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George Romney

Page history last edited by Mike 9 years, 1 month ago


George W. Romney, 1907-1995


A "Wiki" Dedicated to understanding George W. Romney


George Romney's 1968 Announcement Speech


American Motors


George Romney, whose leadership saved AMC from the brink of collapse in the late 50's, died on July 26, 1995. It was Romney who made the difficult decision in 1957 to drop the Nash and Hudson brands -- two of the oldest marques in the business, and the company's legacy -- to concentrate exclusively on the compact Rambler line. It turned out to be a brilliant stroke: AMC's sales quadrupled in two years, and Rambler passed Plymouth to become the third best-selling make in the U.S. Some AMC historians believe that if the company had not abandoned Romney's strategy of concentrating on a single compact platform (an approach that worked spectacularly for Volkswagen in the 60's) it might still be around today.


The Detroit News published several stories on Romney upon his death, including:


  • Romney remembered as great man, political hero (August 1, 1995)
  • Romney was Iacocca of his day (July 28, 1995)
  • Former Gov. George Romney dead at 88 (July 27, 1995)


The following article appeared in the Washington Post on July 27, 1995.



George W. Romney Dies at Age 88;

Michigan Governor, HUD Secretary

By Bart Barnes

Washington Post Staff Writer

George W. Romney, 88, a former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, governor of Michigan, chairman of American Motors Corp. and a contender for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination, died July 26 at his home in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He collapsed after suffering a heart attack while exercising on a treadmill.


Mr. Romney was among the luminaries of the national Republican Party after his 1966 election to a third consecutive term as governor of Michigan with a 570,000-vote plurality. But he abandoned his bid for the party's presidential nomination two weeks before the 1968 New Hampshire primary. That was after a three-month campaign that was dogged by his nationally televised comment attributing his initial support for the Vietnam War to his being "brainwashed" by the U.S. military during a tour of the Southeast Asian country. He would later call U.S. participation in the war "the most tragic foreign policy mistake in the nation's history."


In a 1989 interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Romney insisted his comments about having been brainwashed had nothing to do with his withdrawal from the presidential race. "It was because Nelson Rockefeller became a candidate, and there was no way I could get the nomination fighting both Rockefeller and Richard Nixon," he said.


From 1969 until 1973, Mr. Romney served as HUD secretary. But he left Nixon's Cabinet less than enthusiastic about his federal service, declaring that he looked forward "with great enthusiasm" to his return to private life. Administration support for urban programs had been less than what he had hoped for, he said.


In 1974, he became the founding chairman of the Arlington-based National Volunteer Center, an organization that promotes volunteerism. In 1991, the center merged with the Points of Light Foundation, which was supported by President George Bush.


A lifelong member and former bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mr. Romney spent two years as a Mormon missionary in England and Scotland during the 1920s. Friends said there was an evangelical strain about many of his undertakings later in life as well.


As chairman and president of American Motors from 1954 until 1962, Mr. Romney played a key role in bringing the compact economy car to the U.S. public. He oversaw marketing for the Rambler, which he promoted with a missionary enthusiasm. Lambasting the large chromium-laden cars produced by Ford, Chrysler and General Motors then, he declared: "Who wants to have a gas-guzzling dinosaur in his garage? . . . Think of the gas bills!"


Trapped once in a St. Louis traffic jam, he lectured a taxi driver that the mess never would have happened if everyone drove smaller cars. "Next time, try a Rambler," he advised as he left the cab.


He resigned from American Motors to run for governor of Michigan and defeated incumbent John B. Swainson in 1962, breaking a 14-year Democratic hold on the state's governorship. During his six years as governor, a new Michigan Constitution took effect, civil rights and tax reform measures were undertaken and the state economy improved.


As a politician, Mr. Romney had many of the standard attributes: a quick smile, ready handshake and a smooth delivery of speeches. But he also was blunt, unequivocal and often impatient, and he sometimes stepped on toes.


As governor, he had office hours on Thursday mornings when Michigan residents could stop by and talk with him for five minutes each. He made a point of shaking hands with schoolchildren who toured the state capitol.


In his personal life, he neither smoke nor drank alcohol, and he tithed regularly, giving 10 percent of his income to the Mormon Church. A physical fitness buff all his life, he exercised regularly, often playing golf early in the morning before work. In his later years, he devised what he called a "compact 18" holes, in which he played three balls on each of six holes.


