A Father's Influence

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    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    Talk to me about the special connection between Mitt and your father.

    Dad loved us all and treated us all with great love. But Mitt was six years younger, a surprise, and Dad had a little bit more time perhaps. And Mitt was so much in love with cars, and my dad was president of a car company, and so they built a little go-cart together, and they did things together. Mitt spent a lot of time listening to him at night, going through his papers and talking about business and so forth. So they had a special relationship, and that continued on. ...

    ... I read somewhere where you said that Mitt was able to speak to him with a different ease than some of the others, that he had the confidence to answer back sometimes.

    I said it differently. I remember specifically a couple times. One of them was when my mother was thinking of running for Senate, and my dad would gather the four children together and say, "This is what we're thinking of, and do you think this is a good idea?" My sister Lynn and my sister Jane and I would say, "Gee, dad, that sounds great."

    And Mitt would say: "Well, have you thought about this? Have you thought about [that]?" It wasn't so much that we weren't willing to challenge him, because I think my dad enjoyed people challenging him, but that was really more about Mitt, that Mitt thought of different aspects and thought of pros and cons of things that sometimes the rest of us didn't see.

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    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    Your father had a pretty rough childhood and upbringing in his own right. He really went through some hard times. How did that experience inform who he was and the way he viewed the world?

    My father was very frugal in everything he ever did, ... and he talked to us about the importance of being frugal and careful with what we earn and what we make. And he taught us about the importance of hard work.

    By the time he was in sixth grade, he'd been to six grade schools, and his father went broke five times, so he had a real tough upbringing with a bunch of brothers. It was a pretty traumatic kind of existence.

    But they had a great family life and great values, and so he believed in the importance of hard work. He believed in education. He didn't graduate from college, so he wanted to make sure all his children did, and he would check our themes for school. My mother and dad would check what papers we wrote, check out our homework and give us special assignments. ...

    Describe your dad for me. ...

    ... When we were growing up he wasn't in politics; he was in business. He was very busy, but he took a lot of time to be with us. He came to our sports events. He talked with us a lot. We always had special trips. In the summer we took a trip; we went to a family cottage. He took a lot of time with his family and talked about what went on in his life and what inspired him.

    My mother did the same. My mother loved English; she loved reading. She sat with us at the piano when we had to take piano lessons. She sat there at our practice sessions.

    They were very involved in our lives, and my dad was a happy guy, always a positive guy, very powerful. When he walked in the room, you knew he was there. He had a lot of power to him, and he was a lot of fun.

    He was our hero growing up and in everything we ever did. He was just a terrific guy. ...

    He loved his family. He loved sports. He was just a fanatic about sports, loved it and got us all involved in liking sports. He loved business. He was interested in so many different things, constantly learning, always studying, always trying to find out new things and always challenging people about issues and ideas. So he was an interesting character. ...

    Was that intimidating as a son?

    To a degree. But, you know, somebody early on told me: "Don't try to be the kind of boy to please your father. Be the kind of boy that you would like to have as a son." And that made you realize what was really important in life. Values and how you conduct your life is more important than trying to do everything that your father did.

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    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    Your brother was with him in 1964 at the [Republican National] Convention when he walked out during [Sen. Barry] Goldwater's [R-Ariz.] speech. Tell me what you think your brother learned watching your father do that.

    Mitt was involved in the earliest campaign of my father in 1962, very much involved, driving my mother around. And people would [ask] me afterward: "Where's your brother? He had such great personality, so much fun to be with. That guy's going places." ...

    In 1964 we went to San Francisco to the convention, and my father was concerned. He thought that the people on the right side of the party were not as much in favor of civil rights as he was. And my father was a major proponent of equal rights for African Americans and others, people of color.

    And in fact, this was the first state that had a civil rights commission in the country, and our father believed in that very, very strongly. He was very concerned about that, and that's one of the reasons he left that.

    And then he never really fully endorsed Goldwater in that election. I think later on Goldwater showed that he really didn't have a negative racist view, but there was that tinge, that element seemed to be there in the party at that time.

    As sons, seeing your father -- that's a bold move for someone to make. What were the lessons taken away from that?

    I think that my father was always willing to live according to his principles. He didn't shy away from any challenge. He was a very strong person in doing that, and we learned that you have to live up to what you believe in.

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    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    ... Talk to me about the comments that [your father] made, the "brainwashing" comments that he made during the 1968 election and how the backlash from that impacted him. What that was like for him?

