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


Peruvians Love Their Chicha Street Art. The Government ... Not So Much

Walk down a street in Peru and you'll likely see an example of the glow-in-the-dark posters and murals. Lots of people love them. But the upper crust — and the government — aren't impressed.

Tea-Infused Sweets: Chocolate + Jasmine Tea Is A Match Made In Heaven

Smoky and floral brews can provide a kick of flavor to desserts, especially when blended with chocolate. Pastry chef Naomi Gallego shows us a few tricks for surprising the palate with tea.

Carnival Receives U.S. Permission To Operate Cruises To Cuba

Carnival has received U.S. permission to begin operating cruises to Cuba. The cruises will be offered through the company's new fathom brand, a cruise line that specializes in what the company calls "social impact travel." Passengers will travel under the categories approved by the Treasury Department, allowing people to visit only if they engage in activities that support the Cuban people.
WAMU 88.5

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski

The president of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, chats about the future of higher education — and what he's doing to steer African-American students into science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Leave a Comment

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