Mr. Romney was born in a Mormon community in Chihuahua, Mexico, and he grew up in Idaho and Utah. He attended Latter-day Saints Junior College in Salt Lake City, the University of Utah and George Washington University. While at GWU, he worked in the office of Sen. David I. Walsh (D-Mass.).


During the 1930s, he worked for Aluminum Co. of America as a salesman in Los Angeles and later as Alcoa's representative in Washington. During that time, he served two years as president of the Washington Trade Association Executives. Later, he was manager of the Detroit office of the Automobile Manufacturers Asssociation. During World War Il, he was managing director of the Automotive Council for War Production and general manager of the Automobile Manufacturers Assiation.


He joined Nash-Kelvinator Corp. as assistant to the president in 1948, becoming executive vice president in 1953. In 1954, Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Motor Car Co. merged to form American Motors; Mr. Romney became its president and chairmam During the next four years at the company's helm, he took the business from a money-losing operation into prosperity. In the process, he became a wealthy man himself.


In that period, Mr. Romney also was chairman of a citizens committee that studied the needs of Detroit's public schools. He led a citizens effort to call a state constitutional convention and subsequently served as a delegate to the convention. In 1931, Mr. Romney married Lenore LaFount, his high school sweetheart.


In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Lynn Keenan and Jane Romney; two sons, G. Scott Romney and Mitt Romney, a Massachusetts businessman who waged a tough but unsuccessful campaign to unseat Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) last fall; 23 grandchildren; and 33 great-grandchildren.




Romney, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was born in a church colony in Chihuahua, Mexico. His family was forced to flee to the United States in 1912 because of the Mexican Revolution, lived for a time in Oakley, Idaho and finally ending up in Salt Lake City, Utah.


In 1926, Romney spent two years as a Mormon missionary in England and Scotland. During his time in England, he preached in such places as Hyde Park and Tower Hill, and developed a plan with a socialist to help create crowds by heckling the other's speeches, thereby creating a stir.


Romney took coursework at the University of Utah and George Washington University, but never completed work on a college degree.


In the late 1920s, Romney followed his high school sweetheart, Lenore LaFount, to Washington, DC after her father had accepted a government position. Romney became a speechwriter for Massachusetts Democratic senator David I. Walsh, then moved on to become a lobbyist for Alcoa in 1930. When LaFount, an aspiring actress, began earning bit roles in Hollywood movies, Romney was able to be transferred out West to continue the relationship. When LaFount had the opportunity to sign a three-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, Romney convinced her to return to Washington, and married her on July 2, 1931.



Automobile industry


After nine years with Alcoa, Romney's career had stagnated, so he moved to Detroit with his wife and their two daughters to become the local manager of the Automobile Manufacturers Association. During World War II, Romney headed the Automotive Council for War Production, which worked to optimize automotive companies' war production.


After the war, Romney worked as an executive for the manufacturing firm Nash-Kelvinator Corporation under company head George Mason, and played a key role in the development of the Rambler. When that firm merged on May 1, 1954 with Hudson Motor Car to become the American Motors Corporation, Romney became the chairman of the combined company.


Working with Mason and chief engineer Meade Moore, Romney first helped phase out the company's famous Nash and Hudson automobiles. Romney then insisted that the company attempt a then-untried strategy of focusing on making compact cars, an approach that led to unexpected financial success for AMC. At the time of the decision, the company had been on the verge of being taken over by corporate raider Louis Wolfson, but the company's resurgence made Romney a household name, and he capitalized on it by entering politics.





He led the Constitutional Convention that revised Michigan's Constitution from 1961 to 1962 and followed this up with a successful 1962 campaign for Governor of Michigan. Romney was a strong supporter of civil rights and was generally considered a moderate Republican, perhaps a bit to the right of Nelson Rockefeller, but well to the left of Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan.


After toying with the idea of running for President in 1964, Romney decided to run in the 1968 election. However, in September 1967, he committed a gaffe during an interview with Detroit broadcaster Lou Gordon when he stated that he had gotten the "greatest brainwashing" after meeting with generals discussing the Vietnam War in 1965. The comment would severely damage his campaign. Romney finished with 50 votes on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention (44 of MIchigan's 48 plus 6 of heavily Mormon Utah's 8), finishing fifth behind Richard Nixon of California (692 out of 1,333), Nelson Rockefeller of New York (277), Ronald Reagan of California (182) and James Rhodes of Ohio (55).


Following Nixon's election, Romney was named as Housing and Urban Development secretary. He served in that office until the start of Nixon's second term in January 1973. During his four years, Romney slightly increased the amount of federally subsidized housing, but was prevented from expanding the concept to suburban areas.





