Willard Mitt Romney (born March 12, 1947) is an American businessman and politician. He was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and he is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for the 2012 presidential election.
The son of George W. Romney the (Governor of Michigan) and Lenore Romney, he was raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. In 1966, after one year at Stanford University, he left the United States for thirty months in France as a Mormon missionary. He married Ann Davies in 1969 and they have five children together. He earned an undergraduate degree in English from Brigham Young University in 1971, and then a joint JD and MBA from Harvard University in 1975. He entered the management consulting business, which led to a position at Bain & Company. Eventually serving as CEO, he brought the company out of crisis. In 1984 he was co-founder and head of the spin-off company Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm that became highly profitable and one of the largest such firms in the nation. His wealth helped fund most of his future political campaigns. Active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he served as ward bishop and later stake president in his area. He ran as the Republican candidate in the 1994 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, losing to long-time incumbent Ted Kennedy. Romney was President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, which organized the 2002 Winter Olympics, and he helped turn the financially troubled games into a success.
He was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 2002 but did not seek re-election in 2006. He presided over a series of spending cuts and increases in fees that eliminated a projected $1.5 billion deficit. He also signed into law the Massachusetts health care reform legislation, the first of its kind in the nation, which provided near-universal health insurance access via state-level subsidies and individual mandates.
Romney ran for the Republican nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, winning several primaries and caucuses but losing the nomination to John McCain. In the following years, he gave speeches and raised campaign funds on behalf of his fellow Republicans. In June 2011, he announced that he would seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. The results of the party caucuses and primaries indicated him as the clear leader and in April 2012 the Republican National Committee declared him the presumptive nominee.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Business career
- 3 Local LDS Church leadership
- 4 1994 U.S. senatorial campaign
- 5 2002 Winter Olympics
- 6 Governor of Massachusetts
- 7 2008 presidential campaign
- 8 Writings
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Early life and education
Heritage and youth
He was preceded in birth by three siblings: Margo Lynn, Jane LaFount, and G. Scott. Mitt followed after a gap of six years. He was named after hotel magnate J. Willard Marriott]], his father's best friend, and his father's cousin Milton "Mitt" Romney, a quarterback for the Chicago Bears during the 1920s. When he was five, the family moved from Detroit to the affluent suburb of Bloomfield Hills. His father became CEO of American Motors and turned the company around from the brink of bankruptcy; by the time he was twelve, his father had become a nationally known figure in print and on television. Romney idolized his father, read automotive trade magazines, kept abreast of automotive developments, and aspired to be an executive in the industry. His father also presided over the Detroit Stake of the LDS Church.
He attended public elementary schools until the seventh grade, when he began commuting to Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, a traditional private boys' preparatory school where he was the lone Mormon and where many students came from backgrounds even more privileged then he. He was not particularly athletic and at first did not excel academically. During his sophomore year he participated in the 1962 campaign in which his father was elected Governor of Michigan. When his parents moved to the state capitol as part of George Romney taking office, Mitt took up residence at Cranbrook's Stevens Hall. George Romney was re-elected twice; Mitt worked for him as an intern in the governor's office, and was present at the 1964 Republican National Convention when his moderate father battled conservative party nominee Barry Goldwater over issues of civil rights and ideological extremism. During these years, Romney had a steady set of chores and summer jobs, including working as a security guard at a Chrysler plant.
At Cranbrook, Romney was a manager for the ice hockey team and a member of the pep squad, and during his final year joined the cross country running team. He belonged to eleven school organizations and school clubs, and started the Blue Key Club boosters group. During his final year at Cranbook, Romney improved academically, but was still not a star pupil. He won an award for those "whose contributions to school life are often not fully recognized through already existing channels". Romney was an energetic child who enjoyed pranks.[nb 1]
In March of his senior year, he began dating Ann Davies, two years his younger, whom he had once known in elementary school; she attended the private Kingswood School, the sister school to Cranbrook. The two informally agreed to marriage around the time of his June 1965 graduation.
University, France mission, marriage and children: 1965–1975
Romney attended Stanford University for a year, where he worked as a night security guard to fund secret trips home to see Ann. Although the campus was becoming radicalized with the beginnings of 1960s social and political movements, Romney kept a well-groomed appearance and enjoyed traditional campus events. In May 1966, he was part of a counter-protest against a group staging a sit-in in the university administration building in opposition to draft status tests.
In July 1966, Romney left for thirty months in France as a Mormon missionary. Missionary work was a traditional rite of passage that his father and many other relatives had volunteered for. He arrived in Le Havre with ideas about how to change and promote the French Mission, while facing physical and economic deprivation in their cramped quarters. Rules against drinking, smoking, and dating were strictly enforced. Like most individual Mormon missionaries, Romney did not gain many converts; (he later put the number at ten to twenty for his entire mission). the nominally Catholic but secular, wine-loving French people proved especially resistant to a religion that prohibits alcohol. He became demoralized, and later recalled it as the only time when "most of what I was trying to do was rejected." In Nantes, Romney suffered a bruised jaw while defending two female missionaries who were being bothered by a group of local rugby players. He continued to work hard; having grown up in Michigan rather than the more insular Utah world, Romney was better able to interact with the French. He was promoted to zone leader in Bordeaux in early 1968, then in the spring of that year became assistant to the mission president in Paris, the highest position for a missionary. In the Mission Home in Paris he enjoyed palace-like accommodations. Romney's support for the U.S. role in the Vietnam War was only reinforced when the French greeted him with hostility over the matter and he debated them in return. He witnessed the May 1968 general strike and student uprisings and was upset by the breakdown in social order.