    ... My father had been to Vietnam, and he had determined that what was being told to the press back in the United States was not accurate. And he kept saying that it wasn't accurate, and finally used the term that some auto people used, "brainwashing."

    What was interesting was that his political advisers had the right to look at the tape and delete anything that they didn't like in the tape, and they didn't think there was anything wrong with it. And Lou Gordon, a few days later, sent it to some national station, and they made a big deal out of it and made it sound like he was a buffoon and so forth and that he was really an idiot.

    What my father said at the time was, he said sometimes in politics being right too soon is a mistake and doesn't work out well, but he never regretted it, because he knew he was right that we were not telling the truth about what was going on in Vietnam.

    And later, what was most upsetting to my father was not the public reaction, but his good friend Bob McNamara ... wouldn't speak to him after that, because he was secretary of defense. Then, many years later, Bob McNamara came out and acknowledged that they weren't telling the truth. ...

    So my dad always felt that he gave his best, and that was all he was required to do. And I saw him decide to drop out of the race. I was with him the next day, and he [had] exactly the same demeanor and [was] the same person and the same positive attitude that he'd had before. He never showed an ounce of regret to me.

    He always showed that he'd fought as hard as he could and done the best he could. Didn't work out. And maybe it worked out for the better or something else. He never took it as a defeat or something that he'd done wrong, because he thought he told the truth.

    Much has been made of the lessons that your brother took from that experience.

    ... I don't see that. Every politician today knows they have to be careful about what they say. And frankly, I think Barack Obama has not been careful and has revealed some of the things he really believes by saying some things that we're all going after him on. But everybody knows that you have to be careful. I don't think that caused Mitt to be any more careful than he otherwise would have been.

    I think what Mitt saw is that you have to say what you believe. You have to fight as hard as you can for what you believe and what you do, and then you have to let the chips fall where they may. That's what Mitt learned. Mitt learned the importance of integrity and Mitt learned the importance of trying to make things better.

    Somebody said to me the other day, "Well, Mitt, he's a businessman, and that's why he's doing this," because we all talk about his great business experience. I said: "You know what? He left Bain in 1999. The people that stayed there made way more money than he did. He could have stayed there and continued to run the place. He left and went to the Olympics and didn't take a dime to straighten out the Olympics. Then he went and became governor, didn't take a dime."

    This is somebody that did it because he thought he could make life better. He told me at the time, he said: "I don't want to go back into business. I want to give the rest of my life to public service. I want to do something to help people. I've done enough for my family and for me. It's time for me to give back." So that's his motivation. It isn't any other motivation.

    So what we learned from our father was give it your all, do everything you can, be honest about what you can do. ... I don't think my father would have made it anyway without that statement, because there were several other things that could have happened. Rockefeller said he was going to support him and then backed off. So a number of things happened that created a different environment. But nevertheless, that isn't what shaped our lives. What shaped our lives is the kind of person he was.

    Why did [your father] want to be president?

    Because he thought he could straighten out the country. He thought there were problems that he could fix, and he thought he had the ability to do it. And so did a number of other people. It was a different era.

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    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    In terms of civil rights, that was something even the church wasn't fully up to speed in the same way, and he was willing to speak out. Was that something that was challenging for him?

    It was not. I don't want to really talk about the religious aspects, but it's true that our church didn't provide the same status for African Americans as it did for others at that time. But my father believed fully that everybody was equal and that there was no difference in terms of what rights people should have and strongly believed that.

    As a matter of fact, if you go back, there's a biographer that's gone back into some of the letters that my father wrote to his father. As long as my grandfather was alive, my dad wrote him a letter every week, and those letters are in the library at the University of Michigan.

    And he talked about that coming from Salt Lake City, where there no African Americans, and coming to Detroit and finding so many qualified people, he talked about how terrific he thought so many people were and how important it was for our country to understand that we're all equal and all children of our father in heaven.

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    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    ... There are a number of father-son examples in politics, especially sons following in their father's footsteps, whether it's the Bush family or the Gores. And in some of those instances it looks like it's what is expected of [the son]. ... Was this the path that your father wanted for Mitt? Did Mitt go this route because that was something that was expected of him?

    Not at all. My father wanted us to pursue what we thought was best for ourselves. He wanted us to have good lives, and he didn't really care whether we went into politics or not went into politics.

    He did say this. My father believed that it was important to establish yourself in some field before you went into politics. That isn't right for everybody, obviously, and I know a number of great politicians who didn't follow that path.

