In the years between the quadrennial spasms of Madness, known as presidential election years, many among
us spend their time scanning the political skies for candidates of the first magnitude. These watchers frequently
confuse meteors with fixed stars, which is why every
presidential campaign is studded with figures who are
regarded as formidable contenders for the nomination for a time and then fade into oblivion.
Every presidential campaign is fateful, because it promises to affect the future for not only four or even eight
years, but possibly twenty or more, as did the election
of Franklin D. Roosevelt. This gay reformer not only
reversed his party's traditional devotion to the philosophy
of limited government as expounded by its founding father,
Thomas Jefferson, but also persuaded his Republican opposition that it had to spend and spend and tax and tax
to elect and elect, so that many Americans are deeply
disturbed that they can find little or no difference between
the two parties and that they exercise almost no choice in
fashioning the American way in casting their ballots for
a president.
In 1948 the Republican party stood at the crossroads
when the choice lay between a dedicated Republican, the
late Senator Robert A. Taft, and the convinced compromiser, former Gov. Thomas E. Dewey. The party got a
second chance in 1952, but again by-passed the man of
conviction and purpose, that time for a man. on horseback,
who knew nothing of politics but was believed to be more acceptable to the various power blocs politicians have
created for playing their games of candidate selection and
issue picking, such as the liberal bloc, the ethnic groups,
the labor bloc, the independents and the rest.
The creation of such shibboleths has enabled some members of such groups to exert power they do not possess.
These blocs are reputed to have great influence, so politicians bow to their pressures (real or fancied) although
exacting analysis of returns shows that the blocs have been
fragmenting their votes or, at least, not voting in the patterns the no-choice politicians would have us believe.
The great tragedy of this century in American politics
is not the power blocs themselves so much as the belief
of politicians in power blocs, so that they trim their allegiance and principles to feared or fancied pressures. Over
the years candidates have appeared on the scene posing as
knights in shining armor, prepared to do battle for independent thought and noble purpose.
Such a one is George Wilcken Romney, who entered
politics from industry with seeming reluctance in 1959.
Almost before he announced his candidacy for governor,
the political watchers were hailing him as a presidential
star. Appearances were in his favor. He seemed to be a
likeable and trustworthy giant, although only of average
stature, which often shrinks upon intimacy. (Some say
that you have to know Romney to be disillusioned, while
others say that way down deep he is shallow.)
Romney launched a political career on shoals of evasion
which he tried to represent as rocks of Gibraltar. He dodged
questions on national policy or refused outright to comment on them. This disturbed his admirers, but they then
became dismayed when he began to answer the questions.
He seemed to change his opinion of Viet Nam from day
to day or even hour from hour and then confessed he hadn't
made up his own mind but had been brainwashed by the
Johnson administration. His pronouncements on civil rights
were no less evasive and confusing. Ae prefers to blame
any opposition to staking a position. He has, for example,
attacked federal spending, as an unholy evil, but has increased spending in Michigan by more than 20 per cent a
At the outset of the presidential year, Romney was a
leading contender if not the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination, despite his record of non-
support of the Goldwater-Miller ticket in 1964 and his
vacillations and contradictions. In his quest, Romney
allied himself with eastern interests, financial and political,
far from his western roots and his midwestem grass roots.
The eastern kingmakers had lost control of the party to
Goldwater in 1964 and paid him dearly for his brief convention triumph. Romney became their choice, although
there was and is strong suspicion that they adopted him
merely as a stalking horse for their knight of fear and
reproach, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York.
The Romney Riddle is a book which gets behind the
image and reveals the man. It makes it clear there is no
doubt that Romney is a master publicist. His success at
American Motors is said to be largely a matter of luck
and capitalization on other men's ideas. At the same time
the book places the blame for the current dark picture of
the Ramblers squarely on Romney's shoulders.
Romney is portrayed as a man of dedication and temper.
He believes in his own myth and rides roughshod, when
he can, over any and all in his way, as was evidenced by
his characterization of Sen. Charles Percy (R., 111.) as a
"political opportunist," merely because he was being mentioned for the White House which Romney regards as his
very own. There is detailed exploration of Romney's record,
his views or lack of views, his political ruthlessness against
members of his own party who dared oppose him in his
state, and his love affair with the eastern kingmakers.
The revelation of a Romney as a politician rather than
a man explains why the Detroit News, which was the first
to hail him as presidential material, has now called on him to get out of the race. The Romney Riddle is something
more than a campaign tract because its author, Gerald 0.
Plas, is intimately familiar with Michigan politics and with
its governor. He entered politics in boyhood as a page in
the Michigan state senate, was captain of pages in Michigan's constitutional convention where Romney was a delegate, and has worked in many Michigan campaigns where
he had the opportunity of observing Romney's tactics. He
has served as Congressional Relations Director for the
College Young Republicans and has been a national director of Young Americans for Freedom, a group promoting
conservative thinking.
His book is strong meat, but if you cen't digest it, don't
sit down at the political table—unless you bring a long
spoon as behooves one who would sit down with the
me-tooers and so-called liberals.
Walter Trohan,
Washington, D. C.
