For my write-up today on The Real Romney, by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, I’ll feature three passages that I especially liked, along with brief commentary. My latest reading was about Mitt Romney’s Mormon ancestors and his experience at Stanford University, as he, a Republican and the son of a prominent Republican, had to deal with campus leftism. As intriguing as the stories about Romney’s Mormon ancestors were, the passages that I’ll feature concern Romney’s experience at Stanford.
Page 54: “Romney and [his roommate] Marquess did what Stanford freshmen do: they studied and they talked a lot about girls, although Mitt made it clear he would not date anyone besides Ann. They went to parties, where Mitt refrained from smoking or drinking…Mitt also left for long stretches to attend church functions. Over the course of the year, the roommates grew to understand each other and grew close. ‘He didn’t put on airs about anything,’ Marquess said. ‘That’s what I liked about him.'”
That’s my impression of Mitt Romney, as a distant observer: Although he and his wife are both wealthy, they don’t come across as snobs, but as likeable, down-to-earth people.
Page 58: “At a time when most Stanford guys were dating an array of girls, the depth of Romney’s devotion to his girl back home would make a lasting impression.”
The context of this is that Mitt Romney would take long trips from college to see Ann, and Mitt’s father George was concerned that this would hurt Mitt’s grades. After all, going from California to Michigan is a long trip! So George reduced Mitt’s allowance so that Mitt wouldn’t have as much money to make these trips, and Mitt outwitted his father by auctioning off his clothes to his college classmates. Mitt’s devotion to Ann made an impression on Alan Abbott, a friend of Mitt and an admirer of George Romney (who asked Alan to keep an eye on Mitt).
Page 59: “[David] Harris was against the draft, but also argued that if there was a draft it should apply to everyone, including university students. Why should the war be delegated to the poor, who couldn’t get student deferments? he asked.”
David Harris was a Stanford radical who surprised people when he won the election for student body president. I think he made a good point about the draft. Mitt’s father, from what I could see in my latest reading, was a supporter of the Vietnam War. Mitt was a Republican, but (according to the quote of Mitt on page 52) he did not want to serve in Vietnam. Mitt wasn’t a campus leftist, for he protested the campus leftists, so I don’t know what reason he gave for not wanting to serve in Vietnam. I mean, few people say that they are chicken-hawks! According to this article, Mitt and his father changed their views on the Vietnam War later on (though the article’s author does not think that Mitt became a full-fledged dove, exactly).
(UPDATE: Mitt’s protest against the campus leftists appeared to focus more on their tactics of disruption than their ideology. Moreover, Kranish and Helman say that Mitt contradicted himself on whether or not he wanted to serve in Vietnam.)