Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday reacted sharply to Montana Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s suggestion that Romney wants to avoid talking about his family history and immigration because “then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico."
In an interview with Fox News, reporter Carl Cameron asked Romney about Schweitzer’s assertion that as a candidate, he refrains from talking about his father, George Romney, being born and raised in Mexico because of the family history of polygamy. Romney replied, "My dad’s dad was not a polygamist. My dad grew up in a family with a mom and a dad, a few brothers and one sister."
“They lived in Mexico and lived a very nice life, from what I understand. And when he was 5 or 6, there was revolution in Mexico and they escaped,” Romney said, describing how the family moved from El Paso to Idaho and then California in search of a new home. “My dad had a very tough upbringing.”
Romney said he hadn’t actually read Schweitzer’s comment, but said, “I do think that the immigration policy that existed in 1905 in 1910 might not be highly relevant for the election in 2012.”
Schweitzer, in an interview with the Daily Beast, said, “I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of polygamy.” But Schweitzer went on to note that it is not in Romney’s interest to claim ties to the Hispanic community even though his father was born in Mexico because “then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico." And American women, he said, are “not great fans of polygamy.”
Romney’s father, who went on to become Michigan’s governor, was born in Mexico on a Mormon compound founded by George Romney’s grandfather, Miles Park Romney, who had four wives. But neither George Romney nor his father, Gaskell Romney, practiced polygamy, according to an account in the Boston Globe.
In response to Schweitzer’s comments, Obama reelection campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith told the Daily Beast, “Attacking a candidate's religion is out of bounds, and our campaign will not engage in it, and we don’t think others should either.”