September, 1967
Chapter One
Television lights flare if the great hall. Into the dazzling
radiance steps a profoundly distinguished-looking man,
graying at the temples and carrying himself in a manner
suggestive of supreme confidence in the adulation of the
cheering mob before him. He removes his coat and rolls
up the sleeves of his shirt. Through squinted eyes he gazes
at the expectant throng. His brow furrows, his neck muscles
tighten and his face grows red. In an instant he raises his
arm over his head and brings down his fist in a resounding
blow to the podium. Then his words, "purveyors of hate,"
erupt and reverberate across the convention hall.
George Ronmey speaks.
College dropout, lobbyist, for the aluminum monopoly, hero of American Motors, Governor of the state of Michigan and the man who most dearly desires to become President of the United States, this is the story of George
Wilcken Ronmey.
Governor Romney is a "winner" by any criterion in that
pseudo sociology which divides the world into winners
and losers. After making himself one of the most well-
known industrialists in the world, he entered politics and
turned himself into one of the most colorful and well-known politicians in the country.
He is a beautiful man, photogenic from any angle, with
a jutting, confident jaw and temples grayed the way few
men's temples gray outside the hair styling studios of
Hollywood. "There are times when Romney seems almost
too good to be true," says Stewart Alsop. Democratic
critics at Michigan's 1961 constitutional convention tagged
Romney, "Gorgeous George."
With all these assets—and this is only the beginning of the list--how can such a man lose; how could anyone desire to see Romney get anything less than his heart
He glitters as few men glitter, and it can't be denied
that some of that glitter is pure gold. Closer examination,
however, quickly reveals that there is more than a little
clay in his makeup.
"My natural tendency is toward intensity. If I get into
a discussion, I get into an intense discussion," says Mr.
Intense he does become, and this intensity can be physically painful to those who enter a discussion with him.
When he feels particularly intense about a point he may
emphasise it by a thump with his fist on the tables, podiums
and other nearby objects, or a finger jab in the chest. The
Governor made one young Republican's ear sore for a
week when he applied a headlock to the man to make an
intense point. He allegedly tore the lapels on a Michigan
state senator's suit as he shook the legislator in another bout
of intensity.8
This "out of control railroad train" intensity is not only
dangerous to those around hi-m, but often causes harm to
the Governor himself. On one occasion he got into an
intense discussion with Richard Durant, Republican Chairman of Michigan's 14th Congressional district. Romney
became extremely heated and he felt the only way to end
the argument was with a dramatic exit. Spinning around
he headed for the door, yanked it open and slammed it
behind him, only to find himself fumbling around in a
darkened clothes closet. Sheepishly hs reentered the room
and hurried to the right door, his face glowing crimson.4
"Beside him Khrushchev's shoe pounding looks like sophisticated diplomacy," observed one young Republican.6
George Romney is a religious man, an intensely religious
man. Everyone knows this because he has made elaborate
show of his religion on more than one occasion.
Faced with a decision to run for Governor in 1962,
Romney called a news conference and announced he
was going into seclusion on Friday night (February 9) to
pray and to seek guidance beyond that of man. It was never
revealed what advice he received during his seclusion, but
he did announce himself as a candidate for governor on
Saturday morning.
This made good reading on the front pages of the country's newspapers, but another version of the story barely
made print. Romney's son. Mitt, then 14, told reporters
that his father had informed the family around the supper
table on Friday night that he had made up his mind to
rua for Governor at 3:30 Friday morning.3 Perhaps Mr.
Romney entered his vigil to seek a consensus on his candidacy.
"The big clown, he thinks he has a private pipeline to God,” says a leading Michigan Democrat.7
"It . . „ bugs me when a man parades his piety," says
the editor of Forbes.8
"The governor is a self-righteous, fiercely ambitious man
with a bad temper and a messianic sense of destiny."8
Friendlier critic, Richard E. Cross, former board chair¬
man of American Motors, comments that Romney believes
"the Lord meant him to be a leader, and he has a sacred
obligation to do it."10
One of the manifestations of Romney's religious zeal is
an absolute sense of morality. Former .Romney associate
Charles A. Ferry describes this trait: "He has an oversimplified,
horse opera sense of morality, which neatly divides the world into good guys and bad guys."11
"There's something in the man's makeup that gives him
the knowledge that he is doing right and that those who
oppose him are the apostles of the devil," says a Michigan
Democrat who knows him well.12
Romney himself states that after making a decision, one
must "believe that the decision you have made is a right
one and put everything you've got into it"13
"Since he so readily identifies his purposes with those of
God, he regards most opposition as unreasonable," says
William Shannon.14
This is hardly a flexible policy for a politician with national aspirations, but one that goes a long way toward
explaining the often violent manner in which he pursues
his opposition. If his enemies, who may be conservative
national convention delegates who wish to vote for Barry
Goldwater, or state legislators opposed to one of his huge
tax programs, become "apostles of the devil" in Romney's
mind, then he is certainly justified in using the epithets he
finds for them. "Purveyors of hate," "brown shirts," "Quislings," "know nothings," "goose stepping conformists" and
"secret culdsts," are some of the colorful phrases which
the Governor has applied to his opposition.