In June 1968, an automobile Romney was driving in southern France was hit by another vehicle, seriously injuring him and killing one of his passengers, the wife of the mission president. Romney, who was not at fault in the accident, became co-acting president of a mission demoralized and disorganized by the May civil disturbances and by the car accident. Romney rallied and motivated the others and they met an ambitious goal of 200 baptisms for the year, the most for the mission in a decade. By the end of his stint in December 1968, Romney was overseeing the work of 175 fellow members. Romney, who was not at fault in the accident, Romney developed a lifelong affection for France and its people, and speaks French. The experience in the country instilled in him a belief that life is fragile and that he needed seriousness of purpose. It also represented a crucible, after having been only a half-hearted Mormon growing up: "On a mission, your faith in Jesus Christ either evaporates or it becomes much deeper ... For me it became much deeper."
While he was away, Ann Davies had converted to Mormonism, guided by George Romney, and had begun attending Brigham Young University (BYU). Romney was nervous that she had been wooed by others while he was away, and she had indeed started dating popular campus figure Kim S. Cameron and had sent Romney in France a "Dear John letter", greatly upsetting him; he wrote to her to in an attempt to win her back. At their first meeting following Romney's return they reconnected, and decided to get married immediately but agreed to wait three months to appease their parents. At Ann's request, Romney began attending Brigham Young too, in February 1969. The couple were married on March 21, 1969, in a civil ceremony at Ann's family's home in Bloomfield Hills that was presided over by a church elder. The following day, the couple flew to Utah for a wedding ceremony at the Salt Lake Temple.
Romney had missed much of the tumultuous American anti-Vietnam War movement while away, and was surprised to learn that his father had turned against the war during his unsuccessful 1968 presidential campaign. Regarding the military draft, Romney had initially received a student deferment, then, like most Mormon missionaries, a ministerial deferment while in France, and then a student deferment. When those ran out, his high number in the December 1969 draft lottery (300) ensured he would not be selected.
At culturally conservative BYU, Romney continued to be separated from much of the upheaval of the era, and did not join in those protests that did occur against the war or the LDS Church's policy at the time of denying full membership to blacks. He became president of, and an innovative fundraiser for, the all-male Cougar Club booster organization and showed a new-found discipline in his studies. In his senior year, he took leave to work as driver and advance man for his mother Lenore Romney's eventually unsuccessful 1970 campaign for U.S. Senator from Michigan. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with highest honors in 1971, and gave commencement addresses to both his own College of Humanities and to the whole university.
The Romneys' first son, Tagg, was born in 1970 while the Romneys were undergraduates at Brigham Young and living in a basement apartment. Ann subsequently gave birth to Matt (1971), Josh (1975), Ben (1978), and Craig (1981). Ann Romney's work as a homemaker would enable her husband to pursue his career.
Romney still wanted to pursue a business path, but his father, by now serving in President Richard Nixon's cabinet as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, advised that a law degree would be valuable. Thus Romney became one of only fifteen students to enroll at the recently created joint Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration four-year program coordinated between Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. Fellow students considered Romney guilelessly optimistic, noting his solid work ethic and buttoned-down demeanor and appearance. He readily adapted to the business school's pragmatic, data-driven case study method of teaching, participated in class well, and led a study group whom he pushed to get all A's. He had a different social experience from most of his classmates, since he lived in a Belmont, Massachusetts, house with Ann and two children. He was non-ideological and did not involve himself in the political or social issues of the day. He graduated in 1975 cum laude from the law school, in the top third of that class, and was named a Baker Scholar for graduating in the top five percent of his business school class.
Romney was recruited by several firms and chose to remain in Massachusetts to work for Boston Consulting Group (BCG), thinking that working as a management consultant to a variety of companies would prepare him for a future job as a chief executive. He was part of a 1970s wave of top graduates who chose to go into consulting rather than join a major company directly. His legal and business education proved useful in his job, and he became a rising star while applying BCG principles such as the growth-share matrix.
In 1977, he was hired away by Bain & Company, a management consulting firm in Boston that had been formed a few years earlier by Bill Bain and other former BCG employees. Bain would later say of the thirty-year-old Romney, "He had the appearance of confidence of a guy who was maybe ten years older." With Bain & Company, Romney learned the "Bain way", which consisted of immersing the firm in each client's business, and not just issuing recommendations but staying with the company until changes were put into place. Romney became a vice president of the firm in 1978 and worked with clients such as the Monsanto Company, Outboard Marine Corporation, Burlington Industries, and Corning Incorporated. Within a few years, he was one of Bain & Company's best consultants and was sought after by clients over more senior partners.
