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My Strange Relationship with the Romneys

by William McGaughey

Mitt Romney’s campaign for President of the United States has an emotional appeal for me. I have a certain relationship with him. I have told people that I graduated from the same high school (Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan) that Mitt Romney also did. Did I know him that well? Not really. He was six or seven years younger than I - just a kid. I doubt that Mitt Romney would recognize me or know my name. But our families were close.

My Father and Mitt Romney’s Father

My father, William H.T. McGaughey, Sr., went to work at the Automobile Manufacturers Association in Detroit in 1940. George Romney was its general manager. The big project then was to coordinate U.S. automakers in their conversion to war production. This was done through the agency of an organization called Automotive Council for War Production. George Romney was its managing director; my father, the public-relations director. (I still have my father’s ID badge, signed by Romney.) This was the nerve center that helped make Detroit, in FDR’s words, “the arsenal of democracy.”

After the war, the same organization helped facilitate the conversion back to production of automobiles. By all accounts, it was handled quite smoothly. And, in 1946, the automobile industry celebrated the 50th anniversary of Henry Ford and Charles King operating the first cars on Detroit streets. George Romney was the Jubilee manager and my father the publicity director. Old-timers like Henry Ford and Barney Oldfield met for the last time.

In the early 1950s, George Romney left the Automobile Manufacturers Association to become executive vice-president of Nash-Kelvinator, maker of the Nash automobile. Several years later, my father joined the same company as Romney’s assistant. After a merger between Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Motors, it became known as American Motors Corporation. When George Mason, AMC chairman, died in 1953, Romney was elevated to president and chairman of the company. My father became vice president in charge of communications in 1956. The company developed a new model of car, the Rambler. This car changed automotive history in the late 1950s.

At the time, the Big Three automakers - General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler - were an economic powerhouse dominating both the industry and the national economy. Two independent auto companies, Studebaker and Packard, had recently gone out of business. Having a tiny percentage of sales, American Motors was not given much chance to survive. But the company did survive and prosper. Rambler recorded a great increase in sales in 1957 and 1958. The price of AMC stock soared. The Big Three responded by bringing out their own “compact-car” models causing American Motors to lose market share. The French automaker, Renault, bought a majority share of the company. Then Chrysler bought out all shareholders. The Rambler brand died. Under Daimler-Chrysler, Jeep was the surviving remnant of American Motors.

A reason for the surprising success of Rambler in the 1950s was that American Motors became a commercial sponsor of the Disneyland television show and later of the original Disneyland park in Anaheim, California. It was my father who picked Disneyland from the list of shows proposed by the ad agency and who went out to California to negotiate with Walt Disney. But when Disneyland aired, George Romney became the pitch man for Rambler automobiles. Romney would crunch a rolled piece of paper to show how Rambler’s “unit-body construction” would offer greater protection in a crash. He spoke of Rambler’s superior fuel efficiency and its shorter turning radius. More controversially, he held a clay model of a dinosaur while suggesting that cars produced by the Big Three were “gas-guzzling dinosaurs.” Spurred by Davy Crockett and his coonskin cap along with other popular programs, Disneyland was a smash success in the 1950s. Both the Rambler car and George Romney became well known to the public.

In the early 1960s, George Romney stepped down as CEO of American Motors to pursue a political career. Breaking a Democratic stranglehold on Michigan politics, Romney was elected governor of the state as a Republican in 1962. He was reelected in 1964 and 1966. There was speculation that Romney might run for President. He did throw his hat into the race for the presidential election in 1968 but, when polls in New Hampshire showed him badly trailing Richard Nixon, George Romney abruptly pulled out of the race. For me, at least, this was the first shock of that turbulent political year. After Richard Nixon’s election, Romney became Secretary of Housing in the Nixon cabinet. George Romney died in the mid 1990s; his wife Lenore, a year or two later.

My father remained at American Motors until 1963 when he became senior vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers in New York City and later in Washington. He helped Romney spearhead an effort to amend Michigan’s state constitution (known as “con-con”) prior to Romney’s successful gubernatorial campaign, but otherwise played little part in his former boss’s political career. George Romney went off to Lansing, and my father to places out east. Yet, the two men and their families kept in touch by letters and Christmas cards.