In 1967 Romney protested when Newsweek magazine
accused him of using the phrase, "son of a b - - - -," claiming that the phrase was "repugnant" to him and "contrary
to ... (his) . . . beliefs and . . . nature."10 The governor
may not use that particular expression, but it sounds like
a phrase out of a Sunday school teacher's vocabulary compared to the vitriolic language he reserves for those who
cross his path.
Mr. Romney's desire to put everything he's got into a
decision once it's made may stem from the painfully long
time he often takes to make a decision. Indecision on a
subject has never stopped the Governor from making long
dissertations on the matter, however. He simply speaks on
all sides of the subject—right, left and center. One doesn't
have to do much reading on George Romney to discover
that vacillation and subsequent contradiction are part
and parcel of his makeup.
Romney on Civil Rights:
"Romney listed housing discrimination as the most press¬
ing problem in the field of civil rights . . . He urged laws
which would ban such discrimination."16
" 'The Civil Rights Commisison and its broad authority
provided in the new state constitution will make it unnecessary to seek a hew open occupancy law from the
legislature,' Governor Romney said Friday."17
Both statements were made after the new state constitution was written. And Romney was instrumental in writing the Civil Rights Commission into the constitution.
Romney on Right to Work:
"Now, there is no question in my mind but that it is
un-American and contrary to our basic principles to force
people to belong to any private organization, or to permit
coercion to be used for that purpose."
"I am opposed to right-to-work laws."18
Both statements were made by Mr. Ronmey on the same
Meet the Press program.
Romney on Vietnam:
"Michigan's Governor Romney said Friday night he
opposed at this time a negotiated settlement in South Viet
"Romney says he ... agrees with Mr. Johnson that
'we should be ready to -talk and negotiate at the same
This time it only took him a month to reverse his position.
This is the man who would be our President. (One can
visualize President Romney asking Congress to repeal legislation that he himself had sponsored a week or a month
before.) "The thing that gets you," says one Republican
observer, "is that he believes he's absolutely right in every
statement he makes, even when a statement contradicts his opinion of five minutes before."21 Lapses such as these, and
Romney's American Motors background have earned him
the nickname, "the Rambler."
The religious zeal with which Romney supports his
opinions comes to him naturally. He is a devout Mormon
as was his father and his father's father before him. His grandfather, Miles Park Romney, was a Mormon of the
old school, and he took four wives to prove it. When
Federal authorities sought to enforce the statutes against
polygamy. Miles Romney fled to Mexico with his wives
and family.22
George Romney was born in Mexico some sixty years
ago, son of Miles' son Gaskel and Anna Pratt Romney.
Romney's foreign birth has raised a serious constitutional
question with regard to the Governor's presidential aspirations.23
The United States Constitution specifically bars the
presidency to any but "natural born citizens." Debate centers on interpretation of the phrase "natural born citizens."
Many constitutional authorities maintain that our founding
fathers meant that a man must be born in America (rather
than be merely naturalized by birth) to be eligible for
the presidency.2* Romney protagonists maintain that it
doesn't matter where a man is born, if his parents are
American citizens.25
When George Romney was five years old, Pancho Villa
expelled American families from Mexico. The Romneys
settled in Texas where they subsisted on government welfare until they moved to Los Angeles, The family moved
from Los Angeles to Idaho, and then to Salt Lake City
where he attended the Latter Day Saints High School. Upon
graduation he studied for a year at a junior college in Salt
Lake City before dropping out to become a Mormon
Returning from his missionary work in England, Romney
attended the University of Utah for a semester. He dropped
out of college the second time to go to work for Senator
David I. Walsh (Democrat, Mass.) in Washington. It is
commonly thought that Romney first entered politics in
the 1960's after years of success as an industrialist. In
reality his first job, 38 years ago, was political and his
subsequent successful career in industry grew out of the
contacts he made in early years in Washington.27
While m Washington, Romney took one last fling at
college. This time he lasted a semester at George Washington University before becoming a permanent dropout. Like
many prominent men of limited higher education, Governor Romney has since acquired a profusion of honorary
college degrees.28
Working in Senator Walsh's office, Romney made many
contacts with industrial lobbyists. Through one of these
contacts, Romney got a job with the Aluminum Company
of America in 1930.29 In the 1930's ALCOA controlled
100% of the raw aluminum production in America as well
as a majority of all aluminum fabrication. Scarcely a day
went by on which the ALCOA company was not investigated for its monopolistic interests. Fortune magazine called
the company "undoubtedly the most investigated company
in the universe."30 George Romney, who would go on to
propose that the government break up General Motors in
the 1950's, became Washington lobbyist for the aluminum
monolopy from 1932 to 1938.81
In 1939 Romney went to work for the Automobile
Manufacturers Association, becoming its general manager
in 1942. During World War II while Richard Nixon served
his country in the Navy, Ronald Reagan joined the Army
Ah- Force, Lyndon Johnson was Lieutenant Commander
in the Navy, Charles Percy was attached to the War Coordinating Department of the Naval Reserve, Barry Goldwater served in the Air Force, and John Kennedy commanded a P. T. boat in the Pacific .. . our George Romney
spent the war lobbying for the automobile oligopoly.32 Of
The leading Republican presidential contenders, only Nelson Rockefeller shares Romney's lack of a military record.