[[File:Bain Capital.png|thumb|right|246px|alt=Plain logo consisting of white serif letters against dark blue background|Logo of Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney co-founded in 1984 Romney was restless for a company of his own to run, and in 1983, Bill Bain offered him the chance to head a new venture that would buy into companies, have them benefit from Bain techniques, and then reap higher rewards than consulting fees. Romney initially refrained from accepting the offer, and Bain re-arranged the terms in a complicated partnership structure so that there was no financial or professional risk to Romney. Thus, in 1984, Romney left Bain & Company to co-found the spin-off private equity investment firm, Bain Capital. In the face of skepticism from potential investors, Bain and Romney spent a year raising the $37 million in funds needed to start the new operation, which had fewer than ten employees. As general partner of the new firm, Romney spent little money on costs such as office appearance, and saw weak spots in so many potential deals that by 1986, few had been done. At first, Bain Capital focused on venture capital opportunities. Their first big success was a 1986 investment to help start Staples Inc., after founder Thomas G. Stemberg convinced Romney of the market size for office supplies and Romney convinced others; Bain Capital eventually reaped a nearly sevenfold return on its investment, and Romney sat on the Staples board of directors for over a decade.
Romney soon switched Bain Capital's focus from startups to the relatively new business of leveraged buyouts: buying existing firms with money mostly borrowed against their assets, partnering with existing management to apply the "Bain way" to their operations (rather than the hostile takeovers practiced in other leverage buyout scenarios), and selling them off in a few years. Existing CEOs were offered large equity stakes in the process, owing to Bain Capital's belief in the emerging agency theory that CEOs should be bound to maximizing shareholder value rather than other goals. Bain Capital lost most of its money in many of its early leveraged buyouts, but then started finding deals that made large returns. The firm invested in or acquired Accuride, Brookstone, Domino's Pizza, Sealy Corporation, Sports Authority, and Artisan Entertainment, as well as lesser-known companies in the industrial and medical sectors. During the 14 years Romney headed the company, Bain Capital's average annual internal rate of return on realized investments was 113 percent. Much of this profit was earned from a relatively small number of deals; Bain Capital's overall success–to–failure ratio was about even.
Less an entrepreneur than an executive running an investment operation, Romney was skilled at presenting and selling the deals the company made. The firm initially gave a cut of its profits to Bain & Company, but Romney persuaded Bain to give that up. Within Bain Capital, Romney spread profits from deals widely within the firm to keep people motivated, often keeping less than ten percent for himself. Viewed as a fair manager, he received considerable loyalty from the firm's members. Romney's wary instincts were still in force at times, and he was generally data-driven and averse to risk. He wanted to drop a Bain Capital hedge fund that initially lost money, but other partners prevailed and it eventually gained billions. He also personally opted out of the Artisan Entertainment deal, not wanting to profit from a studio that produced R-rated films. Romney was on the board of directors of Damon Corporation, a medical testing company later found guilty of defrauding the government; Bain Capital tripled its investment before selling off the company, and the fraud was discovered by the new owners (Romney was never implicated). In some cases, Romney had little involvement with a company once acquired.
Bain Capital's leveraged buyouts sometimes led to layoffs, either soon after acquisition or later after the firm had left. How jobs added compared to those lost due to these investments and buyouts is unknown, due to a lack of records and Bain Capital's penchant for privacy on behalf of itself and its investors. In any case, maximizing the value of acquired companies and the return to Bain's investors, not job creation, was the firm's fundamental goal, as it was for most private equity operations. Bain Capital's acquisition of Ampad exemplified a deal where it profited handsomely from early payments and management fees, even though the subject company itself ended up going into bankruptcy. Dade Behring was another case where Bain Capital received an eightfold return on its investment, but the company itself was saddled with debt and laid off over a thousand employees before Bain Capital exited (the company subsequently went into bankruptcy, with more layoffs, before recovering and prospering). Bain was among the private equity firms that took the most fees in such cases.
In 1990, Romney was asked to return to Bain & Company, which was facing financial collapse. He was announced as its new CEO in January 1991 (but drew only a symbolic salary of one dollar). Romney managed an effort to restructure the firm's employee stock-ownership plan, real-estate deals and bank loans, while rallying the firm's thousand employees, imposing a new governing structure that included Bain and the other founding partners giving up control, and increasing fiscal transparency. Within about a year, he had led Bain & Company through a turnaround and returned the firm to profitability without further layoffs or partner defections. He turned Bain & Company over to new leadership and returned to Bain Capital in December 1992.
Romney left Bain Capital in February 1999 to serve as the President and CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee. By that time, Bain Capital was on its way to being one of the top private equity firms in the nation, having increased its number of partners from 5 to 18, having 115 employees overall, and having $4 billion under its management. Bain Capital's approach of applying consulting expertise to the companies it invested in became widely copied within the private equity industry. Economist Steven Kaplan would later say, "[Romney] came up with a model that was very successful and very innovative and that now everybody uses."
Romney announced that he would not return to Bain Capital in August 2001. He transferred his ownership to other partners and negotiated an agreement that allowed him to receive a passive profit share as a retired partner in some Bain Capital entities, including buyout and investment funds. Because the private equity business continued to thrive, this deal brought him millions of dollars in annual income. As a result of his business career, by 2007, Romney and his wife had a net worth of between $190 and $250 million, most of it held in blind trusts since 2003. It has been estimated that Romney has amassed twice the net worth of the last eight presidents combined, and would rank among the four richest in American history if elected.
