Mitt Romney seems to feel that his biography needs refining. He was just a middle-class kid growing up, he says.
On the campaign trail, the former Massachusetts governor sometimes talks about his father, George, growing up poor and driving across the American West looking for work. When Mitt was born, the family was middle class, moving from Detroit to the tony suburb of Bloomfield Hills only after Mitt was a teenager, when his father took over American Motors. Although Mitt’s parents helped fund his college and graduate education, and helped him and his wife, Anne, buy their first home, he did not inherit his parents’ wealth; he amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune on his own, working at Bain Capital.
Well, no, not exactly. As Alec MacGillis points out at The New Republic:
Actually, this is off on just about every count, according to Michael Kranish and Scott Helman’s Real Romney, the definitive biography of the candidate. The family was hardly “middle class” at the time of Mitt’s birth — shortly after he was born, his father George became an executive with the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation, which later merged with Hudson Motor Car Company to become American Motors Corporation, where Romney was soon named executive vice president. He became CEO of AMC in 1954 — when Mitt was 6 or 7. Likewise, the Romneys moved from their (very big) Detroit home to Bloomfield Hills, “a domain of sprawling homes, emerald lawns, and elite private schools,” when he was six or seven, not “after Mitt was a teenager.” And this account also understates the support Mitt received as a young man. George Romney not only “helped fund his college education,” he provided his son an allowance when he was at Stanford, though he considered cutting it back after he found out that Mitt was secretly taking flights back to Michigan to visit his sweetheart Ann. After the couple married, Mitt’s parents bought them a car as a wedding gift. When they moved from Utah to Boston for Mitt to commence law and business school at Harvard, Mitt’s parents helped them buy a house in Belmont, a “leafy Boston suburb” — not a shabby start for a 24-year-old graduate student. Here’s how Ann Romney recently cast the couple’s situation in those starting-out years: “We had no income except the stock we were chipping away at. We were living on the edge, not entertaining.” Ah yes, the common twenty-something plight of chipping stock.
Romney is obviously trying to obfuscate his membership in the 1% of Americans who own and increasingly run the country; the question is whether the Obama campaign and the press will let him get away with it.