My Own Association with the Romneys

What does this all have to do with me? As a boy, I sometimes accompanied my father to functions of his employer, starting with the Automobile Manufacturers Association in the late 1940s where I once recited Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address at a Christmas party. My parents used to host a party on New Years Day at our home. The Romneys invariably attended those receptions. We children were expected to greet visitors at the door and take their coats. So I saw George and Lenore Romney on many occasions. After my family moved from “Indian Village” in Detroit to Bloomfield Hills, I think my father and George Romney, and perhaps others, car pooled to work each day.

While I did not know Mitt Romney that well, I did know his older brother Scott. We were about the same age. Scott Romney, his cousin Morgan Richards, and I attended Camp Chickopee in northern Ontario in the summer of 1953. In the summer of 1956, Scott and I took a bus together from Bloomfield Hills to downtown Detroit where we attended night classes in welding and house wiring at Cass Technical High School. My parents explained that Mormons wanted their children to learn “a useful trade” in case their high-flying managerial or professional careers came to an end. My parents thought that was a good idea for me as well. Then, when Scott Romney and I completed our course, George Romney took us both to a Detroit Tigers ball game.

I went east to Yale in the fall of 1958, and was away at college until the winter of 1960-61. I then dropped out of Yale to satisfy my military obligation. Since the Army rejected me, I returned to Bloomfield Hills until the fall of 1961 and then went off to West Germany for a year. I returned to the United States in the winter of 1962-63 - in time to see George Romney inaugurated as Michigan’s governor. Then it was back to Yale to complete my remaining year and a half of higher education. I graduated with a B.A. degree in June 1964. After studying accounting for a half year at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, I migrated to Minnesota in early January 1965 where I have spent most of my life.

My life is therefore compartmentalized between the pre-Minnesota years and the years spent in Minnesota. Being nearly 67 years of age, this is approximately a 1-to-2 split. My association with the Romneys, belonging to the first period of time, is almost like a past-life experience for me. The last time I saw George Romney was in late 1967 or early 1968 when he came to Minnesota to campaign for President. We shook hands in the receiving line. “What are you doing here?,” Romney asked, looking puzzled. “I live here,” I replied. That was the extent of our conversation. There was not time for further discussion.

In fact, I was a passionate supporter of the Romney for President campaign. I had joined the Young Republican League of Minnesota specifically for the purpose of becoming a foot soldier in that effort. As head of a chapter of this organization in legislative districts near downtown St. Paul, I had gotten to know Gerald Olson who managed Harold LeVander’s successful gubernatorial campaign in 1966. Olson was recruited by the Romney-for-President campaign. At a Republican gathering whose purpose I have forgotten, a vote was taken which would indicate the relative strengths of the various presidential candidates. I remember asking Olson if I might introduce a motion that would favor Romney. “Do you think it would pass?,” Olson asked. “Maybe not,” I replied. “Then don’t introduce it” was Olson’s advice. You can see that I was somewhat naive.

George Romney was not doing well in the polls in the winter of 1968. I overheard a conversation with Congressman Clark MacGregor (later chair of Nixon’s infamous Committee to Reelect the President) in which MacGregor told a story about George Romney suggesting that as a presidential candidate he would fight to the bitter end. Apparently, Romney went bowling but his aim was poor. After missing most of the pins, he fired off another shot. Again, pins were left standing. So, he tried again and again missed. This went on and on until George Romney knocked over all of the pins. (I’m puzzled how this story squares with two-shots-a-frame at most bowling alleys.) The point of the story was that George Romney was a man of great determination who would persist in his quest of the presidency no matter how long the odds. However, in February, Romney withdrew from the race. His presidential hopes came to an abrupt end.


A Self-Styled Conservative Political Theorist

In truth, my own interest in Romney as a presidential candidate preceded this event by several years. In the 1960s, when most in my generation were political liberals or persons chasing after liberal causes, I was a self-styled conservative. I became a conservative political theorist.

Back track to the summer of 1960, the year when John F. Kennedy was elected. I was working that summer as a copy boy in the office of the Wall Street Journal on Broad Street in New York. My work was uneventful. One day, toward the end of the summer, I played hooky on the job. Instead of paying attention to what was happening in the office, I sat on the wooden bench composing an article that expressed an idea of mine.

I was imagining that democracy fostered the politics of wealth redistribution because voters having equally weighted votes had the power to tax people according to their wealth or income. This, it seemed to me, was basically unfair. Shouldn't people who worked hard for their money be allowed to keep it? So my paper presented a proposal for changing the one man - one vote principle for elections to public office to one in which the number of votes a person might cast were proportionate to the amount of taxes that he or she paid. I saw this as a check on government’s abusive power to tax.

