Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mitt Romney - Biography and History

Mitt Romney

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Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney

In office
January 2, 2003January 4, 2007
Lieutenant(s) Kerry Healey
Preceded by Jane M. Swift (acting)
Succeeded by Deval Patrick

Born March 12, 1947 (1947-03-12) (age 60)
Detroit, Michigan
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse Ann Romney
Children five
Alma mater Brigham Young University, Harvard University
Religion LDS (Mormon)

Willard Mitt Romney (born March 12, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American businessman and politician. Formerly the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Romney is seeking the Republican nomination in the 2008 United States presidential election.[1]

Romney is a former CEO of Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, and the co-founder of Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm. After his business career and serving as the CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Romney was elected as the 70th Massachusetts Governor in 2002. Romney served one term and did not seek re-election in 2006; his term expired January 4, 2007.[2]



Early life and education

Romney is the son of former Michigan Governor and 1968 presidential candidate George W. Romney, and 1970 Michigan U.S. Senatorial candidate Lenore Romney. He was named "Willard" after hotel magnate J. Willard Marriott, his father's best friend. [3] Mitt, his middle name, comes from his father's cousin Milton Romney, who played quarterback for the Chicago Bears from 1925 to 1929.[4] Mitt Romney has three older siblings: Lynn Romney Keenan; Jane Romney Robinson; and G. Scott Romney. [5] He has been involved in politics from an early age, having joined his father in civil rights marches. [6]

Romney graduated from the Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1965.[7] After attending Stanford University for two quarters, Romney served in France for 30 months as a missionary for the LDS Church.[8]

In June 1968, Romney was involved in a serious car accident while driving fellow missionaries in southern France. Another vehicle hit Romney's car head on; the fault for the accident, which left one person dead, has been attributed to the driver of the other vehicle.[9]

After his mission service, Romney attended Brigham Young University, where he graduated as valedictorian, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude in 1971.

In 1975, Romney graduated from a joint Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration program coordinated between Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. He graduated cum laude from the law school and was named a Baker Scholar for graduating in the top five percent of his business school class. [10]

Business career

After graduation, Romney remained in Massachusetts and went to work for the Boston Consulting Group, where he had interned during the summer of 1974.[11] From 1978 to 1984, Romney was a vice president of Bain & Company, Inc., another management consulting firm based in Boston. In 1984, Romney left Bain & Company to co-found a spin-off private equity investment firm, Bain Capital.[12] During the 14 years he headed the company, Bain Capital's average annual internal rate of return on realized investments was 113 percent,[13] making money primarily through leveraged buyouts.[14] He invested in or bought many well-known companies such as Staples, Brookstone, Domino's, Sealy Corporation and Sports Authority.[15]

In 1990, Romney was asked to return to Bain & Company, which was facing financial collapse. As CEO, Romney managed an effort to restructure the firm's employee stock-ownership plan, real-estate deals and bank loans, while increasing fiscal transparency. Within a year, he had led Bain & Company through a highly successful turnaround and returned the firm to profitability without layoffs or partner defections.[13]

Romney left Bain Capital in 1998 to head the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee.[16] He and his wife have a net worth of between 190 and 250 million USD.[17]

CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics

Romney served as president and CEO of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games held in Salt Lake City. In 1999, the event was running $379 million short of its revenue benchmarks. Plans were being made to scale back the games in order to compensate for the fiscal crisis.[18] The Games were also damaged by allegations of bribery involving top officials, including then Salt Lake Olympic Committee (SLOC) President and CEO Frank Joklik. Joklik and SLOC vice president Dave Johnson were forced to resign.[19]

On February 11, 1999, Romney was hired as the new president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.[20] Romney revamped the organization's leadership and policies, reduced budgets and boosted fundraising. He also worked to ensure the safety of the Games following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by coordinating a $300 million security budget.[21] 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.[22][23]

Romney contributed $1 million to the Olympics, and donated the $825,000 salary he earned as President and CEO to charity.[24] He wrote a book about his experience titled Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games.[25]

Massachusetts political campaigns

Campaign for United States Senate, 1994

In 1994, Romney won the Massachusetts Republican Party's nomination for U.S. Senate after defeating businessman John Lakian in the primary.[26] Some early polls showed Romney close to Senator Ted Kennedy. One Boston Herald/WCVB-TV poll taken after the September 20, 1994 primary showed Romney ahead 44 percent to 42 percent, within the poll's sampling margin of error.[27] Kennedy, who typically faced only "token" GOP opposition for his senate seat was more vulnerable than usual in 1994, in part because of the unpopularity of the Democratic Congress as a whole and also because this was Kennedy's first election since the William Kennedy Smith trial in Florida, in which Ted Kennedy had taken some public relations hits regarding his character. President Bill Clinton traveled to Massachusetts to campaign for Kennedy.[28]