In 1948 Romney joined american motors as assistant to board chairman George Mason. Nineteen years after the start of George Romney's working career, he entered upon his first job unrelated to politics.
Chapter two
one of the most popular Romney myths is that he saved American Motors from certain destruction by first inventing the idea of a "compact car" and then single-handedly changed the entire structure of automobile demand in America so that customers flocked to buy Ramblers. "He pioneered the compact car, thereby forcing a profound change in our largest industry," said Ben Hibbs, senior editor of the Reader's Digest.
The "compact car" which is a car roughly the size of pre-World War II Chevrolets and Fords, was rejuvenated in the 1950's by Henry J. Kaiser who brought out similar vehicles. Nash-Kelvinator, later to become American Motors, was headed by George Mason who had hired George Romney in 1948. It was George Mason who conceived the idea of the Rambler and put Nash-Kelvinator into the compact field.
The compact cars turned out to be quite a drag on the market in the early '50's. Kaiser left the auto market entirely and willys abandoned the compact car to put its efforts into its jeep and jeepster lines. Nash---or American
Motors as it was to become—continued making the Rambler in spite of its mediocre showing.
George Romney left the Automobile Manufacturers' Association to join Nash-Kelvinator in 1948, feeling the position as Mason's assistant would be an opportunity to learn
the inner workings of the firm. One critic, an auto man,
suggested, "He was just the guy who carried Mason's
briefcase."1 Apparently he influenced a few people with
his briefcase-carrying, for by the time Mason died six
years later, Romney had maneuvered himself into the
position of "logical successor" to his boss. Romney was
elected president of American Motors in October of 1954.
American Motors lost money for the first time in 1954—-
$11 million. Romney decided to continue producing the
Rambler. In 1955, a boom year in the auto industry,
AMC lost $7 million. More Ramblers poured off the line.
Then 1956 and nearly $20 millions lost. Still Ramblers.
The following year, 1957, the loss was $12 million, but
Romney kept making Ramblers.
An AMC vice-president, having dinner with Romney
one evening during the company's darkest hours, recalls
this conversation:
"But George," said the vice-president, "look at the
figures. What's going to save the company?"
"God," replied Romney.2
Then came 1958.
The rise of the compact car in the late 1950's came about
because of a change in thinking in the automobile buying
public. This change in thinking, away from large prestige
type cars and toward economical transportation, was foreseen by the "Big Three" auto makers and all had "compact cars" on the drawing boards long before Ramblers
began to sell. The success of foreign-import compacts was
a major factor in these decisions. George Romney had
spent so many years traveling around the country evangelizing about the compact car, however, that the newspapers
decided to make him a hero. He had preached against
"gas-guzzling dinosaurs" and praised the virtues of small
cars for so long that it was hard to believe he didn't have
something to do with the market change. Ramblers sold
like hotcakes in 1958 and American Motors made $26
George Romney let it be known that he alone was responsible.
One year later Chrysler, Ford and General Motors
brought out their versions of the compact car. It is a well-
known fact in the auto industry that a new car takes four
or five years to develop. This means that the Big Three
were planning for the compact car market that they saw
coming in the late '50's at the time Romney was named
head of American Motors. Ford, Chrysler and General
Motors were pouring millions into research and development of their compacts while Romney's "brave new concept in motoring" was nothing more than a decision to
continue building the same car the company had produced for years.
The compact car fad was on and 1959 showed $60
million in profits for American Motors on sales of nearly
$900 million. AMC stock soared and Romney made a
fortune on stock options and another fortune in headlines.
He was a hero, a genius, and the best salesman in the
world to read the accounts. Romney took all the bows. He
wasn't about to admit that he was the all-time classic
example of a man being in the right place at the right
time. But the fact remains, Henry Kaiser and George
Mason developed the idea, which took over ten years to
bear fruit, and George Romney just happened to be sitting
at the foot of the tree when the fruit ripened.
In 1960, in competition with the Big Three, AMC profits
fell to $48 million. In 1961, profits dropped to $24 million.
The other auto makers could see the compact fad was
soon to fall off and made plans accordingly. Not Romney,
however, he made the same "revolutionary" decision he had been making since he became president. Keep making Ramblers. Why change?
By 1962 Romney had little interest in american motors. He was on the way to becoming Governor. American Motors made $34 million, on sales of over a billion for the first time. It was quite apparent by then that the compact car would become just another model in each auto maker's product line. The fad was over and a diversified line was mandatory. The Big Three knew this and had been planning for the end of the fad before they introduced there compacts. Romney had the Rambler, and apparently thought it would sell forever.
The last good compact year was 1963 and American Motors sales hit $1.1 billion, producing profits of $38 million. In 1964 profits fell to $26 million. 1965 was a record year for auto sales. American Motors sales fell below a billion and profits shrank to $5 million. By 1966 catastrophe faced American Motors again. Sales fell to $870 million and the company was again in a deficit position.