An additional blind trust existed in the name of the Romneys' children and grandchildren that was valued at between $70 and $100 million as of 2007. The couple's net worth remained in the same range as of 2011, and was still held in blind trusts. In 2010, Romney and his wife received $21.7 million in income, almost all of it from investments, of which about $3 million went to federal income taxes (a rate of 13.9 percent, based upon the beneficial rate accorded investment income by the U.S. tax code) and almost $3 million to charity, including $1.5 million to the LDS Church. Romney has always tithed to the church, including stock from Bain Capital holdings. In 2010, the Romney family's Tyler Charitable Foundation gave out about $650,000, with some of it going to organizations that fight specific diseases such as cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis.
Local LDS Church leadership
During his years in business, Romney also served in the local lay clergy. Around 1977, he became a counselor to a Boston-area leader. He then served as ward bishop for Belmont, Massachusetts, from 1981 to 1986, acting as the ecclesiastical and administrative head of his congregation. As such, he formulated Sunday services and classes, using the LDS scriptures to guide the congregation, and also did home teaching. He forged bonds with other religious institutions in the area when the Belmont meetinghouse was destroyed by a fire of suspicious origins in 1984; the congregation rotated its meetings to other houses of worship while it was rebuilt.
From 1986 to 1994, Romney presided over the Boston Stake, which included more than a dozen congregations in eastern Massachusetts with a total of about 4,000 church members. He organized a team to handle financial and management issues, sought to counter anti-Mormon sentiments, and tried to solve social problems among poor Southeast Asian converts. An unpaid position, Romney's local church leadership often took 30 or more hours a week of his time, and he became known for his unflagging energy in the role. He generally refrained from overnight business travel owing to his church responsibilities.
Romney took a hands-on role in general matters, helping in maintenance efforts in- and outside homes, visiting the sick, and counseling troubled or burdened church members. A number of local church members later credited Romney with turning their lives around or helping them through difficult times. Some others were rankled by his leadership style and desired a more consensus-based approach. Romney tried to balance the conservative dogma insisted upon by the church leadership in Utah with the desire of some Massachusetts members to have a more flexible application of doctrine. He agreed with some modest requests from the liberal women's group Exponent II for changes in the way the church dealt with women, but clashed with women whom he felt were departing too much from doctrine. In particular, he counseled women not to have abortions except in the rare cases allowed by LDS doctrine, and also in accordance with doctrine, encouraged prospective mothers who were not in successful marriages to give up children for adoption. Romney later said that the years spent as an LDS minister gave him direct exposure to people struggling in economically difficult circumstances, and empathy for those going through problematic family situations.
1994 U.S. senatorial campaign
By 1994, Romney had been thinking about entering politics for a while. He decided to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, who was seeking re-election for the sixth time. Kennedy was potentially vulnerable that year – in part because of the unpopularity of the Democratic Congress as a whole, and in part because this was Kennedy's first election since the William Kennedy Smith trial in Florida, in which Kennedy had taken some public relations hits regarding his character. Romney changed his affiliation from |Independent to Republican in October 1993 and formally announced his candidacy in February 1994. He took a leave of absence from Bain Capital in November 1993, and stepped down from his church leadership role during 1994, due to the campaign.
Radio personality Janet Jeghelian took an early lead in polls among candidates for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat, but Romney proved the most effective fundraiser. He won 68 percent of the vote at the May 1994 Massachusetts Republican Party convention; businessman John Lakian finished a distant second and Jeghelian was eliminated. Romney defeated Lakian in the September 1994 primary with over 80 percent of the vote.
In the general election, Kennedy faced the first serious re-election challenger of his career in the young, telegenic, and well-funded Romney. Romney ran as a fresh face, as a businessperson who stated he had created ten thousand jobs, and as a Washington outsider with a solid family image and moderate stances on social issues. When Kennedy tried to tie Romney's policies to those of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, Romney responded, "Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. I'm not trying to take us back to Reagan-Bush." Romney stated: "Ultimately, this is a campaign about change." After two decades out of public view, his father George re-emerged during the campaign as well.
Romney's campaign was effective in portraying Kennedy as soft on crime, but had trouble establishing its own positions in a consistent manner. By mid-September 1994, polls showed the race to be approximately even. Kennedy responded with a series of attack ads, which focused on Romney's seemingly shifting political views on issues such as abortion and on the treatment of workers at the Ampad plant owned by Romney's Bain Capital. The latter was effective in blunting Romney's momentum. Kennedy and Romney held a widely watched late October debate without a clear winner, but by then, Kennedy had pulled ahead in polls and stayed ahead afterward. Romney spent $3 million of his own money in the race. In the November general election, despite a disastrous showing for Democrats overall, Kennedy won the election with 58 percent of the vote to Romney's 41 percent.