For much of the next two decades, he was out of the public eye, but re-emerged in 1994 when he helped campaign for his son, Mitt Romney, during the younger Romney's unsuccessful bid to unseat Senator Edward M. Kennedy in Massachusetts.


That same year, Romney's ex-daughter-in-law, Ronna Romney, decided to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate from Michigan while continuing to use her married name. (She was formerly married to the governor's other son, Scott Romney.) The former governor showed his displeasure by endorsing her opponent, Spencer Abraham, who went on to win the primary and the general election.


The following year, Romney died of a heart attack at the age of 88, while exercising on his treadmill in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.


In 2002, Mitt Romney was elected to the office of Governor of Massachusetts (Republican).




  • D. Duane Angel, Romney: A Political Biography (1967)
  • Hess, Stephen and David S. Broder. The Republican Establishment: The Present and Future of the G.O.P. New York : Harper & Row, 1967.
  • T. George Harris, Romney's Way: A Man and an Idea (1967)
  • Andrew L. Johns; "Achilles' Heel: The Vietnam War and George Romney's Bid for the Presidency, 1967 to 1968" Michigan Historical Review, Vol. 26, 2000 pp 1+
  • Clark R. Mollenhoff, George Romney: Mormon in Politics (1968)




George Romney for President 1968 Campaign Brochure


‘Profile: George Romney’




This is George Romney, Republican


Cleaned up a money mess.


Governor George Romney brought Michigan back from financial ruin. The state was over $100 million in the red; state employees were experiencing "payless paydays." George Romney cleaned up this Democratic mess. He applied business efficiency to state agencies. He reversed the business and industrial exodus from Michigan. He restored his state's reputation for fiscal responsibility. George Romney put Michigan in the black and expanded state services without raising taxes. Today, he's continuing his fight for tax reform and financial integrity in his state and nation.


Faith in America's youth.


Understanding the "Youth Revolution" in this country, George Romney offers ideas and programs for the meaningful involvement of young people in our society. Under his leadership, educational opportunities have increased, including a new state scholarship program now assisting over 15,000 college students. Local schools and colleges are receiving unprecedented support in terms of state finances. Junior colleges and job training have been emphasized. George Romney has sponsored youth programs in the Republican Party and has proven his appeal to younger voters calling for a New Generation of Progress.


Active role in international affairs.


As far back as 20 years ago, George Romney was leading U.S. delegations to UN-sponsored, international labor-management conferences. At Senator Arthur Vandenberg's request, he followed John Foster Dulles as lead-off witness in testifying before Congress for the Marshall Plan. From 1954 to 1961 George Romney led and revitalized American Motors Corporation an international company. Having lived abroad as a youth, he has since travelled extensively in Europe, Latin America and Asia as both a businessman and public official. During a 1965 trade mission to Europe, he proposed a radical revision in American foreign aid programs by "a grand alliance for progress sharing." He has also, urged more economic development aid "in the form of private investment, rather than governmental handouts." Today George Romney warns against mushrooming international commitments and the failure of America's leaders to be "frank, open and straightforward with the people."


Citizens who want good government have to work for it.


"Sure we need professionals. Sure we need welfare programs. Sure government has an important role. But there is no substitute for one human being who cares enough about another human being to go out and help him." George Romney put this belief into action in Michigan. He led the successful citizen drive that got a new constitution for Michigan. As Governor, he holds Thursday morning sessions with individuals. He has set up the state Human Resources Council to stimulate thousands of volunteers to help their fellow citizens. (A major success of this plan is the 7500-member college student volunteer movement now helping underprivileged children). George Romney believes our greatest problem is the breakdown of personal, family and private institutional responsibility. He believes that much more can be done to solve this problem through increased voluntary action.


Dynamic equal opportunities record.


George Romney has always believed in equal rights for all citizens, and his record of action is unchallenged. No one has demonstrated more conclusively his refusal to compromise on this basic American principle. In 1962 he helped write the provision for the country's only constitutionally established state Civil Rights Commission. As Governor, George Romney fought for and obtained appropriations to make the new Commission more effective. Under his leadership, Michigan is a leader in providing equal opportunities to all, in employment housing, education and public accommodations.


Proven administrator.