Questioned by Forbes magazine on AMC's probems in 1966, top executives frankly blamed " 'bad judgement' on the part of 'previous management' in not foreseeing the changes (though they were careful not to implicate George Romney by name). They contend that as the boom took off in 1964 and 1965, the economical but unlovely Rambler simply ran out of appeal. The Big Three had other models to take up the slack when compacts fell from 23% of the auto market in 1962 to under 10% for the 1966 model year; American Motors, mistakenly believing the economy car fad could last forever, did not"
In the light of the facts, the "savior of American Motors" myth pales. The "slayer of gas-guzzling dinosaurs" became simply George Romney, who couldn't make a decision. His failure to make a decision on American Motors' future
resulted in maintenance of the satus quo- which meant they kept building Ramblers and then one year Ramblers sold.
George Romney was the luckiest man ever who couldn't make a decision.
Having established his image as a businessman who gets
things done, Romney decided to branch out ia 1959. He
reentered the political scene, but this time not as a paid
lobbyist for big business but rather E.S a non-partisan,
volunteer citizen, concerned about public education. Although he did not live in Detroit, Romney joined and finally
headed the Citizens Advisory Committee on School Needs
for the city of Detroit.
The "citizens committee" was made up of executives
from Detroit's big business and big labor community. Its
purpose was to make recommendations on how the Detroit
schools could be better run and provide better service, but
its most important accomplishment turned out to be a campaign to get votes for a $ 180 million bond and tax issue for
the schools. The campaign was successful and the Detroit
papers heaped credit on Romney. He took all the bows.
George Romney, education's friend in Detroit, has a
dubious record in his home town. School board election
records in Bloonmeld Hills reveal that he voted in only
four out of fifteen school elections between 1953 and 1966.1
His wife Lenore voted in only three. Here is a man greatly
concerned with education when it means headlines in
Detroit papers, but in private he cannot be bothered to take
five minutes to vote on school needs. To build Ms image,
Romney "will recommend and campaign for higher taxes
in a town he doesn't live in, but he couldn't care less
about the same issues at home.
George Romney, "savior of American Motors," had
parlayed a complete disinterest in schools into a new image:
"savior of Detroit schools." The "citizen participation" that
he prescribed for all good citizens was a Madison Avenue
gimmick designed to get him free publicity. The gimmick
had worked so well with the school issue that he decided
he could use more of the same. This time, it was called
Citizens for Michigan. After having saved American Motors and having saved Detroit schools, it looked like Romney was out to save the state.
The new citizens group was started by George Romney
himself in 1959. He said its purpose was "to enable individuals to become better informed and to discuss and
formulate recommendations on the State's needs."2
The membership goal was set at 100,000 but fell far
short, and it is doubtful if membership ever exceeded
5,000.3 The individuals and citizens who did join turned
out to be mostly of the big business-big labor type who
had been on the school committee.
A major goal of Romney and his committee was the
calling of a constitutional convention to revise and update
Michigan's constitution. Romney visualized the convention
as a kind of ultimate "citizen's committee" and though he
often disavowed it, it is certain that he visualized himself
as head of the convention which would "save" Michigan.
The constitutional issue was finally put on the ballot
through the efforts of the Democratic party, the Detroit
newspapers and the League of Women Voters. Romney
grabbed credit for the victory, but the fact is that Citizens
for Michigan was greatly curtailed in its effectiveness by
the way Romney structured the organization. Carl Tumquist, a committee chapter leader from Detroit, claimed the
organization was top-heavy with board members and never
took hold at the grass roots level. "Functionally, it was
set up backwards."4
Mary Gill Rice, administrative assistant to the Executive
Director of Citizens for Michigan, recalls the election of
chairman for the committee:
Don Oakes, Executive Director of the group, asked for
a nomination for Chairman. Apparently Romney had assumed he was the logical choice and expected to be nominated and elected. Someone apparently got his wires crossed
and when Oakes asked for nominations there was silence.
Hearing no nominations, the group proceeded temporarily
without a chairman.
The next day, staff members commented on "how hard
George was to get along with," even in routine business.
By the next meeting, Don Oakes had arranged for Romney
to be properly nominated and elected to head the committee.6
Mrs. Rice, Don Oakes' assistant, had been in military
sen-ice in World War II and had been private secretary to
General James Doolittle. She had also had the opportunity
to work with General Curtis Lemay and General Nathan
Twining in her career.
After long hours of contact with George Romney she
could see that he was a different kind of man than the
leaders she had met in the past. Contrary to the military
men she knew, who made difficult, under-pressure decisions with a calm resolve and cool, calculating thought,
Mrs. Rice describes Romney as "beset with emotionalism
that gets out of control." He was "autocratic" and "one
who does not accept criticism gracefully," she added.
Romney "would talk about consensus, but never wanted to
hear any differences from his own opinion as to what was
right." He could never accept criticism and he seemed to
think he'd "been selected to run the world," according to
Mrs. Rice.6
George Romney was "saving" Michigan, however, and
his stock soared. His public image had never been better
and everyone wished there were more citizens like him.
