not explicitly argued for a federally imposed mandate, and as of 2010 explicitly opposes one, during his 1994 Senate campaign he indicated he would vote for an overall health insurance proposal that contained one.[315][316] 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.[317][318][319]

Throughout his business, Olympics, and political career, Romney's instinct has been to apply the "Bain way" towards problems.[181][301][320] Romney has said, "There were two key things I learned at Bain. One was a series of concepts for approaching tough problems and a problem-solving methodology; the other was an enormous respect for data, analysis, and debate."[320] He has written, "There are answers in numbers – gold in numbers. Pile the budgets on my desk and let me wallow."[58] Romney believes the Bain approach is not only effective in the business realm but also in running for office and, once there, in solving political conundrums such as proper Pentagon spending levels and the future of Social Security.[301][320] Former Bain and Olympics colleague Fraser Bullock has said of Romney, "He's not an ideologue. He makes decisions based on researching data more deeply than anyone I know."[23] Romney's technocratic instincts have thus always been with him; in his public appearances during the 2002 gubernatorial campaign he sometimes gave PowerPoint presentations rather than conventional speeches.[321] Upon taking office he became, in the words of The Boston Globe, "the state's first self-styled CEO governor".[125] During his 2008 presidential campaign, he constantly asked for data, analysis, and opposing arguments,[301] and has been viewed as a potential "CEO president".[291]

Awards and honors

Romney has received five honorary doctorates: an Honorary Doctor of Business from the University of Utah in 1999,[322] an Honorary Doctor of Law from Bentley College in 2002,[323] an Honorary Doctor of Public Administration from Suffolk University Law School in 2004,[324] an Honorary Doctor of Public Service from Hillsdale College in 2007,[325] and an Honorary Doctor of Humanities from Liberty University in 2012.[326]

People magazine included Romney in its 50 Most Beautiful People list for 2002.[327] In 2004, Romney received the inaugural Truce Ideal Award for his role in the 2002 Winter Olympics.[328] The Cranbrook School gave him their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005.[22] 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.[329] In 2012 Romney was named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.[330]

Author:Bling King
Published:May 19th 2012
Modified:May 19th 2012

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