2002 Winter Olympics
Romney returned to Bain Capital the day after the election, but the loss had a lasting effect; he told his brother, "I never want to run for something again unless I can win." When his father died in 1995, Mitt donated his inheritance to BYU's George W. Romney Institute of Public Management and joined the board and was vice-chair of the Points of Light Foundation (which had incorporated his father's National Volunteer Center). His mother died in 1998. Romney felt restless as the decade neared a close; the goal of simply making more money was losing its appeal to him. He no longer had a church leadership position, although he still taught Sunday School. During the long and controversial approval and construction process for the $30 million Mormon temple in Belmont, Romney feared that as a political figure who had opposed Kennedy, he would become a focal point for opposition to the structure. He thus kept to a limited, behind-the-scenes role in attempts to ease tensions between the church and local residents, but locals nonetheless sometimes referred to it as "Mitt's Temple".
Ann Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998; Romney described watching her fail a series of neurological tests as the worst day of his life. After two years of severe difficulties with the disease, she found while living in Park City, Utah (where the couple had built a vacation home) a mixture of mainstream, alternative, and equestrian therapies that gave her a lifestyle mostly without limitations. When the offer came for Romney to take over the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, to be held in Salt Lake City in Utah, she urged him to take it, and eager for a new challenge, he did. On February 11, 1999, Romney was hired as the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games of 2002.
Before Romney came on, the event was running $379 million short of its revenue benchmarks. Plans were being made to scale back the games to compensate for the fiscal crisis, and there were fears the games might be moved away entirely. The Games had also been damaged by allegations of bribery involving top officials, including prior Salt Lake Olympic Committee president and CEO Frank Joklik. Joklik and committee vice president Dave Johnson were forced to resign. Romney was chosen by Utah figures looking for someone with expertise in business and law and with connections to the state and the LDS Church. The appointment faced some initial criticism from non-Mormons, and fears from Mormons, that it represented cronyism or gave the games too Mormon an image.
Romney revamped the organization's leadership and policies, reduced budgets, and boosted fund raising. He soothed worried corporate sponsors and recruited many new ones. He admitted past problems, listened to local critics, and appealed to Utah's citizenry with a message of optimism. Romney worked to ensure the safety of the Games following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by coordinating a $300 million security budget. Overall, he oversaw a $1.32 billion budget, 700 employees, and 26,000 volunteers. The federal government provided $382 million of that budget, much of it because Romney lobbied Congress to provide money for security- and non-security-related items. An additional federal $1.1 billion was spent on indirect support in the form of highway and transit projects.
Romney became the public face of the Olympic effort, appearing in countless photographs and news stories and even on Olympics souvenir pins. Romney's omnipresence irked those who thought he was taking too much of the credit for the success, had exaggerated the state of initial distress, or was primarily looking to improve his own image.
Despite the initial fiscal shortfall, the Games ended up clearing a profit of $100 million, not counting the $224.5 million in security costs contributed by outside sources. His performance as Olympics head was rated positively by 87 percent of Utahns. Romney and his wife contributed $1 million to the Olympics, and he donated to charity the $1.4 million in salary and severance payments he received for his three years as president and CEO.
Romney was widely praised for his efforts with the 2002 Winter Olympics including by President George W. Bush, and it solidified his reputation as a turnaround artist. Harvard Business School taught a case study based around his actions. He wrote a book about his experience titled Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games, published in 2004. The role gave Romney experience in dealing with federal, state, and local entities, a public persona he had previously lacked, and the chance to re-launch his political aspirations. He was mentioned as a possible candidate for statewide office in both Massachusetts and Utah, and also as possibly joining the Bush administration.
Governor of Massachusetts
2002 gubernatorial campaign
In 2002, Republican Acting Governor Jane Swift's administration was plagued by political missteps and personal scandals. Many Republicans viewed her as a liability and considered her unable to win a general election. Prominent party figures campaigned to persuade Romney to run for governor, and the opportunity appealed to him for its national visibility. One poll taken at that time showed Republicans favoring Romney over Swift by more than 50 percentage points. On March 19, 2002, Swift announced she would not seek her party's nomination, and hours later Romney declared his candidacy, for which would face no opposition in the primary. In June 2002, Massachusetts Democratic Party officials contested Romney's eligibility to run for governor, citing residency issues involving his time in Utah for the Olympics. That same month, the bipartisan Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission unanimously ruled that he was an eligible candidate.
He again ran as a political outsider, saying he was "not a partisan Republican" but rather a "moderate" with "progressive" views. Supporters of Romney hailed his business success, especially with the Olympics, as the record of someone who would be able to bring a new era of efficiency into Massachusetts politics. The campaign was the first to use microtargeting techniques, in which fine-grained groups of voters were reached with narrowly tailored messaging. Nevertheless, Romney initially had difficulty connecting with voters and fell behind his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, in polls before rebounding. During the election he contributed over $6 million to his own campaign, a state record at the time. Romney was elected governor on November 5, 2002, with 50 percent of the vote to O'Brien's 45 percent.
When he was sworn in as the 70th governor of Massachusetts on January 2, 2003,  both houses of the Massachusetts state legislature held large Democratic majorities. He picked his cabinet and advisors more on managerial abilities than partisan affiliation. Upon entering office in the middle of a fiscal year, he faced an immediate $650 million shortfall and a projected $3 billion deficit for the next year. Unexpected revenue of $1.0–1.3 billion from a previously enacted capital gains tax increase and $500 million in unanticipated federal grants decreased the deficit to $1.2–1.5 billion. Through a combination of spending cuts, increased fees, and removal of corporate tax loopholes, the state ran surpluses of around $600–700 million for the last two full fiscal years Romney was in office, although it began running deficits again after that.