Once again, however, the newspaper headlines tell a different story of Romney's "citizen participation" than the
facts. General election records in Romney's Bloomfield
Hills precinct show that he voted in only nineteen out of
thirty-one elections held between 1953 and 1966.7 His
wife voted in only seventeen general elections in this
period. This is a shocking record for a man constantly
mouthing phrases about "citizen participation." Romney
is a 100% citizen when newspaper reporters are around,
but in private he apparently can't be bothered with voting
in elections.
That Romney's committee was being used by him as
a springboard for public office started to become apparent
in 1960. Romney had publicly disavowed any such interest
previously. "I thi'nlf its (the committee's) success is of far
greater importance to the State than advancing any individual position"8 . . . "One thing that would absolutely
wreck Citizens for Michigan would be for anyone to
think of it in political terms."9
Romney later regretted he had come on so strongly on
this point. In 1960, he had considered running for the
U. S. Senate. An insider recalls the circumstances this way:
"Mr. Romney was a3l set to run for the Senate, but first
he had to resign from Citizens for Michigan. They had a
meeting at which he was prepared to submit his resignation.
"A woman got up, a Republican who had been head of
the Michigan League of Women Voters, and accused Mr.
Romney of using CTM to further his political ambitions."10
Apparently fearful that the springboard issue would reflect
badly upon his carefully cultivated "altruistic citizen"
image, "He went out in the hall for a conference and when
he came back, Mr. Romney said he had withdrawn, that
he would not run for the Senate.""
The following year, 1961, Romney ran for delegate
to his "ultimate citizens committee," the Constitutional
Convention. At the time he stated, "My primary public
service interest continues to be Citizens for Michigan, and
I have made no commitments of any character to anyone
in either political party."12
Ed Cushman, vice president under Romney at American
Motors, was named successor as CFM chairman. Since
Romney's resignation, however, efforts by CFM chapter
leaders to contact the official leadership met only silence.18
Finally, in April, 1967, after the sham had been carried on
for five years, CFM officially died.14
Detroit News political writer, Glenn Engle, said, "Speculation that Romney would challenge Democratic Senator
McNamara in 1960 cast an early cloud over the group's
professed non-partisanship . . . Many original CFM members moved over to the Romney Volunteers (so-called
Republican Romney's non-partisan campaign staff in his
race for Governor). CFM activity came to a sudden halt
that February 10 when Romney announced his candidacy
and immediately resigned as the only chairman the group
ever had."15
The Detroit Free Press commented, ". . . half of CFM
showed up in the Romney Volunteers. The other half felt
it had been had. To them, Romney had suckered them into
a 'citizens movement,' then used it as a springboard . . ."
Romney had said Citizens for Michigan would be wrecked
if anyone thought of it in political terms. He proved him¬
self right by wrecking the organization.
George Romney—a good citizen who didn't bother to
vote, the non-partisan activist who left Citizens for Michigan an ineffective ruin, the successful businessman who
left American Motors without a survival plan in the changing auto market of the '60s—was ready for the next step
in his rise to political power.
Chapter Four
Citizens for Michigan, working with other civic groups,
finally did succeed in getting a constitutional convention
called in Michigan in 1961. Here the story of George
Romney's direct participation in the Republican Party
begins. Although he wanted to have delegates to the convention elected on a non-partisan basis, he was eventually
forced to announce himself as a candidate for delegate
on the Republican ticket, while still claiming non-partisanship.1
With support from the liberal press and much hoopla
about his past, Romney won his Con-Con seat handily,
and the Republican Party scored 99 out of a total of 144
seats, a hefty 2 to 1 majority.
Romney had taken his second step upward to political
The main difficulty Romney encountered during the
Con-Con was facing the fact that other citizens (elected
through the Republican Party as well) were not as eager
as he expected to fall into line behind his leadership. The
great majority of Republican delegates were conservatives
who believed the logical purpose of a constitution was to
limit government rather than to make it more powerful
and coercive. In contrast, George Romney's admitted intention was to get a constitution to "strengthen and modernize" government.
Romney, wholly inexperienced in the intricacies of elected office, may have expected Republican delegates to act
like corporate "yes men." And, as with Citizens for Michigan, Romney took it for granted that he would be chosen
for president of the Constitutional Convention. But it became obvious after the conclave opened that Romney did
not have the votes in the Republican caucus to win.
With the GOP holding 99 seats, 51 votes were necessary
to be elected chairman, and Romney, after several ballots,
consistently trailed behind the popular state senator and
current U. S. Congressman Edward Hutchinson.
Failing to win as he had expected, Romney stormed out
of a party caucus at the Elks Club in Lansing in one of his
bad tempered snits. Persuaded by his sympathizers to return to face the amazed Republicans, he finally agreed to
accept a vice-presidency nomination. This did not satisfy
Romney, however. Having been elected on the Republican
label and depending on the GOP caucus for nomination,
he expressed his reluctance to be announced as "The Republican nominee for vice-president," wanting to take the
more non-partisan title of "preferred candidate."2
In order further to disassociate himself from Republicans, he stated "Election of officers is the prerogative of the
delegates, not of this caucus." He said his goal was to have
a convention devoid of partisan organization.8
Hutchinson and Romney were named as vice-presidents,
and a compromise candidate, Stephen S. Nisbet, was elected
president of the Convention.
