When Mitt Romney spoke at CPAC, or on the stump recently for the Maine caucus, which he won, Mitt tries to make the case that he is a conservative, just like his father, George Romney. There is one minor flaw in this strategy, George Romney was no conservative, two flaws if you realize that neither is his son. It is not hard to see why Mitt uses negative campaigning to destroy authentic conservatives, either, since his father did so regularly. The most famous example of this was in 1964, when George Romney literally made it his mission to undermine and destroy the Barry Goldwater campaign.
If you want the whole story, then I suggest you read the two best books on the subject. Theodore H. White′s ″The Making of the President, 1964″ and the other book, F. Clifford White′s ″Suite 3505: The Story of the Draft Goldwater Movement.″ Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York State, was considered to be the front runner as he had the backing of the GOP Establishment. But pretty much from the start, they had trouble selling Rockefeller to the rank and file Republicans. Sound familiar?
The nation′s first primary in New Hampshire saw a write-in candidate, Henry Cabot Lodge, winning that state. He didn′t even want to run for the office and he wound up winning Massachusetts and New Jersey, too! Once Lodge formally withdrew himself from the race, Goldwater began winning a steady stream of delegates. With Rockefeller floundering, there were draft movements to bring other challengers into the race, like Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton and even the recently elected Governor of the State of Michigan, George Romney.
After edging out Rockefeller 51% to 49% the winner-take-all race in California, Goldwater had a huge majority of delegates, enough to easily win the nomination at the Republican convention. George Romney set about denouncing Goldwater, and even raised a stink at the convention to have Goldwater′s delegates disqualified. Romney was accusing many of Goldwater′s delegates as being everything from racists, members of the Klu-Klux-Klan, the John Birch Society and even accused some of being Communists! Imagine that!
Once Goldwater was named the presidential nominee, George Romney still worked to undermine his campaign, refusing to endorse or support him. So much for uniting the party. Things got really ugly. The anti-Goldwater rhetoric even went as far as to question his sanity. Bad enough the Democrats, the Lyndon Johnson campaign and news media were all poised to beat up on Barry Goldwater, but George Romney did all he could to smear him as well.
George Romney has had a political career that is anything but conservative. As an aide to Democrat Senator David Walsh of Massachusetts, Romney had a hand in the drafting of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, widely held as a major reason for why the Great Depression was so great and long. After a brief stinit working for Alcoa, George returned to Washington to be a lobbyist for the aluminum industry. During World War Two, Romney worked in Detroit for a number of wartime production committees and government agencies. A year after Mitt was born, 1947, George Romney returned briefly to the private sector when his friend, George Mason, appointed him as his personal assistant. Mason was president of Nash automotive which later merged with Hudson in 1954 to become American Motors Corporation. Just months later, Mason died suddenly, and George Romney became AMC′s CEO.
Romney′s major contribution to American industrial history is, of course, the Rambler. A very inexpensive and fuel efficient automobile for its day. While the rest of the industry was focused on bigger is better, George Romney went the other way. While the Rambler was a hit at first, AMC began its steady decline after 1961. Thats when George Romney decided it was time to go back to politics, this time actually running for office instead of seeking appointments. In 1962, he was elected Governor of the State of Michigan, and condemned its people to ever increasing budgets and his biggest gift to the citizens of Michigan, a state income tax.
To give George Romney his due, he was an early supporter for Civil Rights and improving the conditions for employment and housing for African-Americans. As a high-ranking member of the Mormon Church, this got Romney into some trouble with other LDS officials, since the Mormon Church had a policy against Blacks from being church lay members until 1978. George was even scolded to some degree in a rather famous letter from Delbert L. Stapley in 1964 which was made public. When racial unrest led to the Detroit Riots of 1967, Gov. Romney delayed in acting to bring federal troops in. This delay caused the riots to last longer and eventually led to undermining his own ambitions for running for president. A fact-finding trip by several governors to Vietnam in 1965 also played a role when George Romney reversed his support of the war, claiming that the generals had tried to brainwash him.
Initially, Romney led the polls of potential GOP candidates in 1968. But after the brainwashing remark became widely known, his fortunes began to plummet. A series of gaffes and other issues, such as his association with Big Unions, the handling of the Detroit riots, and even his being born in Mexico began to pile up and Romney sank steadily in the polls. Eventually, George Romney saw the handwriting on the wall and withdrew from the presidential race, clearing the way for Richard Nixon to win the nomination and the presidency. Nixon rewarded George Romney with a cabinet post, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD and been formed under the Johnson administration in 1966 and Romney was very pleased to run it for Nixon. Already committed to the cause of Civil Rights, Romney went on to use HUD to champion racial issues like housing and economic opportunities. He launched a program known as Open Communities which would relocate Blacks from the inner city to the suburbs, without Nixon′s approval. Romney′s advocacy for affirmative action rankled many within the Nixon White House. Some communities opposed Romney′s plan for new public housing projects. By 1970, Nixon wanted Romney out, but since Richard Nixon, unlike Mitt Romney, does not like firing people, George Romney stayed on until scandal broke in 1972. Now this is very important!
In 1970, George Romney launched a new program for financing federal housing projects using mortgage-backed securities. Thats right! Mortgage backed securities. You know, those lovely financial instruments that played such a major role in our current housing bubble and economic downturn. In fact, one might argue that it was George Romney who laid the groundwork for the entire Community Reinvest Act which was passed into law under Jimmy Carter just a few years later and then expanded by Bill Clinton. The scandal itself should sound familiar, too.
The Federal Housing Authority, FHA, cooperated with some large real estate firms to inflate the value of inner city homes and sold them to African-American buyers whom could not afford them using government-back mortgages, funded back those mortgage-backed securities sold through Ginnie Mae. Nixon had to shut the entire program down in 1973 When Nixon won reelection in 1972, George Romney was not asked to return to Washington. He handed in his resignation and left, continuing to support his causes elsewhere through various organizations.
So there you have it. Like father like son, George Romney is no Conservative. Neither is Mitt Romney. Oh sure, they have very wonderful resumes. But like all Progressives, they failed to remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. George Romney has played the game well, first as a Washington lobbyist, and later in a series of elected and appointed offices. That he had a role in both of the major economic downturns in the past 100 years is something that should be noted. Likewise, the fact that George Romney was actually friends with none other than radical Saul Alinsky, Father of Community Organizers.
Mitt Romney, as governor in Massachusetts, did balance the budget, by mainly through increasing fees on everything from drivers and marriage licenses to handing off the cost of state-mandated programs to local and county governments. The tax burden under Mitt Romney for the State of Massachusetts increased from 9.8% to 10.5% during his administration. He may not be accusing his current opponents of being John Birchers or Communists, but Mitt has certainly taken a page from his father George Romney in attacking the real conservatives of the Republican Party.