    But my father believed it was important to have experience in the real world and to understand and to have success in that world, so that if you decided to go into politics, it wouldn't make a difference whether you won or lost; it wasn't going to be your career. You could really give and be honest about what you believed and do your best, and that you would have greater capacity to lead by having led in another sector. ...

    But in terms of suggesting that we run for office or encouraging us to run, he never really did that. When Mitt did run for Senate and lose, he said: "I hope you have a chance to do something again. Many times you learn more from a loss than from a win." ...

    So my parents didn't really have a path that they wanted us to follow. But when you worked on your parents' campaigns and you got to go to the meetings and see what was going on, you realized that you could get a lot done by helping other people.

    So from that standpoint, our parents taught us we have to give back to the community. My dad was very serious about the importance of us doing something besides whatever our professions were, and giving back in our church and in our community was a critical element.

    ... When I went to Cranbrook, the other people were all from the big auto companies and so forth, and my dad from this small company, and my dad said: "There'll be a lot of boys there, Scott, who think they're something because their fathers are something. And remember, what your parents do only gives you an opportunity. You have to decide what you're going to be yourself. And don't think that somebody's great just because their father was great." He was very serious about the importance of being the person that you need to be.

    ... Would Mitt have sought his counsel? Did you all seek his counsel in those moments?

    Yes. Changing jobs or doing anything that was a major significance, yes, we would ask our father's counsel. ...

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    Ann Romney   Mitt Romney's wife.

    Born Ann Davies, she met Mitt Romney in high school and the couple married in 1969, three months after Mitt returned from being a missionary in France. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Sept. 11, 2012.

    ...Speaking of his father, he himself has called his father his idol. Talk to me about the ways that you see sort of the influence of his father on him, and the way he's modeled his life after his father.

    You know, I see George Romney -- and, you know, Mitt and I both, we just mention his name, and we both start to cry now. It's unbelievable. Here, I'll start to tear up even just mentioning his name, because he had such a huge impact on my life and on Mitt's life, and on our life together. He loved us. I mean, he literally loved everything about us and just cherished us.

    But he was such a powerful example of service and a powerful example of fairness. He was right there with the civil rights movement. He was a bold person. He was just a good person.

    But you always saw him -- and this is how I saw George -- when I was 15, 16 years old, he treated me as his absolute equal. I never felt like there was an age discrepancy between us. He treated me as a grownup person. Sometimes, when you're that age, a lot of adults don't pay you, really, any attention. And that's just how he was with everyone. And, you know, that was something I admired in him and respected in him.

    And so I think we call it the service gene that I see in my husband as well, where it's just part of their nature, is to reach out and help others, to do things for others. And that's what I saw Mitt's father doing all the time. He's the one that got me involved in United Way. He got me involved in my service. He introduced me to Marian Heard, [former president and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and CEO of United Way of New England] in Boston. And that's how my journey started, with working with some at-risk youth in the inner city of Boston.

    And, you know, he was just an example, a role model for what you do for your community, how you give back, how you serve others, how you care for others. He was also pretty independent-minded and pretty strong and colorful, I would say, too. So he was always fun to be around. He was a huge impact on both of our lives. ...

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    Tagg Romney   Eldest son

    Tagg Romney is the oldest of Mitt Romney's five children. Here he discusses what Mitt and Ann are like as parents, as well as lessons his father learned running the Olympics, serving as a governor, and losing his bid for the White House in 2008.This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Aug. 7, 2012.

    So talk to me about as you sort of see the grandfather to the son, the role that he played for your father and how you see those values being passed down.

    My grandfather was an amazing man. You talk about character and integrity, everyone who knew him, whether they agreed with him or not, said, "George Romney is a good man, and he sticks to his principles, a man of honesty and hard work, integrity."

    And he passed those things on to my dad. My dad learned from him, hopefully like my dad's sons tried to learn from our dad. You just couldn't be in George Romney's presence without some of his goodness and integrity wearing off on you.

    And he told stories. My grandfather grew up during the Depression. His parents had gone bankrupt several times when he was young. And he -- there's nothing that bothered him more than wasting resources or money in any way. And that passed on to my dad. My dad is today still very frugal at everything that he does. He hates to see money wasted. He hates to see food bought that goes uneaten. Those things kind of passed on from his dad to him, and he's passed them on to us.

    Your grandfather also has a legacy of service. Is that something you think he instilled in your father, and then your father passed on? Does that connect to sort of faith and teaching? Explain that to me.

