The Hard Luck Life of Willard Mitt Romney

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 28 2012 9:10 AM

The Hard Luck Life of Willard Mitt Romney

ORLANDO, Fla. --  It was a quick, tested line in Thursday night's presidential debate, a way for Mitt Romney to shame Newt Gingrich out of his claim that Romney was "the most anti-immigrant" candidate running.

"I'm not anti-immigrant," said Romney. "My father was born in Mexico. My wife's father was born in Wales."

Advertisement

True: George Romney was born Mexico, in a Mormon colony in the state of Chihuahua. His mother and father were anglos from Utah. But the time George's son Mitt was born, in 1947, George was a successful automotive industry spokesman; by the time Mitt graduated from college, George was a former American Motors Executive working for the Nixon administration. The Mexico genesis was sort of a fluke.

It's still awfully resonant. After Romney spoke here, I met Bill Wilton, 64, an exterminator and Vietnam veteran who was squarely for Romney. One reason: "He came up from nothing. His father immigrated here from Mexico."

That's not what Romney was saying. But it's not a problem if people believe it...

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.