Willard Mitt Romney, usually known as Mitt (born March 12, 1947), was the 70th Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, elected in 2002. He served one term and did not seek re-election in 2006; his term ended January 4, 2007. Romney is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, having formally announced his candidacy on February 13, 2007. He made his announcement at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Romney is a former CEO of Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, and the co-founder of Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm. Prior to Bain, he worked for The Boston Consulting Group. Romney is credited with rescuing the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah from potential bankruptcy as the Salt Lake Olympic Committee's CEO and organizer. In 1994, Romney led an unsuccessful Senate campaign against incumbent Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy.
Romney was born March 12, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan. He is the son of former Michigan Governor, Housing and Urban Development Secretary, American Motors chairman, and Presidential candidate George W. Romney and unsuccessful 1970 US Senate candidate Lenore Romney, and a great great grandson of Latter-day Saint leader and apostle Parley P. Pratt. He is a half second cousin of the animator Don Bluth.
Romney married his high school sweetheart, Ann Davies in 1968. They have five sons (Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben, and Craig) and ten grandchildren. Ann Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998.
Romney has three siblings: Lynn, Jane, and G. Scott. He was named after hotel magnate J. Willard Marriott, his father's best friend, and Milton "Mitt" Romney, a relative who played football for the Chicago Bears, and from whom Mitt Romney acquired his middle name.
Romney graduated from the Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills (now Cranbrook Kingswood School). He met his future wife, Ann Davies, when she was at the Kingswood School.
After attending Stanford University for two quarters, Romney served in France for 30 months as an LDS missionary. Upon returning from France he transferred to Brigham Young University, where he was valedictorian, earning his B.A. summa cum laude in 1971. In 1975, Romney graduated from a joint JD/MBA program coordinated between Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, where he was named a Baker Scholar. He graduated cum laude from the law school and in the top 5 percent of his business school class. Romney is an Eagle Scout.
After graduating from Harvard, Romney went to work for the Boston Consulting Group, where he had interned during the summer of 1974. From 1978 to 1984, Romney was a vice president of Bain & Company, Inc., another Boston-based management consulting firm. In 1984, Romney left the company to co-found Bain Capital, which quickly became a highly successful private equity investment firm.
In 1990 Romney was asked to return to Bain & Company, which was facing financial collapse. As CEO, Romney managed an effort to restructure the firm's employee stock-ownership plan, real-estate deals and bank loans, while increasing fiscal transparency. Within a year, he had led Bain & Company through a highly successful turnaround and returned the firm to profitability without layoffs or partner defections.
Following his year at Bain & Company, Romney returned to Bain Capital. During the 14 years he headed the company, Bain Capital's average annual internal rate of return on realized investments was 113 percent. During Romney's tenure, the firm founded, acquired or invested in hundreds of companies including Staples, Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Brookstone, Domino's, Sealy Corporation and The Sports Authority. Romney left Bain Capital in 1998 to head the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee.
Romney served as president and CEO of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games held in Salt Lake City. In 1999, the event was running US$379 million short of its revenue benchmarks. Plans were being made to scale back the games in order to compensate for the fiscal crisis. The Games were also damaged by allegations of bribery involving top officials, including then Salt Lake Olympic Committee (SLOC) President and CEO Frank Joklik. Joklik and SLOC vice president Dave Johnson were forced to resign.
On February 11, 1999, Romney was hired as the new president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Romney revamped the organization's leadership and policies, reduced budgets and boosted fundraising. He also worked to ensure the safety of the Games following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by coordinating a $300 million security budget. Despite the initial fiscal shortfall, the Games ended up clearing a profit of $100 million. Following the conclusion of the Games, President George W. Bush praised Romney's management.