Romney supported raising various fees by more than $300 million, including those for driver's licenses, marriage licenses, and gun licenses. He increased a special gasoline retailer fee by two cents per gallon, generating about $60 million per year in additional revenue. (Opponents said the reliance on fees sometimes imposed a hardship on those who could least afford them.) Romney also closed tax loopholes that brought in another $181 million from businesses over the next two years and over $300 million for his term. Romney did so in the face of conservative and corporate critics that considered them tax increases.
The state legislature, with Romney's support, also cut spending by $1.6 billion, including $700 million in reductions in state aid to cities and towns. The cuts also included a $140 million reduction in state funding for higher education, which led state-run colleges and universities to increase tuition by 63 percent over four years. Romney sought additional cuts in his last year as governor by vetoing nearly 250 items in the state budget, but all were overridden by the heavily Democratic legislature.
The cuts in state spending put added pressure on localities to reduce services or raise property taxes, and the share of town and city revenues coming from property taxes rose from 49 to 53 percent. The combined state and local tax burden in Massachusetts increased during Romney's governorship but remained below the national average.
Romney sought to bring near-universal health insurance coverage to the state. This came after Staples founder Stemberg told him at the start of his term that doing so would be the best way he could help people, and after the federal government, owing to the rules of Medicaid funding, threatened to cut $385 million in those payments to Massachusetts if the state did not reduce the number of uninsured recipients of health care services. Although he had not campaigned on the idea of universal health insurance, Romney decided that because people without insurance still received expensive health care, the money spent by the state for such care could be better used to subsidize insurance for the poor.
After positing that any measure adopted not raise taxes and not resemble the previous decade's failed "Hillarycare" proposal, Romney formed a team of consultants from diverse political backgrounds. Beginning in late 2004, they came up with a set of proposals more ambitious than an incremental one from the Massachusetts Senate and more acceptable to him than one from the Massachusetts House of Representatives that incorporated a new payroll tax. In particular, Romney pushed for incorporating an individual mandate at the state level. Past rival Ted Kennedy, who had made universal heath coverage his life's work and who, over time, had developed a warm relationship with Romney, gave the plan a positive reception, which encouraged Democratic legislators to cooperate. The effort eventually gained the support of all major stakeholders within the state, and Romney helped break a logjam between rival Democratic leaders in the legislature.
On April 12, 2006, Romney signed the resulting Massachusetts health reform law, which requires nearly all Massachusetts residents to buy health insurance coverage or face escalating tax penalties, such as the loss of their personal income tax exemption. The bill also establishes means-tested state subsidies for people who do not have adequate employer insurance and whose income is below a threshold, with funds that were previously used to compensate for the health costs of the uninsured. He vetoed eight sections of the health care legislation, including a controversial $295-per-employee assessment on businesses that do not offer health insurance and provisions guaranteeing dental benefits to Medicaid recipients. The legislature overrode all eight vetoes, but the governor's office said the differences were not essential. The law was the first of its kind in the nation and became the signature achievement of Romney's term in office.
At the beginning of his governorship, Romney opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions, but advocated tolerance and supported some domestic partnership benefits. Faced with the dilemma of choosing between same-sex marriage or civil unions after the November 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision legalizing same-sex marriages (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health), Romney reluctantly backed a state constitutional amendment in February 2004 that would have banned same-sex marriage but still allow civil unions, viewing it as the only feasible way to ban same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. In May 2004, Romney instructed town clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but citing a 1913 law that barred out-of-state residents from getting married in Massachusetts if their union would be illegal in their home state, no marriage licenses were to be issued to out-of-state same-sex couples not planning to move to Massachusetts. In June 2005, Romney abandoned his support for the compromise amendment, stating that the amendment confused voters who oppose both same-sex marriage and civil unions. Instead, Romney endorsed a petition effort led by the Coalition for Marriage & Family that would have banned same-sex marriage and made no provisions for civil unions. In 2004 and 2006, he urged the U.S. Senate to vote in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.
In 2005, Romney revealed a change of view regarding abortion, moving from the "unequivocal" pro-choice position expressed during his 2002 campaign to a pro-life one in opposition to Roe v. Wade. He subsequently vetoed a bill on pro-life grounds that would expand access to emergency contraception in hospitals and pharmacies (the veto was overridden by the legislature).
Romney generally used the bully pulpit approach towards promoting his agenda, staging well-organized media events to appeal directly to the public rather than pushing his proposals in behind-doors sessions with the state legislature. Romney dealt with a public crisis of confidence in Boston's Big Dig project – that followed a fatal ceiling collapse in 2006 – by wresting control of the project from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.
