The untold truth of Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney has been a part of America's political landscape for decades. The son of former Michigan Governor George Romney, the younger Romney made his first stab at politics in 1994 when he mounted an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, according to Biography. Nearly a decade later, in 2002 he successfully ran for governor of Massachusetts, serving in that role from 2003 until 2007. 

In 2008, Romney ran for president, but ultimately dropped out of the race, with John McCain becoming the Republican nominee. According to the Associated Press (via Newsday), Romney's failed presidential bid cost a whopping $110 million, with $45 million coming out of his own pocket. Romney mounted a second bid for president in 2012; this time, however, he secured the Republican nomination, but ultimately lost the election, giving President Barack Obama a second term. When longtime Utah Senator Orrin Hatch announced in 2018 that he would not seek re-election, Romney ran for Hatch's Senate seat and won.

Even though Romney has had a distinguished and varied political career, there's still much that people may not know about this businessman turned political leader. Keep on reading to discover the untold truth of Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney's dad was a political power player, too

Mitt Romney's father was a lifelong Republican who shifted from a career in business to a whole new chapter in the political arena. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, after nearly a decade as chairman of American Motors Corporation, George Romney ran a successful campaign to become governor of Michigan, serving in the role from 1963 until 1969, reported The Atlantic

Gov. Romney launched a presidential bid ahead of the 1968 election, hoping to capture the Republican nomination. However, a hurdle quickly presented itself: his place of birth. One of the key eligibility requirements to be president, according to the United States Constitution, is that the candidate must be a "natural born citizen" of the United States. George Romney, however, was born in Mexico, to American parents who were living in a Mormon colony in that country. 

As Reuters pointed out, Romney's campaign became dogged by questions about his birth in Mexico, with one Democrat congressman even expressing "serious doubts" that Romney qualified to be president. However, the issue was eventually proven to be much ado about nothing. "When you're born outside the United States to [U.S.] citizens, you have citizenship at birth," Temple University professor Peter J. Spiro explained to ABC News, adding, "You don't have to do anything to claim your citizenship."

The Vietnam War was a political football for both George and Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney was 21 years old when his father, former Michigan Governor George Romney, accepted an appointment as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the cabinet of President Richard Nixon after he won the 1968 election. While Nixon was escalating the Vietnam War, the younger Romney was one of many young Americans at the time to speak out against the unpopular, controversial conflict. As The New York Times reported, Mitt — then a student at Stanford — was quoted as saying, "If it wasn't a political blunder to move into Vietnam, I don't know what is."

Mitt's stance echoed that of his father, an early supporter of the war until undertaking an eye-opening visit to Vietnam, where he got a firsthand look at dispirited troops waging an unwinnable war. George was in the midst of his presidential bid for the Republican nomination when he gave a disastrous interview about his experience, explaining he changed his mind about the war after receiving "the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get." He wound up spending the remainder of his campaign explaining and defending that unfortunate turn of phrase until ultimately dropped out of the race.

Mitt Romney was once declared dead

In June 1968, Mitt Romney was driving a car in France when a horrific accident occurred. According to an account in The New York Times, 21-year-old Romney — who was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — was in the country on a Mormon mission when the car he was driving was hit head on by another vehicle. When police arrived on the scene, they discovered five of the six passengers were injured, while one had seemingly died. As a result, one officer "wrote 'Il est mort' – he is dead – in Romney's passport." As The Atlantic explained, the news was relayed to Romney's family, devastated by the news that Mitt had reportedly passed away. 

It wasn't until later that night that the Romney residence received a phone call from family friend Sargent Shriver, U.S. ambassador to France, who had some good news: Mitt wasn't dead after all. The officer, upon seeing Romney's extensive injuries, assumed the young man was a goner; only later was Romney discovered to be alive — albeit just barely. As a friend who was in the car told the Times, Romney "probably came within a hair of not surviving."

The shady way Mitt Romney's company built its fortune

In 1977, Harvard Business School graduate Mitt Romney joined the consulting firm Bain & Company. Six years later, he was made head of an offshoot company, Bain Capital. According to a report in Rolling Stone, Romney's Bain Capital raised venture funds to launch new businesses, including the office superstore Staples, but eventually shifted to a new strategy "that involved borrowing huge sums of money to take over existing firms, then extracting value from them by force."

To illustrate, Rolling Stone pointed to American Pad and Paper (Ampad), a company purchased by Bain in 1992 with $5 million of its own money, borrowing the remaining $35 million, and saddling Ampad with the debt. Bain later took the company public and "cashed out about $50 million in stock" for Bain and its investors. By the time Ampad declared bankruptcy in 2000, Bain had turned its $5 million investment into $100 million.

Thanks to deals like that, Romney has made some big money over the years. According to the Associated Press, when he disclosed his finances upon embarking on his 2018 Senate bid, he reported a net worth of approximately $270 million.

