Six Things You Didn’t Know About Mitt Romney’s Political Candidate Mother
4:50 pm, February 24th | by Laura Donovan
Love him or hate him, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has experienced a lot of success in his life, some of which he has attributed to his mother and family unit as a whole. According to a New York Times piece on Mitt’s late mom Lenore, the old adage “like mother, like son” is very much applicable to the two.
Shedding light on Lenore’s failed Senate run in 1970, the Times paints a portrait of the bold Utah native who abandoned the Hollywood acting scene so as not to compete with her husband. We’ve already briefed you on Ann Romney, Mitt’s Pinterest-using wife, so here are some lesser-known facts about the strong-willed woman who brought him into the world:
She was in a Greta Garbo film. Before settling down with high school sweetheart George Romney, Lenore worked in Los Angeles and New York to pursue acting. Though she had roles in several productions, including a Greta Garbo movie, she turned down a $50,000 M.G.M studio contract to tie the knot with George. “In an acting career…I would have been upstaging him, and he couldn’t stand that,” she said in a biography.
Lenore spoke of being dismissed in the political world due to her gender. Upon enduring a major loss in her Senate run (67 percent to 33 percent), Lenore wrote in a Look magazine feature that she faced a lot of criticism from males for seeking office: “In factories, I encountered men in small groups, laughing, shouting, ‘Get in the kitchen. George needs you there. What do you know about politics?’”
Mitt was the first of her kids to support her political run. Mitt’s father George gathered his four kids in 1969 to discuss the possibility of Lenore running for office. As reported by the Times, their initial reaction was hardly one of confidence:
“The children laughed about it,” Elly Peterson, a Romney confidante and party strategist, later wrote in a private memoir. “Then Mitt, first, and gradually the others, began to change their minds. They finally decided she should go with it.”
Mitt got his good nature from his mother. An old classmate insists Mitt always demonstrated more of his mother’s qualities than those of his father:
“George was very unlike Mitt — he was kind of a bull in the china shop, and he would speak his mind regardless. Lenore was much more measured. Everyone is focusing on the father, but he is really much more like his mother in that he is much more private than his father was.”
Mitt used his summer break to campaign for Lenore. Many college kids study abroad, travel, or take on internships during summertime. At 23, married Mitt spent his summer vacation campaigning for his mom at fairs and college campuses.
She graduated from George Washington University in three years. Women in college were few and far between in the 20s, but Lenore finished up her English major in just three years. Her husband George, who followed her to GWU, enrolled in classes at the institution of higher education but never obtained a degree.