During 2004, Romney spent considerable effort trying to bolster the state Republican Party, but it failed to gain any seats in the state legislative elections that year. He was given a prime-time appearance at the 2004 Republican National Convention, and was already being discussed as a potential 2008 presidential candidate. Midway through his term, Romney decided that he wanted to stage a full-time run for president, and on December 14, 2005, announced that he would not seek re-election for a second term. As chair of the Republican Governors Association, Romney traveled around the country, meeting prominent Republicans and building a national political network; he spent part or all of more than 200 days out of state during 2006, preparing for his run. Romney's frequent out-of-state travel contributed to a decline in his approval rating in public polls towards the end of his term. The weak condition of the Republican state party was one of several factors that led to Democrat Deval Patrick's lopsided win over Republican Kerry Healey in the 2006 Massachusetts gubernatorial election.
Romney filed to register a presidential campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission on his penultimate day in office as governor. His term ended January 4, 2007.
2008 presidential campaign
Romney formally announced his candidacy for the 2008 Republican nomination for president on February 13, 2007, at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. In his speech, Romney frequently invoked his father and his own family and stressed experiences in the private, public, and voluntary sectors that had brought him to this point. He said, "Throughout my life, I have pursued innovation and transformation," and casting himself as a political outsider, said, "I do not believe Washington can be transformed from within by a lifelong politician."
The assets that Romney's campaign initially emphasized included his résumé of a highly profitable career in the business world and his stewardship of the Olympics. He also had political experience as governor, together with a political pedigree courtesy of his father, and had a reputation for a strong work ethic and energy level. Ann Romney, who had become an outspoken advocate for those with multiple sclerosis, was in remission and would be an active participant in his campaign, helping to soften his political personality. Moreover, a number of commentators noted that with his square jaw and ample hair graying at the temples, the 6-foot-2-inch (1.88 m) Romney – referred to as handsome in scores of media stories – physically matched one of the common images of what some believed a president should look like. Romney's liabilities included having run for senator and served as governor in one of the nation's most liberal states, having taken some positions there that were opposed by the party's conservative base, and subsequently shifting those positions. His religion was also viewed with suspicion and skepticism by some in the Evangelical portion of the party.
Romney assembled for his campaign a veteran group of Republican staffers, consultants, and pollsters. He was little-known nationally, though, and stayed around the 10 percent range in Republican preference polls for the first half of 2007. He proved the most effective fundraiser of any of the Republican candidates; his Olympics ties helped him with fundraising from Utahns and from sponsors and trustees of the games. He also partly financed his campaign with his own personal fortune. These resources, combined with the mid-year near-collapse of nominal front-runner John McCain's campaign, made Romney a threat to win the nomination and the focus of the other candidates' attacks. Romney's staff suffered from internal strife and the candidate himself was indecisive at times, constantly asking for more data before making a decision.
During all of his political campaigns, Romney has generally avoided speaking publicly about specific Mormon doctrines, referring to the U.S. Constitution prohibition of religious tests for public office. But persistent questions about the role of religion in Romney's life in this race, as well as Southern Baptist minister and former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee's rise in the polls based upon an explicitly Christian-themed campaign, led to the December 6, 2007, "Faith in America" speech. He said should neither be elected nor rejected based upon his religion, and echoed Senator John F. Kennedy's famous speech during his 1960 presidential campaign in saying, "I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law." Instead of discussing the specific tenets of his faith, he said that he would be informed by it and that, "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone." Academics would later study the role religion had played in the campaign.
In the January 3, 2008, Iowa Republican caucuses, the first contest of the primary season, Romney received 25 percent of the vote and placed second to the vastly outspent Huckabee, who received 34 percent. Of the 60 percent of caucus-goers who were evangelical Christians, Huckabee was supported by about half of them while Romney by only a fifth. Two days later, Romney won the lightly contested Wyoming Republican caucuses.
At a Saint Anselm College debate, Huckabee and McCain pounded away at Romney's image as a flip flopper. Indeed, this label would stick to Romney through the campaign (but was one that Romney rejected as unfair and inaccurate, except for his acknowledged change of mind on abortion). Romney seemed to approach the campaign as a management consulting exercise, and showed a lack of personal warmth and political feel; journalist Evan Thomas wrote that Romney "came off as a phony, even when he was perfectly sincere." Romney's staff would conclude that competing as a candidate of social conservatism and ideological purity rather than of pragmatic competence had been a mistake.
Romney finished in second place by 5 percentage points to the resurgent McCain in the next-door-to-his-home-state New Hampshire primary on January 8. Romney rebounded to win the January 15 Michigan primary over McCain by a solid margin, capitalizing on his childhood ties to the state and his vow to bring back lost automotive industry jobs which was seen by several commentators as unrealistic. On January 19, Romney won the lightly contested Nevada caucuses, but placed fourth in the intense South Carolina primary, where he had effectively ceded the contest to his rivals. McCain gained further momentum with his win in South Carolina, leading to a showdown between him and Romney in the Florida primary.
For ten days, Romney campaigned intensively on economic issues and the burgeoning subprime mortgage crisis, while McCain repeatedly, and inaccurately, asserted that Romney favored a premature withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. McCain won key last-minute endorsements from Florida Senator Mel Martinez and Governor Charlie Crist, which helped push him to a 5 percentage point victory on January 29. Although many Republican officials were now lining up behind McCain, Romney persisted through the nationwide Super Tuesday contests on February 5. There he won primaries or caucuses in several states, including Massachusetts, Alaska, Minnesota, Colorado, and Utah, but McCain won more, including large states such as California and New York. Trailing McCain in delegates by a more than two-to-one margin, Romney announced the end of his campaign on February 7 during a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
Altogether, Romney had won 11 primaries and caucuses, received about 4.7 million total votes, and garnered about 280 delegates. He spent $110 million during the campaign, including $45 million of his own money.