Having written down my thoughts, I borrowed an unused typewriter in the office and then handed a typed copy to a Wall Street Journal editorial writer, Richard Whalen (later author of a book on Joseph P. Kennedy), who was kind enough to read my treatise and comment on it. Whalen was not that sympathetic to my concept but he did do me the practical favor of not reporting my freelanced work on company time to my supervisor.

This idea stuck with me as I continued my education at Yale, dropped out, and eventually went to West Germany where I studied Germany and did some odd jobs. In the late summer and fall of 1962, I was living in the Bavarian town of Landshut, west of Munich on the Isar river. I rented a room in a loft for $9 a month and had some free time. During that time, I decided to write a much longer piece centering upon the theme of the paper written in the Wall Street Journal office. As I added my thoughts on the struggle between communism and the West and other subjects, the piece kept getting longer. It kept expanding until I had a political treatise that was 260 pages in length double spaced. Its title was “DEMOCRACY TURNED UPSIDE DOWN: A Philosophical Outline of American Politics Partisan to the Conservative.”

This piece of writing was important in my life. As I crafted my ideas and expressed them on paper, I developed a better sense of how to do writing. My language became simpler and cleaner. I learned to load more “thought” into the words expressing it. The ideas followed one another in a smoother sequence. Basically, I taught myself to write. Thereafter, I thought of myself primarily as a writer. My life’s work would be to combine certain sets of ideas in polished written productions. That sense of purpose has continued to this day. I feel I have accomplished what I set out to do back then as a young man living in Germany, though at the price of neglecting other opportunities. I have self-published seven books of which I am proud and have posted extensive writings on the Internet.

What I called my “political essay” became an ideological blueprint for what I hoped to achieve through politics. In its grandiose way, it would be a Conservative Manifesto that would overcome ‘60s-era liberalism. While living in Germany, I was avidly following U.S. politics, especially George Romney’s campaign for Governor of Michigan. After moving to Berlin, I drove my German hosts crazy with fervent speculations on how Romney would be elected President and change U.S. politics. Validation came in November 1962 when I could point to the following words in a Berlin newspaper: “Der Automobil Fabrikant, Romney, setzte sich durch.” Setze sich durch - Romney had “pushed through” to victory in the campaign. He was the newly elected Governor of Michigan. By now, my political manuscript was making Romney’s campaign the concluding chapter. George Romney would be the political hero who in the White House would save our nation. There was, however, one small problem: Romney was a political liberal.

After I returned to the United States, my father arranged for a small number of copies of my manuscript to be photocopied and bound in a spiral notebook. I also had the good fortune to attend a “Michigan Day” luncheon in Flint, Michigan, at which Governor Romney was the main speaker. (My father was master of ceremonies.) The luncheon honored Michigan residents such as Walker Cisler of the Detroit Edison Company, the philanthropist Charles S. Mott, and Mr. Kresge of K-Mart, who had made contributions to the community. After the event, I handed a bound copy of my manuscript to Governor Romney and asked him to read it. He politely accepted my gift. I also gave copies of the manuscript to a number of other people. Some complimented me on my writing style but none seemed to favor the ideas. There was no response from Romney himself. It was, of course, presumptuous of me, in my early 20s, to be telling a major public official that he ought to change his political stripes.

From my standpoint, this is the great irony. I happened to be right. George Romney badly wanted to be President. Commentators today point to the “brainwashing” comment in an interview that Romney gave in 1967 as the cause of his derailed campaign. (It created a stereotype of George Romney as someone mentally too feeble to see through the Johnson Administration propaganda given visiting dignitaries in Vietnam. This was totally inappropriate in Romney’s case. He was super intelligent. And Eugene McCarthy, my friend later in life, delivered the chief blow!!) A more plausible reason was that George Romney was trying to position himself in the political mainstream - which in the 1960s meant being liberal - in a period of time when tides within the Republican party were shifting toward conservative politics.

One could not have guessed that the Goldwater campaign of 1964 would produce such lasting results. In 1968, then, Romney was regarded as a mere “stalking horse” for Nelson Rockefeller while the pugnacious Nixon (who had campaigned for Republicans and, in 1962, had burned his bridges with the liberal media) was a champion for conservatives. But Romney had religious baggage that pinned him to that position. Had he gone conservative, commentators might have continued to hound him on the fact that the Mormon church did not then allow blacks to become ordained clergy.

