I Was Mitt Romney’s Boss

Mitt Romney circa 1962

I’ve been experiencing some exquisite  schadenfreude over the accusations and counteraccusations of the Republican presidential hopefuls. Lately the long knives are out  on Romney accusing him of never having worked an honest day in his life. I am here to tell you this is not true. I know because I was Mitt Romney’s boss. Don’t laugh. This is not one of those archly sardonic blog posts that my loyal followers have come to expect in “Ask the Agent”.

Before Romney was a conservative Republican presidential candidate, before he was a liberal Republican governor, before he was in charge of the Salt Lake City Olympics, before he either created or destroyed  tens of thousands of jobs at Bain Capital, Mitt worked for me.

Back in 1962 when I was 16 years old and living in Detroit, I decided to get a little practical experience in politics and went to work for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Michigan. The candidate was George Romney, who had been the president of American Motors. He actually coined the term “compact car” which he used to describe the Nash Rambler.

me circa 1962

Republicans were different back then. Some of them weren’t so bad. And Romney was better than most. He was an ardent supporter of civil rights. He had a pretty enlightened attitude toward the labor movement.  He was a problem solver, not an ideologue. He ran for president in 1968 but was defeated for the Republican nomination by Nixon. Romney made the mistake (I would say he had the honesty) of admitting that he had been brainwashed about Viet Nam. That did him in.   There were a lot of people like Romney in the Republican Party back then. They weren’t perfect by any means.  Their great flaw was that they had a certain complacency and a narrowness of outlook,  probably as a result of  spending too much time with their buddies  playing golf at the country club.  But still, they were for the most part  decent practical men. Most of them have abandoned the GOP now and left it to the lunatics.

Back to my story. I went down to Romney headquarters in an office building near the Detroit River.  I was designated the person to run the mimeograph machine (no  Xeroxes back then). It was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it. One day another 16 year old showed up and I had to train him in the art and science of mimeography. That person was the candidate’s son, Mitt Romney. Actually I was only his boss for about an hour.  After I showed him how to use the mimeograph, we worked together and continued to do so for the next few months –as equals.

I’d like to be able to tell you that the child is father to the man, that even then I was able to see the chameleonlike nature of Mitt that has become so manifest in his search for the ultimate prize. I’d like to be able to tell you that when we were in a room with one group of people, Mitt would say that mimeographs were enshrined in the Constitution by our founding fathers. But when we were with others, he would say that mimeographs were part of a sinister liberal conspiracy to turn America into a socialist hell like North Korea or France.

But that would not be true. Mitt and I  had a pretty good time that summer. We sort of yucked it up in the mimeograph room, talked about teenage stuff, went out to lunch together, that sort of thing. He was pretty down to earth for a guy who’s father was running for governor. That was admirable, although it probably speaks more to the character of  his parents than to him.

I wish that Mitt had become more like his dad, George. I think America would be a better place. And the Republican Party would certainly be a more responsible political institution. But  if he were more like George Romney, then Mitt wouldn’t  really be a viable Republican candidate for president, would he? Actually, now that I think about it, if he were more like George Romney, he’d probably be a Democrat.

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21 Responses to “I Was Mitt Romney’s Boss”

  1. Mike Roloff Says:

    Sweet story and sentiments!

  2. I Was Mitt Romney’s Boss « Brad Thinks Says:

    […] I was Mitt Romney’s Boss Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tags: Andy, Book, Boss, Mitt, President, Romney, Ross, Run, Running […]

  3. Marde Ross Says:

    Ha ha. Great story and revealing on several fronts. Tonight I heard him say that he hadn’t seen his PAC’s attack ads and then went on to describe what he had seen while “watching them”. My head is still spinning.
    BYW, Didn’t you once work for me (a stretch) when you ran that forklift into a ditch?

    • andyrossagency Says:

      Yes Marde. Thank you for reminding me and the thousands others who follow this blog about the most humiliating experience of my life. In my defence I was given the most boring job in the company, sitting around an empty warehouse. The forklift offered some entertainment, but alas I wasn’t up to the job.

  4. Yana Yakhnina Says:

    Brilliant little piece! Watching the election fuss in both parts of the globe I only wish I could read something this special here. (Not that there weren’t any pre-“election” reading in this snowy neck of the woods, though.)

  5. Andrew Says:

    Interesting and insightful reflection. Too bad Mitt only copied his dad’s progressiveness to get ahead in the race against Ted Kennedy. Looking forward to your next post!

  6. Meghan Ward (@meghancward) Says:

    Andy – I didn’t know you were from Detroit! So am I (well, a suburb, but my mother grew up in the city). And it’s funny that you said George Romney would be a Democrat today. My dad, who is a Republican, thinks the Republican Party today is like the Democratic Party was when he was a kid in the 30s.

  7. Thanks for the look! Says:

    YOU ARE HANDSOME! Ooooh! Stop teasing women with that picture you put up here from ’62.

    Handsome devil. Grrrr. Ha ha!
    P.S. Just stop it.

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