After Romney touted his business credentials and his record at creating jobs within his company, Kennedy ran campaign ads showing an Indiana company bought out by Romney's firm, Bain Capital, and interviews with its union workers who had been fired and criticized Romney for the loss of their jobs, one saying, "I don’t think Romney is creating jobs because he took every one of them away."[29] Although both Kennedy and Romney supported the abortion rights established under Roe v. Wade, Kennedy accused Romney of being "multiple choice" on the issue, rather than "pro choice."[30] Romney is now pro-life and opposes Roe.[31] According to figures in The Almanac of American Politics 1996, which relies on official campaign finance reports, 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 vs. Michael Huffington Senate race in California).[32] Kennedy won the election with 58 percent of the vote to Romney's 41 percent, the smallest margin in Kennedy's nine elections to the Senate through 2006.[33]

Campaign for Governor, 2002

In 2002, Republican Lieutenant Governor Jane Swift was expected to campaign for the governor's office. Swift had served as acting governor after Republican Governor Paul Cellucci resigned upon being appointed U.S. Ambassador to Canada. Swift was viewed as an unpopular executive, and her administration was plagued by political missteps and personal scandals.[34] Many Republicans viewed her as a liability and considered her unable to win a general election against a Democrat.[35] Prominent GOP activists campaigned to persuade Romney to run for governor.[36] One poll taken at this time showed that Republicans favored Romney over Swift by more than 50 percentage points.[37] Swift decided not to seek her party's nomination.

Massachusetts Democratic Party officials claimed that Romney was ineligible to run for governor, citing residency issues. The Massachusetts Constitution requires seven consecutive years of residency prior to a run for office. Romney claimed residency in Utah from 1999 to 2002, during his time as president of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee. In 1999 he listed himself as a part-time Massachusetts resident.[38] The Massachusetts Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission, which eventually ruled that Romney was eligible to run for office. The ruling was not challenged in court.[39]

Supporters of Romney hailed his business record, especially his success with the 2002 Olympics, as that of one who would be able to bring a new era of efficiency into Massachusetts politics.[40] Romney contributed $6.3 million to his own campaign during the election, at the time a state record.[41] Romney was elected Governor in November 2002 with 50 percent of the vote over Democratic candidate Shannon O'Brien, who received 45 percent of the vote.[42]

Governor of Massachusetts, 2003–2007

Governor Mitt Romney checked out the prototype of a one hundred dollar laptop in September of 2005, after filing education reform legislation.
Governor Mitt Romney checked out the prototype of a one hundred dollar laptop in September of 2005, after filing education reform legislation.

Romney was sworn in as the 70th governor of Massachusetts on January 2, 2003. Upon entering office, Romney faced a projected $3 billion deficit, but a previously enacted $1.3 billion capital gains tax increase and $500 million in unanticipated federal grants decreased the deficit to $1.2 billion.[43] Through a combination of spending cuts, increased fees, and removal of corporate tax loopholes, by 2006 the state had a $700 million surplus and was able to cut taxes.[44][45]

Romney supported raising various fees by more than $300 million, including raising fees for driver's licenses, marriage licenses, and gun licenses.[45] Romney increased the state gasoline tax by 2 cents per gallon, generating about $60 million per year in additional tax revenue.[46] Romney also closed tax loopholes that brought in another $181 million from businesses over the next two years.[46] 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. [47] 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%.[46] Romney sought additional cuts in his last year as Massachusetts governor by vetoing nearly 250 items in the state budget. All of those vetoes were overturned by the legislature.[48]

The combined state and local tax burden in Massachusetts increased during Romney's governorship.[46] According to the Tax Foundation, that per capita burden was 9.8% in 2002 (below the national average of 10.3%), and 10.5% in 2006 (below the national average of 10.8%).[49]

On April 12, 2006, Romney signed the Massachusetts health reform law which requires nearly all Massachusetts residents to buy health insurance coverage or else face a substantial penalty in the form of an additional income tax assessment. 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.[50] [51] [52] He vetoed eight sections of the health care legislation, including an employer assessment[53] and provisions providing health coverage to senior and disabled legal immigrants not eligible for federal Medicaid.[54] [55] The legislature overrode all eight vetoes. Romney's communications director Eric Fehrnstrom responded saying "These differences with the Legislature are not essential to the goal of getting everyone covered with insurance."