I like to think my boyish writings had some impact on politics then. Among my father’s circle of friends were some who became interested in George Romney as a presidential candidate - notably, George Harris, former editor of Time magazine and Look magazine, who wrote and published a full-length biography of Romney in time for the 1968 campaign. I also note with some pleasure that President John Kennedy confided to a friend, Dave Powers, that he regarded George Romney as the strongest candidate he might face, playing upon the Mormon aspect: “Imagine a man who neither drinks nor smokes,” said Kennedy in words to that effect. “That guy could be tough.”

After Goldwater’s defeat in 1964, Romney was the presumed front runner. President Johnson, who never shrank from dirty politics, is believed to have delayed sending federal troops to Detroit at Governor Romney’s request so the race-torn city might burn a bit longer on Romney’s watch.

A second irony is now that Mitt Romney is running for President as a conservative, taking a different political stance than his father. George Romney, though considered liberal, was actually a political pragmatist - a skilled communicator and administrator who knew how to get things done. Conservatism today is, by contrast, quite ideological. The Mitt Romney campaign for President rigorously toes the ideological line: low taxes, strong national defense, opposition to gay marriage, etc. Part of this ideology is inherited from the Reagan administration and part is imposed by the religious right. It certainly has little to do with the conservativism that I expressed in my “manifesto”. I myself have moved considerably to the left. I do not consider myself a conservative any more. I’m more a free thinker. I belong to the Independence Party of Minnesota. Jesse Ventura is one of my political heroes.


Where I Went Wrong

In retrospect, the central premise of my manuscript, “Democracy Turned Upside Down”, has been disproven by events. In no way, is American politics in danger of wealth redistribution as I once imagined it - distribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. The reality is quite the opposite. A sentence in my book anticipated this development: “If the government has the authority to equalize wealth, which the political leaders consider a better arrangement, the government has the authority to redistribute wealth in any fashion whatsoever, equal or unequal, which the political leaders consider a better arrangement.” In reality, then, we have had a conservative politics which redistributes wealth from the poor to the rich.

If I ever imagined that the poor were a unified, majority voting who through government could take money away from the rich, I was sadly mistaken. The poor are weak and divided. Poverty is not a good political rallying point; few want to identify with being poor. The rich, on the other hand, have the money to hire lobbyists, contribute the political campaigns, and buy expensive television commercials to benefit their favored candidates. Reflecting the new political realities, we have elected officials advocating income-tax cuts targeted to the rich, cuts in the capital-gains tax, an end to the “double taxation” of dividends, and to the “death” (inheritance) tax, while property taxes and taxes on wages for Social Security have soared. I was wrong - wrong as wrong could be - on this point.

In my manuscript, I recognized that the liberal political establishment showed a certain hypocrisy in preaching traditional wealth redistribution while practicing other policies. When Lyndon Johnson announced the “Great Society” programs, my immediate reaction was to give him credit for putting his (our) money where his mouth was. He was actually proposing a systematic way to shift resources to the poor. But, of course, this approach has many problems. On his watch, the welfare rolls became swollen. Wealth redistribution by government creates unhelpful incentives.


Alienated from Ivy League Liberalism

Let me say, however, that my brand of conservativism was on target in other respects. I considered myself a conservative partly because my father belonged to the business class and I felt business people had a better claim to power in economic affairs than people in the political class. The so-called “professional politician” was my whipping boy. I resented all those politicians and bureaucrats in Washington pretending they were so important and that events in our society hinged on their wise decisions. To the career politicians I wanted to say: Get a real job! Shrink the size of government! That’s the way I felt about politics during the Kennedy and Johnson eras. The politicians and their minions in education and the press were persons too full of themselves and too little appreciative of what Americans in the hinterland had to endure under their governance. When Ronald Reagan later made this kind of argument, I was thrilled. I was a Reagan supporter when it was not cool.

Why did I feel that way? A large part of it had to do with my Yale education. I grew up in Detroit thinking that the automobile industry was important. During the Eisenhower years, Detroit was close to the center of the political universe. Ike appointed the chairman of General Motors, C.E. Wilson, to be Secretary of Defense. Arthur Summerfield, an auto dealer in Flint, became Postmaster General. Joseph M. Dodge, a Detroit banker, who was the architect of the postwar Japanese economy, became head of the Office of Management and Budget. My parents were part of the Detroit establishment; through them, I had a certain stature.