Romney endorsed McCain for president a week later. He became one of the McCain campaign's most visible surrogates, appearing on behalf of the GOP nominee at fundraisers, state Republican party conventions, and on cable news programs. His efforts earned McCain's respect and the two developed a warmer relationship; he was on the nominee's short list for the vice presidential running mate slot, where his economic expertise would have balanced one of McCain's weaknesses. McCain, behind in the polls, opted instead for a high-risk, high-reward "game changer", and selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. McCain lost the election to Democratic Senator Barack Obama.
- Such pranks included sliding down golf courses on large ice cubes, dressing as a police officer and tapping on the car windows of teenage friends who were making out, and staging an elaborate formal dinner on the median of a busy street. The golf course escapade apparently got Romney and Ann Davies arrested, or otherwise detained, by the local police. Romney was also arrested in 1981 while at a family outing at Lake Cochituate in Massachusetts. According to Romney, a ranger from Cochituate State Park told him his motorboat had an insufficiently visible license number and he would face a $50 fine if he took the boat onto the lake. Disagreeing about the license and wanting to continue the outing, Romney took it out anyway, saying he would pay the fine. The angry officer then arrested him for disorderly conduct. The charges were dropped several days later after Romney threatened to sue the officer and the state for false arrest.
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- An April 2012 Google News archive search for the period of Romney's 2007–2008 campaign. Among those describing Romney as handsome was another presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama.
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- "Election Center 2008: Delegate Scorecard". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/primaries/results/scorecard/#R. Retrieved April 11, 2010.
- "2008 Republican Popular Vote". RealClearPolitics. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/president/republican_vote_count.html. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
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- Wangsness, Lisa (June 8, 2008). "Once a rival now a Champion: Romney returns to promote McCain". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/06/08/once_a_rival_now_a_champion/.
- Balz and Johnson, The Battle for America 2008, pp. 328, 331.
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- Balz, Dan; Johnson, Haynes (2009). The Battle for America, 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election. New York: Viking Penguin. ISBN 978-0-670-02111-6.
- Barone, Michael; Cohen, Richard E. (2004) (paperback). The Almanac of American Politics 2004. Washington: National Journal Group. ISBN 978-0-89234-106-1.
- Barone, Michael; Cohen, Richard E. (2006). The Almanac of American Politics 2006. Washington: National Journal Group. ISBN 978-0-89234-111-5.
- Barone, Michael; Cohen, Richard E. (2008) (paperback). The Almanac of American Politics 2008. Washington: National Journal Group. ISBN 978-0-89234-116-0.
- Canellos, Peter S. (ed.) and The Team at The Boston Globe (2009). The Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4391-3817-5.
- Clymer, Adam (1999). Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography. New York: Wm. Morrow & Company. ISBN 978-0-688-14285-8.
- Heilemann, John; Halperin, Mark (2010). Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-173363-5.
- Hersh, Burton (1997). The Shadow President: Ted Kennedy in Opposition. South Royalton, Vermont: Steerforth Press. ISBN 978-1-883642-30-3.
- Hewitt, Hugh (2007). A Mormon in the White House?: 10 Things Every American Should Know About Mitt Romney. Washington: Regnery Publishing. ISBN 978-1-59698-502-5.
- Kranish, Michael; Helman, Scott (2012). The Real Romney. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-212327-5.
- Mahoney, Tom (1960). The Story of George Romney: Builder, Salesman, Crusader. New York: Harper & Brothers. OCLC 236830.
- Thomas, Evan (2009). "A Long Time Coming": The Inspiring, Combative 2008 Campaign and the Historic Election of Barack Obama. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-607-5.
- Foster, Craig (2008). A Different God?: Mitt Romney, the Religious Right, and the Mormon Question. Draper, Utah: Greg Kofford Books. ISBN 978-1-58958-117-3.
- Hines, Phillip (2012). Mitt Romney in His Own Words. New York: Threshold Editions. ISBN 978-1-4516-8780-4.
- Scott, Ronald B. (2011). Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics. Guilford, Connecticut: Lyons Press. ISBN 978-0-7627-7927-7.
- Turner, Lisa Ray; Field, Kimberly (2007). Mitt Romney: The Man, His Values, and His Vision. Silverton, Idaho: Mapletree Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60065-109-0.
- Biography at WhoRunsGov.com at The Washington Post
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Financial information at OpenSecrets.org
- Campaign finance reports and data at the Federal Election Commission
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Appearances on Charlie Rose
- Appearances at the Internet Movie Database
- Collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Collected news and commentary at The Wall Street Journal
- Collected news and commentary at The Guardian
- Works by or about Mitt Romney in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Biography at the National Governors Association
- Campaign contributions at FollowTheMoney.org
- Mitt Romney at the Open Directory Project