Romney contributed $1 million to the Olympics, and donated the $825,000 salary he earned as President and CEO to charity. He wrote a book about his experience called Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership and the Olympic Games. (ISBN 0895260840)
In 1994, Romney won the Massachusetts Republican Party's nomination for U.S. Senate after defeating businessman John Lakian in the primary. Some early polls showed Romney only slightly behind Senator Ted Kennedy. One Boston Herald/WCVB-TV poll taken after the September 20, 1994 primary showed Romney ahead 44 percent to 42 percent, within the poll's sampling margin of error. According to figures in The Almanac of American Politics 1996, which relies on official campaign finance reports, Romney spent over $7 million, with Kennedy spending over $10 million, mostly in the last weeks of the campaign. (This was the second-most expensive race of the 1994 election cycle, after the Dianne Feinstein vs. Michael Huffington Senate race in California.) Kennedy won the election with 58 percent of the vote to Romney's 41 percent. The 17-percentage point winning margin was the smallest in Kennedy's nine election contests for the Senate through 2006.
In 2002, Republican Lieutenant Governor Jane Swift was expected to campaign for the governor's office. Swift had served as acting governor after Republican Governor Paul Cellucci resigned upon being appointed U.S. Ambassador to Canada. Swift was viewed as an unpopular executive, and her 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 against a Democrat. Prominent GOP activists campaigned to persuade Romney to run for governor. One poll taken at this time showed that Republicans favored Romney over Swift by more than 50 percentage points. With growing speculation that Romney would challenge Swift in a bruising primary battle, Swift decided not to seek her party's nomination.
Massachusetts Democratic Party officials claimed that Romney was ineligible to run for governor, citing residency issues. The Massachusetts Constitution requires seven consecutive years of residency prior to a run for office. Romney claimed residency in Utah from 1999 to 2002, during his time as president of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee. In 1999 he listed himself as a part-time Massachusetts resident. The Massachusetts Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission, which eventually ruled that Romney was eligible to run for office. The ruling was not challenged in court.
During the general election Romney ran on a reform platform; a major issue in the election was the state budget crisis. Supporters of Romney hailed his business record, especially his success with the 2002 Olympics, as that of one who would be able to bring in a new era of efficiency into Massachusetts politics. Romney contributed $6.3 million to his own campaign during the election, at the time a state record. Romney was elected Governor in November 2002 with 50 percent of the vote over Democratic candidate Shannon O'Brien, who received 45 percent.
Romney was sworn in as the 70th governor of Massachusetts on January 2, 2003, along with Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey. Romney personally declined to be compensated for his services during his one term as governor. On December 14, 2005, Romney announced that he would not seek re-election for a second term as governor, fueling speculation about a run for the White House in 2008. Romney's term ended January 4, 2007. Romney filed papers to establish a formal exploratory presidential campaign committee the next to last day in office as governor.
Following in the footsteps of his father in 1968 and Orrin Hatch in 2000, Romney is one of the few Mormons who have run for president, in a race notable for the diversity of prominent contenders for the ticket. Since his appearance at the 2004 Republican National Convention, Romney had been discussed as a potential 2008 presidential candidate. On January 3, 2007, two days before he stepped down as governor of Massachusetts, Romney filed to form a presidential exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission. On February 13, 2007 Romney formally announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president in 2008. On March 3, 2007 Mitt Romney won the (CPAC) Conservative Political Action Conference Straw Poll. He received 21% of the vote. Rudy Giuliani received 17%, and Senator John McCain received 12%. 1,705 attendees voted. On April 2, 2007, Romney for President announced it had raised $23 million during the first 3 months of 2007 -- ahead of his GOP contenders, but behind Senator Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) $26 million and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) $25 million.
Romney currently espouses pro-life views, despite having said in 1994 that he supported abortion rights after a relative died from an unsafe abortion. In a March 15, 2007 interview with Larry King, Romney explained that while governor he adapted his political position on abortion when the idea of cloning human embryos for the purpose of harvesting stem cells became an issue of debate in his state. He supports the death penalty, charter schools, and sentencing under the three strikes law. He opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions, and has renounced his support for domestic partnership benefits.
* 2002 Race for Governor, Massachusetts
o Mitt Romney (R), 50%
o Shannon O'Brien (D), 45%
o Jill Stein (J), 3%
o Carla Howell (L), 1.%
o Barbara Johnson (U), 1%
* 1994 Race for U.S. Senate, Massachusetts
o Edward Kennedy (D) (incumbent), 58%
o Mitt Romney (R), 41%
o Lauraleigh Dozier (L), 0.7%
o William Ferguson, 0.2%