NPR : News

5 Things You May Not Know About Mitt Romney

Will the conventional take on Mitt Romney — that he aims to please everyone — take him to the convention in 2012 and on to the Republican presidential nomination?

Time will tell.

For now, the electorate is getting acquainted (and reacquainted) with the man who has seemingly been in the spotlight his whole life.

Born in 1947, Willard "Mitt" Romney is the youngest child of George Romney — an automobile executive, three-term governor of Michigan, himself a Republican presidential candidate, and secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Richard Nixon's first term.

Mitt Romney is a Mormon. He holds a law degree and an MBA from Harvard University. For two decades he worked with Bain & Co., a consulting firm in Boston, where he rose to CEO. His first political foray was ambitious: an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Massachusetts Democratic icon Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994. In 2002 he oversaw the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and then ran for governor of Massachusetts and won.

He sought the Republican nomination for president in 2008. He has been the subject of many books — some written by him, some by others. But here are five things you may not know about Romney:

1) He once spoke out against the Vietnam War. In 1970, a 23-year-old Mitt Romney was interviewed in The Boston Globe about the Vietnam War. "If it wasn't a political blunder to move into Vietnam," said Romney, whose father was then serving in Nixon's Cabinet, "I don't know what is."

2) He was once accused of "trying to bribe" a park ranger. In his new book, Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics, author Ronald B. Scott writes that when Romney was a young father, he led a family outing to a state park in Massachusetts. When Romney got ready to launch his unlicensed boat, a park ranger said it would cost him $50 if he did. Romney offered the ranger the money, was accused of trying to bribe the ranger, and was arrested for disorderly conduct. Charges were eventually dropped.

3) His wife's parents once opposed their marriage. Ann Davies' parents did not want their daughter marrying too young or converting to Mormonism, according to Ronald B. Scott. She converted at age 18, and married Romney just a month before turning 20. Ann's parents "were ardent advocates of zero population growth and wary of Mormonism, particularly the way it encourages large families," Scott writes. "Each time Ann gave birth to a new son [the Romneys had five], her parents grumbled openly that Ann and Mitt were overpopulating the earth ... Finally, in frustration, Ann delivered an ultimatum: Knock it off or you won't be seeing as much of your grandsons as you'd like."

4) He once spoke out in favor of big-box stores. When Romney was managing general partner of Bain Capital, his company invested in Staples office supply stores. Romney told The New York Times that he saw the deep-discount chain as "a classic 'category killer' like Toys 'R' Us."

5) He did not actively support California's Proposition 8 to eliminate the rights of same-sex couples to marry. "Although the Mormon Church actively supported Proposition 8 in California in 2008 and encouraged church members throughout the U.S. to contribute time and money to the cause, Mitt Romney did not get involved in the fundraising efforts, although some of his current staff members in California were key players in the [ultimately successful] Proposition 8 campaign," Ronald B. Scott says in an interview. Along similar lines, Scott adds: "After meeting with an apostle of the Mormon Church who was encouraging Mitt ... to get involved in getting Massachusetts to adopt a 'Definition of Marriage Amendment' to its constitution that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, Mitt emerged from the meeting and advised confidants: 'We're just not going to do that.' "

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


From Trembling Teacher To Seasoned Mentor: How Tim Gunn Made It Work

Gunn, the mentor to young designers on Project Runway, has been a teacher and educator for decades. But he spent his childhood "absolutely hating, hating, hating, hating school," he says.

How Do We Get To Love At 'First Bite'?

It's the season of food, and British food writer Bee Wilson has a book on how our food tastes are formed. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with her about her new book, "First Bite: How We Learn to Eat."

Osceola At The 50-Yard Line

The Seminole Tribe of Florida works with Florida State University to ensure it that its football team accurately presents Seminole traditions and imagery.

Reviving Payoff For Prediction – Of Terrorism Risk

Could an electronic market where people bet on the likelihood of attacks deter terrorism? NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Stephen Carter about the potential for a terror prediction market.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.