George Romney is one of the few men in public life today who is a proven and successful administrator. He has headed a voluntary association; a major corporation; a political party; citizens groups; and a state. He has taken the leadership in providing the reforms to strengthen state and local governments-through-adoption-of a new state constitution. As Governor, he streamlined the entire executive branch from 140 agencies to 19 departments. He has applied efficiency, economy, and modern administrative techniques in providing services for the people of Michigan. Here is one man who knows how to get results in the American system.


Built a strong Republican Party.


The Republican Party in Michigan was a shrinking minority when George Romney first ran for office. By appealing to the broad base of Michigan voters he piled up increasing margins in 3 victorious elections. This popularity spread to other Republican candidates. In 1966, George Romney led the GOP to a near sweep of state and national offices. This included the election of Michigan's first Republican United; States Senator in 14 years. As George Romney says about the future of the Republican Party in Michigan, "We are making inroads everywhere."


Governor George Romney is a man of action.


George Romney took over American Motors on the verge of bankruptcy and made it a strong competitor again. At the same time, he was working to pull the Detroit school system out of a financial mess. Believing in local control of education, Romney helped put across a $60 million bond issue, and a $30 million tax package, which enabled Detroit schools to keep pace with community needs. During World War II he headed the Automotive Council for War Production: the greatest industrial, cooperative wartime effort in history. In 1959 George Romney took the lead in organizing citizen support for a badly needed new state constitution. As Governor, George Romney applied sound management to state spending. He not only increased state services, he cleaned up the financial mess that had made Michigan the laughing stock of the nation. Governor Romney was fighting for laws to halt air and water pollution before they ever became national issues; he also helped pass legislation giving industries tax credits for investing in pollution control equipment. Michigan is now ahead in the fight to end the pollution blight. George Romney bought state aid to cities to the highest level in Michigan history. He also helped create the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. "I am against discrimination of any kind," Romney has repeatedly said, "and my record proves it." The National Governors Conference has recognized Romney's leadership abilities by appointing him to study its most pressing problem: getting fair share of federal tax dollars. George Romney also represents Republican Governors on the National Republican Coordinating Committee. George Romney and his wife Lenore have worked hard for their state for 28 years. Their commitment to putting an end to "ineffectual and selfish politics" has been heartily applauded by the voters. One practical effect of their dedication has been a resurgence of the Republican Party in Michigan. The Romney's have been married since 1931. They have two sons, two daughters, and nine grandchildren.





Governor George Romney of Michigan

Veteran’s Memorial Building – Detroit

November 18, 1967 11 a.m. EST


My wife Lenore is my greatest earthly inspiration. She excels in eloquence, the poetry of words, empathy, and graciousness.



I have given my life to the poetry of decisions and work.


One was aspires to the Presidency should be confident he can be useful and capable of providing the needed leadership.


I decided to fight for and win the Republican nomination and election as President of the United States. I have made my decision with a great earnestness.


I am concerned about America.


The size and complexity of our national problems have bred a widespread sense of personal futility.


We have begun to see acceptance of irresponsibility as a way of life. There is growing aimlessness and flabbiness in our American society.


The evidence is everywhere.


Too frequently family responsibilities are pre-empted by government and weakened by obsolete welfare policies that cripple each new generation of the poor.


The crime rate mounts and over half the major crimes are committed by teenagers. To avoid a society that seems to offer no cause worth serving, too many turn to drugs or alcoholism or other means of “escape.”


Too often, young people bursting with idealism, either find themselves playing a game for which they have little heart or hurling themselves into wasteful protest against the so-called “establishment.”


Men and women in the slums, bitter over unfulfilled promises, listen to revolutionaries who would plunge us into civil guerilla warfare. We are becoming “a house divided.”


In this apathetic period, work is now seldom looked on as joy, and excellence of product or service is now seldom an objective.


Our magnificent economy, which offers an impoverished and hungry world the only model that can head off greater deprivation and unprecedented famine, is being systematically jammed by inflation.


The richest nation in the world is in a fiscal mess.


As we have drifted away from principle at home, we have undermined the foundation of our position in the world. Once a beacon of hope for people everywhere, America is now widely regarded as belligerent and domineering.


We are mired in an Asian land war which sacrifices are young men and drains our resources, with no end in sight. Time and again we have been taken toward the mountaintop of hope only to fall back into the crevices of sickening reality. False optimism and lack of candor on the part of our leaders have confused our citizens and sapped their resolve.


Our foreign policy has no clear positive purpose. NATO and the United Nations are in disarray, subversion threatens Latin America, and the have-not nations are losing ground.


