At 19 Mitt Romney Demonstrated for the Draft
Daily Mail – by Graham Smith They say every picture tells a story.
A newly-unearthed photograph showing Mitt Romney demonstrating in favour of the Vietnam War draft might leave the presidential candidate feeling somewhat embarrassed.
The veteran Republican, then 19, can be seen picketing an anti-war sit-in at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, in 1966.
Mr Romney will no doubt be proud of his younger self taking what was at the time a very unpopular stance.
Taken at the height of the swinging Sixties, Mr Romney holds a sign declaring ‘Speak Out, Don’t Sit In’ as, alongside like-minded individuals, he proclaims his support for Lyndon Johnson’s ever-expanding draft.
But, in a marked contrast to the relaxed dress sense associated with that decade’s youth movement, he is wearing smart white slacks, a white buttoned-up shirt and a dark blazer.
A newspaper clipping headlined ‘Governor’s son pickets the pickets’ states: ‘Mitt Romney, son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, was one of the pickets who supported the Stanford University administration in opposition to sit-in demonstrators.’
The photograph was taken on May 20, 1966, shortly after a group of students had taken over the office of Stanford University President Wallace Sterling.
They were protesting at the introduction of a test designed to help the authorities decide who was eligible for the draft.
Mr Romney was one of approximately 150 conservative students who counter-picketed the sit-in.
Carey Coulter was one of the demonstrators alongside Mr Romney that day. He told BuzzFeed.com: ’We were there to get an education and these people holding the administration hostage was antithetical to that.
‘Mitt walked up to me and said that he had some experience with the press, and that he would handle the press for me if I wanted him to. I said fine, because I was busy running the demonstration.
‘I don’t recall ever seeing him again.’
The press experience to which Mr Romney referred no doubt came from witnessing how his father, George, dealt with the media.
George Romney headed American Motors before becoming Michigan governor in 1963, a position he held for six years before being appointed Secretary of Housing and Urban Development by Richard Nixon.
Ironically, he later had a change of heart and turned against the Vietnam War.
His pro-war son, meanwhile, never served in south-east Asia because his status as a Mormon missionary exempted him from the draft.
The GOP hopeful spent just one year at Stanford before heading to France for 30 months of missionary work.
He had already met his future wife Ann in 1965 when he was 18 and she was 15. The couple married in 1969 and have five sons and 16 grandchildren.
Mr Romney went on to earn millions as a business consultant and venture capitalist.
After co-founding private equity firm Bain Capital in the late 1970s, he helped launch the Staples office supply chain, as well as buy Domino’s Pizza.
His public career began in 1999, when he was recruited to take over the 2002 Winter Olympics after scandal and financial deficits threatened the Salt Lake City games.
In 2003, he took over as governor of Massachusetts after a campaign in which he cast himself as a moderate on abortion, gay rights and stem cell research. He had sounded many of the same themes during an unsuccessful 1994 U.S. Senate race against Democrat Edward M Kennedy.
He chose not to seek a second term and instead turned his sights to the White House.
He lost the 2008 GOP nomination to John McCain and has been plotting his latest presidential nomination ever since.
But a record of changing positions on social issues including abortion and gay rights has left many conservatives questioning his sincerity.
Mr Romney oversaw a health care law enacted in Massachusetts that is similar to Barack Obama’s national health overhaul, which conservatives despise.
He has also struggled to allay some sceptics of his Mormon faith.
His extreme wealth – the Romneys are believed to be worth between $190million and $264million – allowed him to invest more than $40million of his own money in the 2008 race.
It recently emerged that Mr Romney has plans to quadruple the size of his $12 million California home.
The 64-year-old filed an application in San Diego, California, to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot oceanfront mansion in La Jolla and replace it with an 11,062-square-foot property.
A campaign official said that the GOP hopeful was planning the expansion as the home he bought three years ago ‘is inadequate for their needs’.
The Romneys’ official primary residence is a town house outside Boston. They also own a $10million vacation home on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.
The couple sold the 6,400-square-foot home in Belmont, Massachusetts, where they raised their children, in 2009 for $3.5million.
In addition, their 9,500-square-foot ski lodge in Deer Valley, Utah, fetched $5.25million last year.