Did Mitt Romney make a shady deal during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics?

Ahead of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Mitt Romney was recruited to take charge of running what the Los Angeles Times later described as "the cash-strapped organizing committee." A big part of his job was to address the event's $179-million shortfall by drumming up big-money donations. Some of those, however, came with controversy attached.

The Los Angeles Times retrospective of the scandal examined how Romney brought in Utah-based vitamin company Nu Skin, which offered a $20-million sponsorship of both the games and the U.S. Olympic team. Nu Skin's multilevel marketing strategy, however, had long been dogged by accusations of being a pyramid scheme, with Mother Jones noting the company had been hit with several lawsuits, including some alleging the company made false claims about its products.

As part of the sponsorship, athletes were encouraged to take Nu Skin supplements. This raised concerns with the International Olympic Committee, which advised the athletes to steer clear "because of concerns that they may be adulterated with steroids," noted Mother Jones. Ultimately, Romney's Nu Skin deal went forward, with the sponsorship granting the company worldwide exposure for the two-week duration of the games, something the company's CEO described as having "almost incalculable" value.

What's up with Mitt Romney's disorderly conduct arrest?

One of the stranger stories from Mitt Romney's past was the time the straight-laced Mormon politico found himself under arrest — for disorderly conduct, no less. According to BuzzFeed News, Romney described the bizarre incident to The Boston Globe, which began with a 1981 family outing. 

As Romney was preparing to launch the family's boat, a park ranger approached. He informed Romney the number on the boat's license appeared to have been obscured by paint, warning Romney that if the boat hit the water he'd receive a $50 fine. With five impatient sons anxiously awaiting in the car, Romney told the ranger that he'd happily pay the fine — but he was going boating. When the boat hit the water, the "visibly angry" ranger arrested Romney for disorderly conduct; Romney was handcuffed and taken to a police station. "There I was, dripping wet in a bathing suit," Romney told the Globe

Appearing in court a few days later, Romney claimed he'd been falsely arrested, and threatened a lawsuit. "He did not have the right to arrest me because I was not a disorderly person," Romney contended. The charges were dropped on the spot.

He faced backlash for the way he treated his dog

In 2007, Mitt Romney gave an interview to The Boston Globe that wound up embroiling him in controversy for years to come. Back in 1983, the Romneys hit the highway for a 12-hour road trip to Canada, and put the family dog — an Irish setter named Seamus — in a pet carrier strapped to the roof of the car. The drive was proceeding as scheduled when oldest son Tagg noticed "brown liquid" running down the car's rear window ("Gross!" he declared). Romney pulled over at a gas station, and hosed off both dog and car. 

At the time, PETA berated Romney for placing a dog atop a speeding vehicle, theorizing that he lacked the gene responsible for "basic compassion." When the story was dredged up five years later during Romney's 2012 presidential run, the backlash forced he and wife Ann to attempt some damage control in a TV interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer. "The dog loved it," said Ann of the canine's rooftop journey, rationalizing that it was "a kinder thing to bring him along" than to stick the dog in a kennel. Also, in fairness to Mitt (maybe), the original Boston Globe story did say the he "built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog." Okay, then. 

The hilarious reason why he never watched the Mitt Romney-themed episode of New Girl

During Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential run, he became the focus of a TV sitcom. As Politico reported, an episode of New Girl featured a storyline about Schmidt (Max Greenfield) pretending to be one of Romney's sons to impress some women, inventing the name Tugg Romney. Schmidt almost gets busted when telling a bogus anecdote about bringing along beer on an outing with his "dad," when one of the women reminds him his father is Mormon and doesn't drink. Schmidt recovers by claiming they "don't drink the beers," but simply buy it to support America's breweries and "dump them in the lake."

Romney later told the Daily Herald he had heard about the episode and intended to watch. However, when he sat down in front of the TV he confused the show's title, New Girl, with that of another TV series, Lena Dunham's racy, nudity-filled Girls — which is what he mistakenly wound up watching. His reaction: "Holy moly!"

In a CNN interview with four of Romney's five sons, actual Romney son Tagg joked, "It used to be, everywhere I went, 'Is Tagg your real name.' And now the first question I get is, 'Have you seen New Girl?'" 

Mitt Romney's past views on same-sex relationships were not exactly woke

During his failed 2012 presidential bid, which included a few ruinous gaffes, reporters dug deep into Mitt Romney's past, and some of what they discovered proved to be disturbing. One story that emerged was when some LGBTQ activists demanded a meeting with the then-Massachusetts governor. The plaintiffs in a court case that led to Supreme Court decision that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state, they wanted to confront the governor about why he was supporting a constitutional amendment to block the court's decision.