    Yeah, part of my grandfather's faith was it's a practical faith. It's not just believing but also putting into practice what you believe, which is the core of our faith is you're supposed to help others around you. And so my grandfather was very active and doing his best to help others that he came into contact with. My dad saw that. I think the same values passed on to my dad.

    All throughout my grandfather's life, even as he was in his 80s, he was very passionate about volunteerism. He thought volunteerism was the answer to most of our country's problems. And he went to President Reagan at the time, and President [George] H. W. Bush and got President Bush to consider signing the Points of Light bill, which he did. My grandfather believed very much that the country would be a better place if all of us took time, without getting paid, to spend time volunteering in our communities, helping other people.

    And my father feels the same way. He feels in his own life it's important that he spends time behind the scenes, without anyone knowing, helping other people.

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    Philip Barlow   Mormon historian

    (Text only) A professor Mormon History & Culture at Utah State University, Barlow worked with Mitt Romney in the leadership of their Massachusetts Mormon ward. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 19, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    In that same article you reference the relationship between Mitt and his father, and the lessons that you think he learned watching his father's political career. Talk to me about that. What do you think he learned observing his father?

    I know of his observations of his father a bit firsthand, that is, from Mitt's occasional reflections on one or another of his parents. I also know through scholarly means that he and his team studied what happened in his father's campaign and learned some things, like don't forget either wing of the party, and pay attention to that conservative wing of the Republican Party. You're not going to win the nomination without that, and George ran into that difficulty. So he clearly is a student of political history and the political history that's closest to him, and the campaigns of his parents.

    More personally, I remember him saying how George would always take one of his children, each one of the parents' grandchildren, on a summer trip. And I can't remember if it was an entire summer or a month, but some fairly long period of time. They would make it a point, when they were a certain age -- and I don't know if that was 12 or 14, but at a certain age -- and that's quite a commitment given a Mormon family and the number of grandchildren involved, to devote a good part of -- that would have meant for many years a good part of each summer that Mitt's parents attended to them like that.

    I remember he told me, and that's been out there in the media a little bit, this phrase, but he told me one time a story, laughing at himself at his own stubbornness, getting in an athletic contest with a track star. They were going to race and Mitt had no right to win this race, and it was a long thing, like a quarter-mile- or a half-mile-type race. But Mitt was not going to be defeated or die, and so he ran, he won, and then he got very sick after. But he was just laughing and said Romneys were built to swim upstream, getting at his own, "I don't like to be defeated" sort of a nature. ...

    It's not unlike the Jews, though the history is shorter and more diluted than the wretched persecutions that the Jews have gone through over the centuries. But there's something at least analogous, in a diluted form, in Mormon consciousness about surviving, about starting from scratch, and "We can do it," about not wringing your hands in the face of difficulty or challenge. And I think Mitt Romney, as I experienced him and the wider culture surrounding and informing him, would not look approvingly on "poor me" or wringing hands in the face of difficulty, but "Let's get to it. We can fix things." ...

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    Phillip Maxwell   Childhood friend

    Phillip Maxwell is an attorney in Michigan and a former classmate of Mitt Romney at the Cranbrook School. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Aug. 29, 2012.

    Do you think that his father, having sort of spent time with them and been at the house, is that a sort of path that his father laid for him? Or do you think it was something he saw great success in, ambition in his own dad, to want to make him proud? How do you see that?

    You know, Mitt's growing up was very much a political seminar, because he was involved in his father's campaigns. He was involved in his mother's campaign for the Senate. I think that was 1970, and he really saw it on the ground, because I remember that summer, I think they hit every county in Michigan, Lenore and Mitt. And it was a bruising campaign. She was attacked by the right wing of the party, and then she was attacked by the Democrats when the main part of the campaign started, and very unfairly. And she just got creamed, too, by Phil Hart, who -- it was a sacrificial run anyway.

    But Mitt, when he was away from school, he was involved in politics. I remember in the fifth grade him coming to school with a ballpoint pen. He gave it to me, and I looked at it. And it said "Richard M. Nixon, Vice President." And then he pulled out a piece of paper, and it was autographed to me from Richard Nixon. And he had been to dinner at the Romneys' house. So that's the kind of contact he was having as a kid. He was 10.

    It's like Alexander the Great. Who was his tutor, Aristotle? Mitt was tutored to go seek high office. The fact that his father had gotten derailed in his attempt I think only increased his determination to follow through and do it himself. And I know he's done it. So it's a remarkable thing. ...

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