One of the more interesting aspects of Romney's non-
partisan urges at Con-Con was an incident which resulted
in his accusing Democrats and former President Truman
of "a cheap political trick."4 Why? Because Truman did
not speak to the convention while former President Elsenhower did. This, in Romney's view, gave the convention
(already 2 to 1 Republican) a Republican taint instead
of the "non-partisan" flavor he desired.
The plan was for Elsenhower and Truman each to ad-
dress the Convention, giving the two parties an equal
representation among the living past presidents. Ike spoke,
Truman sent his regrets, and George Romney, taking the
whole thing personally—as usual—got upset and "intense"
about Truman's non-attendance, claiming that Democrats
had conspired to embarrass him in "any campaign he
might make for political office."6 He charged the Dems
with talking Truman into staying away from the convention to make him "look like a man who had told a lie,"8
after he had announced Truman would appear as well as
In other words, he was embarrassed because the low-
down dirty Democrats might make him appear to be a
future Republican candidate for office.
Romney had repeatedly disclaimed any intention of
using Con-Con as a stepping stone. Yet he was concerned
about being embarrassed "in any future campaign" he
"might" make. The reasons for this concern became clear
a few months later, as we shall see.
Shortly after having been elected vice-president of the
Convention, Romaey told delegates, "Wouldn't it be
wise to have a self-imposed moratorium by the parties and
their leaders on self-serving statements before we report
back to the people?"7
When questions of -his candidacy for governor arose
before his election as delegate, Romney told newsmen, "It
would be reprehensible for a candidate to use the constitutional convention as a base to further his political or personal ambitions."8
He also told delegates, "I do not propose to take any
action that might be in conflict with the wishes of this
convention including any candidacy declaration by me."9
These noble pronouncements, however, were apparently
only for the moral guidance of other people, since barely
four months later, with the Convention's work less than
half finished, Romney announced his candidacy for Governer of Michigan.
Shrieking newspapers heralded the Romney candidacy
announcement with much fanfare and hallelujahs, especially about the overnight fast and vigil which preceded
his decision. Much newsprint was devoted to his role at
Con-Con and American Motors, and many papers talked
as if they had already elected Romney governor and were
mentioning him as a White House possibility.
Most Con-Con delegates and Michigan political insiders
were not surprised at all. Romney's pontificating about the
political moratorium turned out to be just so much hollow
talk when he saw a chance to further his own political
ambitions. Many delegates felt that "the Rambler" had had
his eye on the governorship all along and that he was
simply using Con-Con as a convenient step upward.
One Democrat observed, "Con-Con is in grave danger
of becoming no more than a background noise to the
political ambitions of one man."10 Another remarked that
the convention hall was being turned into a Romney campaign headquarters.11
Reacting to Romney's candidacy and its effect on the
Convention, Michigan Secretary of State James M. Hare
commented, ", . . the basic question I raise is whether
the political desires of a single person for a short range
gain will bring about the destruction of a long-range solution to Michigan's problems."12
Even a fellow Republican moderate. Convention President Stephen S. Nisbet, said that Romney's political candidacy "has hurt the convention."13
Yet Romney still denied that it had injected partisanship into the convention. "Despite my unswerving moratorium on partisan activity in the convention, they have
repeatedly attacked without provocation."14 This pompous
statement was delivered after he had publicly become a
candidate for governor, thereby breaking an earlier "unswerving moratorium." Despite the fact that partisan cleavages were opened wide by his candidacy declaration, Romney did not resign to run for office but continued to serve
as a convention delegate, and continued to talk "non-
As Romney himself had predicted, the announcement
of his candidacy limited his ability to work freely for the
changes which CFM had outlined as important to a
revised constitution. He could not oppose elements in the
party he had albeit reluctantly chosen to carry his standard,
and the Democrats were not likely to give support to the
man who would probably be opposing them in the gubernatorial election. Fearful of offending the conservative Republicans and unable to form a coalition of Republicans
and Democrats, Romney was forced to arrange compromises which raised the ire of those who had supported the
points on which he had campaigned for delegate. He was
forced to retreat from his positions on legislative reapportionment, earmarking of state funds and an appointive
State Administrative Board.
The new constitution which was supposedly designed to
streamline state bureaucracy, abolished about 130 old state
boards and agencies and established 19 principal departments to preside over a new bureaucracy totaling 146 units,
composed of the same kind of boards and agencies.15
When he was charged with political expediency by newspaper editorials and several delegates, Romney was of
course shocked and horrified to think that anyone should
impugn the purity of his motives. But many still wondered
why he had bartered away his role as non-partisan mediator
by announcing his own candidacy at the height of the Con-
Con debates.
During the course of the convention Romney's activities
received as much publicity as the work of the whole convention itself, and both were usually mentioned together
as if Romney was single-handedly writing the new basic
document. As it appears from his statements, this is how
Romney felt about it, too. Speaking of the progress of the
new constitution, Romney said that despite all his efforts,
"It's not going to match the federal constitution. I tried
to get a better one."16 The same day he declared he was
"proud I got what I got,"17 as if he alone were the maker
of good government against the "forces of evil" who opposed him. It represented clever, if Machiavellian, politics.