At the beginning of his governorship, Romney opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions.[56] [57] 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.[58] 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,[59] [60] no marriage licenses were to be issued to out-of-state same-sex couples not planning to move to Massachusetts. 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. 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.[61] In 2006 he urged the U.S. Senate to vote in favor of the Marriage Protection Amendment.[62][63]

On December 14, 2005, Romney announced that he would not seek re-election for a second term as governor.[64] Romney left office with a favorability rating of 43%. [65] Romney filed papers to establish a formal exploratory presidential campaign committee the next to last day in office as governor.[66] Romney's term ended January 4, 2007.

Campaign for United States President, 2008

2008 presidential campaign logo
2008 presidential campaign logo

Since the 2004 Republican National Convention, Romney had been discussed as a potential 2008 presidential candidate.[67] On January 3, 2007, two days before he stepped down as governor of Massachusetts, Romney filed to form a presidential exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission.[68][69] On February 13, 2007 Romney formally announced his candidacy for the 2008 Republican nomination for president.

In the January 2008 Iowa Caucus, the first contest of the primary elections, Romney received 25% of the vote and placed second to Mike Huckabee, who received 34%.[70][71] A few days later, Romney won the Wyoming Republican Caucuses.[72] Then, on January 8 of 2008, Romney finished in second place behind John McCain in the New Hampshire primary,[73] giving Romney an overall three-to-one lead over McCain, in delegates to the 2008 Republican National Convention.[74] In the January 15 Michigan primary, Romney won by 9 points with 39% of the vote, followed by McCain (30%), Huckabee (16%), and others.[75] On January 19, Romney won the Nevada caucuses, but placed fourth in the South Carolina primary.

Mitt Romney is partly financing his campaign with his own personal fortune, having contributed over $17 million of the $63 million raised by his campaign, as of January 20, 2008.[76]

Religious background

See also: Mitt Romney's "Faith in America" speech

Mitt Romney is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), also known as Mormons. His great-great-grandfather, Parley P. Pratt, was among the first leaders of that religion in the early 19th century. Mitt's wife Ann converted to the LDS church before they were married in 1969.[77] Ann's family could not attend their wedding ceremony that was held at a temple, due to a rule preventing non-members from entering LDS temples, but they attended another ceremony held for non-Mormons.[78] In addition to his missionary work in France, Romney has served as a part-time lay minister, called a bishop, and has also been a stake president in his church.[79] As part of his religious upbringing, Romney abstains from alcohol and smoking.[80][81][82]

Religion has played a major role in the 2008 presidential campaign, with polls indicating that a quarter of Republican voters are "less likely" to vote for a presidential candidate who is Mormon.[83][84] However, some social conservatives and evangelicals criticize Romney for not being Mormon enough, regarding social policy.[85][86] He has avoided speaking publicly about specific church doctrines, and has pointed out that the U.S. Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office.[83] Declining to discuss details about his religion also reduces the risk that doctrinal differences will alienate evangelical Christian voters.[85] Romney has instead addressed religion in general, saying that as president he would "need the prayers of the people of all faiths," and that he would "serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States."[83]

Polygamy remains an image problem for the LDS Church, although it renounced the practice over a century ago.[87] Romney has denounced polygamy, and is a proponent of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.[88] Romney's paternal great-grandparents practiced plural marriage, and went to Mexico in 1884 after an 1878 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld laws banning polygamy.[89] Subsequent generations of Romney's paternal lineage have been monogamous, and none of his mother's ancestors appear to have been polygamists.[90][91] Due to legal pressure by the U.S. federal government,[92] the LDS church renounced polygamy in 1890.[93] Mitt's father, George, was born in Mexico in 1907, and was brought to the United States in 1912 by Mitt's grandparents.[94] When his father ran for president in 1968, religion was not a factor. This shift is often attributed to the rise of the Christian movement in politics within the last twenty years.[citation needed]

Political positions

Romney invited Iowa voters to "Ask Mitt Anything" in May of 2007.
Romney invited Iowa voters to "Ask Mitt Anything" in May of 2007.