But, I’m confident that the American people can reverse this trend. We have the creative energy and the basic principles to build a new America.


The process begins at home.


Our country’s unique political institutions have released and stimulated the best in more people than any other nation in history. We won’t again fulfill our destiny until we can trust the individual and what he can and should do, and the spirit God shared with men.


We must recognize that the root source of America’s strength is the divinely endowed freedom of its people;


That personal responsibility and family responsibilities are essential in a free society;


That is through voluntary cooperation of responsible individuals that Americans have made life more agreeable and rewarding.


In all our communities we must–as I find poor people beginning to do in the ghettos–design a new fabric of voluntary independent agencies through which people help each other.


We must practice are fundamental principles of mutual self-respect and brotherhood with every citizen enjoying full and equal citizenship.


We must restore respect for law and its enforcement. In order of priority, it is more important to make our streets safe than to put a man on the moon.


We must restore the competitive principle, under which labor and business cooperate to serve the consumer first.


Workers must personally participate in progress to enjoy their work and take pride its product.


We must make private contribution, not concentrated power, the yardstick of reward.


We must reestablish control over Federal spending and end perpetual deficits.


In the 50 states of our union, we must again claim not state rights but state responsibilities.


We can, we must, solve the problems on which the Federal bureaucracy has so obviously failed. Our national government must lead in identifying national problems, establishing priorities, and encouraging maximum state, local, and private effort in their solution. To succeed we must decentralize problem-solving responsibility and action.


If we do those things at home, we will have taken the first giant step for re-establishing the influence of the United States in the World.


To apply these principles, to achieve these goals, to build a new America, we must have a Republican President.


The Republican Party has the faith in the individual, and voluntary cooperation, private competitive enterprise, free collective bargaining, and state and local government needed to apply these principles at home. A Republican President can work for a just peace in Vietnam unshackled by mistakes of the past. A Republican President can restore truth to government and regain the confidence of the people.


We need leadership that can elevate religion and morality to their position of paramount importance and thus eliminating growing selfishness, and immorality, and materialism. We must end the spirit of “anything goes,” and restore the importance and quality of our personal lives.


The present President, who is experienced only in the tools of government, will continue, no matter what his intentions, to build greater and greater governmental control over our lives.


To decentralize our attack on problem-solving and to energize the great talents and character of the American people will require broader experience. I have had such experience. I worked in the fields, in construction, in independent and voluntary national and local agencies during war and peace, in international trade and labor conferences, in two of the nation’s largest corporations operating in three major industries, and in state and federal governments.


A New American requires leadership which, by word and deed, merits the confidence of the people and is worthy of God’s blessing.


Because I believe that, working together, we can build a New America, I will work toward this goal with all my heart, mind, and new spirit. I pledge energy and honesty to the task.


Questions for Governor Mitt Romney


George Romney


  1. Why did your father not give you any of his inheritance?
  2. Did he have a philosophy that he didn’t want to pass on a lot of money to his kids.
  3. When you father thought of running for president in ’64, and then actually ran for a while in ’68, how old were you in those years and what did you experience during that time?
  4. You can’t be born out of the country and run for president, how did that work?
  5. And when did he move to Utah?
  6. At some point I noticed you were on the Points of Light Foundation board, but you go back to either your father starting the volunteer organization that merged into Points of Light? Explain that.


Exterior Links

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Romney
  2. http://www.amazon.com/George-Romney-Mormon-politics-Mollenhoff/dp/B0006BUYSQ/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-7755779-2430467?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1179194618&sr=8-1
  3. http://www.boston.com/news/special/audio_slideshows/romney_father/soundslide/




More than 100 angry white protesters balked at efforts by then-Housing Secretary George Romney, in car, to open their new neighborhoods to blacks.



George Romney Speech



Biographical parallels between George and Mitt Romney include: Both served as Mormon missionaries in Europe and considered the experiences formative. Both pursued high school sweethearts singlemindedly until the women agreed to marry them several years later, then had families with four or five children. Both had very successful careers in business and became known for turning around failing companies or organizations. Both presided over a stake in the LDS Church. Both achieved their first elected position at age 55, as Republican governor of a Democratic-leaning state. The two bear a close physical resemblance at similar ages and both have been said to "look like a president". Both staged their first presidential run in the year they turned 60. Both were considered suspect by ideological conservatives within the Republican Party.[219][4] There are also obvious differences in their paths, including that George had a hardscrabble upbringing while Mitt's was affluent, and Mitt far exceeded George's accomplishments in formal education. 







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