But then I went east to Yale and encountered others from other places who had claims to being the center of the universe - people from Boston, New York City, Chicago, Texas. I also sensed an attitude of hostility toward what Detroit represented. The intelligentsia hated and despised business people. Henry Ford was an anti-Semite. C.E. Wilson was scorned for suggesting that the interests of General Motors and America coincided. George Romney was an intellectual lightweight. Only the New York financiers, Washington politicians, and Ivy League professors seemed to matter.

In short, I was alienated from the political environment that I felt in New Haven. One should note that others had similar feelings. William F. Buckley got his start in conservative politics by writing a book, God and Man at Yale, which argued that Yale professors and their followers trashed traditional values in religion and elsewhere. The university chaplain, William Sloane Coffin, was in the vanguard of those who believed in “afflicting the comfortable” - i.e., us Yale students - while “comforting the afflicted” - downtrodden blacks in the south and others unlike us.

In a famous exchange with George W. Bush after Bush’s father had lost an election for U.S. Senate to Lloyd Bentsen, Coffin told the younger Bush that “the better man won”. What arrogance this was! George W. Bush never forgot that remark belittling his father; and I initially sympathized with Bush as a presidential candidate because I knew what he had been through. (I have little sympathy now, after all the damage his administration has caused our country.)

There was in those days at Yale and other Ivy League colleges an attitude of moral self-righteousness and intellectual intolerance made worse by its alliance with political power in Washington. The “brightest and best” coming out of those elite universities thought that they alone had the answer. I think of people like McGeorge Bundy and Roger Hillsman, Dean Rusk and Robert McNamara, who were college-educated “technocrats” of a liberal political persuasion which meant that the most advanced systems of knowledge validated their positions. The rest of us evidently were ignoramuses with a parochial view.

There was a saying then that a young man who was a conservative lacked compassion and heart while, conservatives said, that an old man who was a liberal lacked a sense of reality. I remember Senator Hubert Humphrey coming to Yale and telling us, in effect, that we had to be liberals. “You’re too young to be realists,” he said. Such a disrespectful attitude only drove me more deeply into the conservative camp.

I was not one of those idealists who went south to join groups protesting segregation or participate in voter-registration drives for disenfranchised blacks. To me, it seemed that self-righteous northerners, congregating in elite universities, were invading someone else’s communities and imposing their ways. Was there not enough to condemn at Yale before we go pointing the finger of blame at someone else? Didn’t Jesus say something to that effect? Even if he did, that did not stop the Rev. William Sloane Coffin from participating in the original “Freedom ride” into the deep south, an action which is today rightly regarded as an act of justice and courage but which I then viewed suspiciously. The old south, like Detroit, was a moral backwater in the eyes of the superior Ivy Leaguers.

It was only recently after watching a documentary on the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi and the miscarriage of justice in the trial of his accused killers that the Civil Rights movement began to make more sense. While at college, up here in the north, I saw only the zealotry of elite college students in their desire to help downtrodden southern blacks. I saw this at a passionate gathering that was held at Cornell University; and I saw it when, as an aspiring reporter for the Yale Daily News, I was asked to cover a confrontation between two white "racists" from New York City and hundreds of angry, insulting students at the Yale Law School. Who was being abusive, these students or the racists? It seemed to me that the desire to help black people may have been less urgent than something that the white protesters against racism wanted to prove about themselves. I took it as a compliment, then, when one of the vile racists said that I, who was calmly asking questions, seemed to have a greater sense of fairness and respect than the others there.


My More Recent Political Preferences

Well, that was then and now is now. Our attitudes toward race have not changed that much. I myself have changed politically. Unlike the situation in those days, I have had significant contact and interaction with black people in the past two decades. As attitudes from the Civil Rights era have hardened, though, I prefer to work on economic issues.

My big issue has always been the shorter workweek. I think the federal government should amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to encourage employers to let people work fewer hours per week or have longer vacations. With my accounting background, I’ve delved into the statistics surrounding this issue and explored the economic relationships in various writings. And I’ve met interesting people with a similar interest along the way. The same is true of issues relating to international trade. I was fortunate to be in touch with people who had contacts with Mexican workers in the period when NAFTA was being proposed. I wrote and published one of the first books on the subject and sent copies of this book to distinguished persons ranging from Bill Clinton to Ross Perot to Eugene McCarthy to Paul Wellstone and Skip Humphrey, who all sent letters in response. This was in the early 1990s.