Some of Mitt Romney's political positions have changed over the course of his political career. He says that he has learned from experience, and that people can rely on him to keep his campaign promises.[95] As a candidate for the Republican nomination for President, Romney has increasingly expressed views in line with traditional conservatives on social issues.[96][97]

Romney was filmed participating in a Pro-Choice Planned Parenthood fundraiser in 1994 in conjunction with a $150 family contribution,[98] and has made many pro-choice comments in the past. Romney says he has changed positions, "acknowledged my error" and is therefore pro-life.[99][100] Romney says that he believes that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, that "abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother," and that "states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate."[100] As a candidate for office in Massachusetts, Romney claimed to hold liberal or moderate views on abortion; he explains his changing views as a process of evolution, contending that he has gradually come to agree with the conservative position on abortion.[101][102] Critics of Romney are less flattering and portray him as an opportunist. For example, Democratic U.S. Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts once said, "The real Romney is clearly an extraordinarily ambitious man with no perceivable political principle whatsoever. He is the most intellectually dishonest human being in the history of politics," to which a Romney spokesman replied that "We’ve never really paid much attention to what Barney Frank is saying, and we see no reason to start now."[103]

Romney has been a strong supporter of gun control legislation and enforcement, backing the Brady Bill, a five-day waiting period on gun sales, and a ban on certain assault weapons, and he still backs the ban on assault weapons.[104] Romney has also supported some legislation that was endorsed by the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners' Action League.[105] Romney also says he believes that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, rather than merely protecting a right of states.[106]

Romney welcomes increased legal immigration and supports giving "a biometrically-enabled and tamperproof card to non-citizens and ... a national database for non-citizens" in order to reduce illegal immigration.[107] Romney's lawn care company had illegal aliens working at his private residence for nearly a decade and Romney had them fired after the fact was revealed to him during his current campaign for President.[108]

Romney at a parade in Milford, New Hampshire; September 3, 2007
Romney at a parade in Milford, New Hampshire; September 3, 2007

As a candidate for governor in 2002, Romney said: "Call me old fashioned, but I don't support gay marriage nor do I support civil union."[109] During that 2002 campaign, he also supported hate crimes legislation and opposed discrimination against gays, while supporting some partner benefits for gays,[109] and he also opposed amending the state constitution to codify only traditional marriage because he believed the draft amendment would have outlawed other partner benefits.[110] When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of legalized same-sex marriage in 2003, Romney lobbied for a state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage but allow civil unions.[109] Romney explained in 2005: "From day one I've opposed the move for same-sex marriage and its equivalent, civil unions....I am only supporting civil unions if gay marriage is the alternative."[109] Romney continues to oppose both marriage and civil unions between people of the same sex.[111] Romney's tone on gay rights has been viewed by some as fluctuating, though he supported Bill Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy" in 1994, and continued to do so in 2007.[112][113]

Romney supported the invasion of Iraq,[114] and supports the "troop surge."[115] Upon hearing the testimony of David Petraeus, Romney reemphasized his agreement with current policy in Iraq and has called for a "Surge of Support" for the military. Romney has called for increased military spending to at least 4 percent of the United States GDP and wishes to increase the size of the military by at least 100,000 troops.[116]

Romney has focused on tax relief for "middle income Americans," and has advocated eliminating the capital gains tax for all those who earn less than $200,000 per year. [117] Romney has also advocated eliminating the estate tax,[118] signed a pledge to oppose "any and all efforts" to increase income taxes,[119] and promises to control spending by Congress.

Romney supports the death penalty, charter schools, and sentencing under the three strikes law.[120][121][122] Romney opposes the use of "torture";[123] however, he supports the limited use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," which he believes are not torture.[124]

Personal life

Ann Romney in 2007.
Ann Romney in 2007.

Soon after his return from missionary work in France, Romney married high school girlfriend Ann Davies on March 21, 1969.[125] They have five sons, born between 1970 and 1981,[126] and eleven grandchildren.[127]

Ann was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, which Mitt calls the worst day of his life. She is in remission and has been active in his 2008 presidential campaign.[128]

Their first son, Tagg, was born in 1970[126] while both were undergraduates at Brigham Young,[129] living in a $75-a-month basement apartment.[130] Ann Romney's work as a stay-at-home mom enabled her husband to pursue his career, first in business and then in politics.[131]

Mitt Romney is a jogger, and likes Roy Orbison’s music. As for his dislikes, they include “eggplant, in any shape or form.”[132]

Mitt and Ann Romney have three homes, one in Belmont, Massachusetts in the Boston suburbs, a lakeside house in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and a wood-beamed ski house in Deer Valley, Utah.[133]

Electoral history

See also


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