The plaintiffs sent Romney a letter asking for a meeting, but received no response. It wasn't until they held a press conference outside his office that Romney acquiesced and met them in person. According to an account of the meeting in Boston Spirit, Romney "sat stone-faced and almost entirely silent" while the plaintiffs told their stories. When they finished, he asked, "Is there anything else?"

As the plaintiffs left, one asked the governor what she should tell her eight-year-old daughter about why she and her partner weren't allowed to marry because of Romney's stance. He replied, "I don't really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don't you just tell her the same thing you've been telling her the last eight years."

Mitt Romney was the only Republican Senator to vote for Trump's impeachment

On December 18, 2019, Donald Trump became the third U.S. president in history to be impeached, on charges of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. The following February, Trump was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate. In that Senate vote, reported Business Insider, Romney was one of two Republican Senators who voted in favor of calling witnesses, and the only one who voted to convict Trump. 

When casting his vote, Romney delivered a speech, explaining, "I am a profoundly religious person. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential." Admitting that his vote would "likely be in the minority," Romney also viewed his decision through the lens of history. As he stated, "I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me."

In an earlier interview in The Atlantic, Romney revealed that he "prayed through this process," voting the way he did because he felt "subject to [his] own conscience."

Will the real Pierre Delecto please stand up?

In a 2019 profile in The AtlanticMitt Romney was discussing the Twitter attacks that President Donald Trump had been sending his way when he dropped a big bombshell: he had a secret Twitter account that he used to engage in anonymous political conversations. "What do they call me, a lurker?" he quipped, without divulging the name he was using for that covert account.  

Romney's confession led Slate journalist Ashley Feinberg to start digging, and she uncovered an account that sure looked like the one Romney had described. The user name of the account was Pierre Delecto. In her investigation, Feinberg offered a wealth of evidence to back up her theory that Pierre Delecto was Romney's secret Twitter identity.

Shortly after Feinberg's findings were posted online, she updated the story to report that Pierre Delecto had taken the account private. This was followed by the author of the article in The Atlantic contacting Romney to obtain confirmation. Romney responded with two words, in French: "C'est moi," he said, which translates to "It's me." 

Mitt Romney is a cancer survivor

In early 2018, CNN reported that Mitt Romney had been treated for prostate cancer the previous summer. According to "a source close to Romney," he had been "treated surgically" at a California hospital, with the prognosis described as "good." A Romney aide confirmed CNN's report, reported Politico, issuing a statement to explain he had received a diagnosis of "slow-growing prostate cancer." The cancer was removed via surgery, and had not "spread beyond the prostate."

The following year, during a live on-air interview with CNN, Romney briefly addressed his cancer treatment, simply stating that he was "doing just fine."

Romney's wife, Ann, is also a cancer survivor, and she opened up about her experiences battling breast cancer in a blog post for GlamourDescribing her diagnosis as "one of my toughest teachers," she explained that her cancer was also treated "successfully," thanks to the benefit of early detection. She underlined the importance for women of undergoing regular breast examinations and mammograms, explaining that "the stakes are too high to not be vigilant."

Please don't ask Mitt Romney about his pajamas situation

As the 2012 presidential election loomed, candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney were making the media rounds, which included a stop on Live! With Kelly and Michael. As recounted by The National Post, host Kelly Ripa had some off-kilter questions for the couple during her "Romney rapid-fire round" interview.

The questioning brought about some interesting revelations, such as Ann detailing her most mortifying moment, which took place while the couple spent a night in the White House during the presidency of George W. Bush. She opened a door, she told Ripa, and discovered the president "having a massage." She admitted that the next time she saw Bush she was "so embarrassed" that words escaped her. "He looked at me and winked and said, 'I look pretty good, don't I?'" she said.

Meanwhile, her husband made the surprising confession that he was into Jersey Shore, admitting he was "kind of a Snooki fan." He also offered an eyebrow-raising response when asked what he wore to bed at night. "I think the best answer is as little as possible," he quipped. 

Mitt Romney 'spontaneously' joined a BLM protest

As protesters took to the streets for Black Lives Matter marches in June 2020, Mitt Romney took to Twitter to share an unexpected photo (above) — of himself, wearing a mask, marching with protesters in Washington, D.C. In the caption, he wrote simply, "Black Lives Matter."

Romney later told The Washington Post that he decided to attend the march in order to try to help "end violence and brutality, and to make sure that people understand that Black lives matter." An aide to Romney didn't offer many more details when contacted by CNN, but did confirm that Romney's decision to join the march was a "spontaneous" one. 

Romney's participation in the March did not go over well with the president he previously voted to to impeach. President Donald Trump retweeted a link to a news story about Romney joining the march, writing sarcastically, "Tremendous sincerity, what a guy. Hard to believe, with this kind of political talent, his numbers would 'tank' so badly in Utah!"