In the last fifteen years, my politics has shifted back to a conservative position not by choice but by the necessity of having to protect my livelihood - owning and managing residential rental properties - from predatory city government. I’ve seen politics, then, at the local level through my involvement in a landlord group, Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee. Though the issues are of a coarser nature than those relating to national or world economics, my own standing is a bit more secure. Belonging to a small group of people whom you personally know, you can affect politics directly at this level. For the first time, I was an immediate player in the political game and not merely someone who produces theoretical writings.

My landlord politics is “conservative” insofar as it opposes a “liberal” or “progressive” type of politics that takes property away from politically weak or unprotected groups. But this is not conservative in the sense that Mitt Romney is a conservative. It has little or no connection with the religious right. It reflects the situation of small, not big, business. Tax cuts are of less significance than protecting oneself from drug dealers and city inspectors. There is no politically organized group which will help us though the Independence Party comes closest perhaps.


The Mitt Romney Candidacy and Recollections

Philosophically, I do not agree with many of Mitt Romney’s core conservative positions but I will support him for old time’s sake. To do so would be like an act of filial piety. To me, this is like the second coming of George Romney. I realize intellectually that the father is not reincarnated in the son, and Mitt as a political candidate should stand on his own two feet. It’s immaterial to me whether he passes any or all of the conservative litmus tests. If Mitt Romney flip-flops on certain issues, it gives me some encouragement that he may flip away from some of his less palatable conservative positions (such as in the trade area or the Iraq war) and flop toward what I think the nation will be forced to do during his term of office as President, if indeed he should get so far in the election process.

Besides that, Mitt Romney has established a solid record as an administrator and political leader, as head of the Salt Lake City Olympics Committee and as Governor of Massachusetts, not to mention his considerable accomplishment in becoming a self-made multi-millionaire. I also admire the way he has handled himself in the campaign for President. More “junk” has been thrown at him than at any other candidate. This younger Romney has had to endure anti-Mormon bias to a degree that could not be imagined in a time when his father was running for President. He has had to endure outright hostility from the media and multiple big-name endorsements thrown to his opponents at inopportune times.

All this Mitt Romney has endured with good humor and grace. He has been a tenacious fighter but an honest one. I don’t blame him for spending inordinate amounts of money, including his own, on television ad campaigns which his opponents call “attack ads”. Are his really any worse than theirs? I was so riled up by what the media pundits were saying about Mitt that, on the eve of the Michigan primary, I drove over from Minnesota to several cities in the upper peninsula of Michigan, trying to interest some newspapers and television stations in a “human interest” story about his father. I was hoping that the “gas-guzzling dinosaur” clay prop that George Romney used in the Disneyland commercials would grab their attention. (No, it had insufficient local content.) But Mitt Romney won that primary.

I haven’t seen any of the Romney family in more than ten years. But the last time was memorable. While driving through Michigan in the summer of 1994, my brother and I decided to drop in on the elder Romneys, George and Lenore. I knew where in Bloomfield Hills they lived. So we drove to that place and knocked on the door. The person who answered told us that the Romneys did not live there any more. The good news was that they lived in a smaller house just behind their previous residence which they had built for their retirement years. So again, we knocked on the door. Lenore Romney, Mitt’s mother, answered. She said her husband was in Massachusetts campaigning for Mitt in his Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy. This was the first time I had heard of the campaign. At the time Mitt Romney and Ted Kennedy were running neck and neck in the polls.

In any event, Lenore Romney recognized my brother and me and invited us into her home for a brief conversation. She recalled her and her husband’s relationship with my parents. She talked about other people we knew. She said with some pride that she and her husband had been guests of the first President Bush at their home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Her motherly pride in what Mitt had accomplished was also quite evident. These are some of the high lights of this last visit. Then Lenore Romney ushered us to the door. A few weeks later, my father received a letter from George Romney saying that he was sorry he had missed our visit but that his wife had enjoyed it. Such graciousness was characteristic of the Romney family in the wake of an unannounced visit at which others might have taken offense.

I write this several days before "Super Tuesday" when Mitt Romney’s fate as a Presidential candidate may well be decided. In a few hours, he will be attending a public rally in Edina, Minnesota, which I plan to attend. I may or may not be able to speak with Mitt Romney in person. (Subsequent note: We did exchange a few words. And Mitt Romney was the top vote-getter in Minnesota's Republican caucuses!) I have nothing against John McCain or any of the other candidates. Despite my support of Mitt Romney, I remain a loyal member of the Independence Party.

But there is a special place in my political heart for Mitt and other Romneys, going back many years.

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