Parts of the new constitution did, in fact, seem almost
purposely tailored to Romney's election. The governor's
office was granted wide new powers, although he did not
succeed in convincing the delegates that a "modern" constitution should allow the governor to appoint members
of the powerful State Administrative Board rather than
allowing the citizens to "participate" m electing them.
Throughout the Con-Con, Romney was continuously in
the headlines as the self-appointed spokesman for the delegates. The limelight proved perfect for Romney to make
use of this publicity in furthering his own political career,
even though he had destroyed most of the good government plants which CFM had outlined as important, by
announcing his candidacy midway in the proceedings. Although he had exhorted the delegates to avoid partisanship
and candidacy declarations, his later actions made this
merely another example of Romney's propensity to give
to others advice which he doesn't follow himself,
After 14 years of Democratic governors, Michigan Republicans, although holding majorities in both the state
House and Senate, longed for the patronage and spoils of
a gubematoriai victory. In 1962, the stage was set for a
mutual backscratching. George Romney could use the
Republican ticket to promote his political career, and the
party could use Romney to strengthen and reward itself.
Romney's long expressed position as a non-partisan
"plague on both your houses" politican made some Republicans uneasy at the outset. His GGP credentials, far
from well established, were accepted mainly because the
"he can win" psychology created a fever in the party. Few
could have guessed the price of victory.
Some were not so easily swept up in the "win" syndrome.
Romney's agonized reluctance to be associated with the
Republican Party prior to running for the Constitutional
Convention had not been forgotten. Before the Constitutional Convention he had said, "I am neither a Republican
or a Democrat, but politically independent."1
Even as late as February, 1962, the Detroit News reported:
" 'In the past,' Romney said, 'I couldn't participate
in either party enthusiastically.' He asserted that he
remained non-partisan until forced to identify himself
as an 'Oakland County Republican' in order to run
for a delegate's seat in the Con-Con"2 (emphasis added),
The Detroit Free Press reported the same day:
" 'I wouldn't identify myself with anyone is the Republican Party/ Romney said."3
Yet later, when it became expedient for him to change his
mind and when the OOP'S support was needed, Romaey announced: "I have been a Republican all my life. I have
never been anything else."*
In any event, he became a candidate for governor, contradicting his earlier statements at both CFM and Con-Con
about not seeking political office. Some in the Michigan
GOP clustered around him, eager for the favors and appointments that would surely follow his election. Positions
in the bureaucracy and positions of power in the party
were waiting for those who could claim a part in gubernatorial victory.
Romney had not been in the race for long, however,
before he was already presuming to advise Republicans on
what kind of party the Michigan GOP should be—and who
should be in it.
Suddenly, with his formal entry into the party, the Michigan Republican Party became a "citizens party"—which
he implied it had not been before he arrived on the scene.
Though he had been a Republican for only a short time,
among the first of his self-appointed duties toward unity
was to cleanse the party of John Birch Society members in
his famous "purveyors of hate" speech. In his fiery blast,
unparalleled in its dictatorial content, at the Republican
State Convention on August 26, 1962, Romney called for
the GOP to purge itself of "extremists and purveyors of
hate." He called for the removal from office of anyone
who (for reasons determined by Romney) was "unworthy
or unfit."
"Let me be very specific on this point. I want legislation
that will make it possible for any unit of either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party in Michigan to remove
from office any so-called leader [i.e., state, county, district,
precinct or otherwise] whose actions clearly labeled him
unworthy, or unfit to hold his office."6
Note that the Romney injunction included office holders
who had been legally elected by the citizens,
Who was to decide whether a party officeholder was
"unfit"? What standards were used to classify a party
member as "unworthy"? Apparently Romney himself was
going to decide, running the party as though it were his
personal enterprise. The implications were frightening. His
proposed laws would enable him to purge any Romney
opposition, especially conservatives, out of the new "citizen
participation" party.
At the time of the speech, the convention delegates had
no doubt that the statement was directed at Richard Durant,
popular conservative leader of Michigan's Fourteenth Congressional District, against whom Romney was directing
a personal vendetta. Durant had long been an outspoken
conservative and a supporter of Barry Goldwater. Romney
however, perhaps with his eye already on a bid for the
White House, demanded that state party leaders should
be loyal only to him. So, even before he became governor
he attempted to eliminate party leaders such as Durant,
who were too independent of his control.
Romney had conducted a no-holds-barred fight to remove Durant from his leadership position at the district
convention during the previous month. The precinct fight
became such an emotional issue with Romney that he went
so far as to campaign personally in the district, saying, "H
the delegates from this district re-elect this man to a position of leadership, then you have repudiated me."6
Romney's supporters lined up prominent citizens in the
wealthy Grosse Pointe suburbs who had not previously
been active in party politics, to run for precinct delegates
in order to have them vote against the conservative candidate.
Despite the fact that a Fourteenth District office, organized and operated by legally elected party officials was
already in existence, Romney encouraged funds to open
a second headquarters directed by Arthur Elliot, Jr., Romney's hand-picked overall gubernatorial campaign chairman. This office was a base of operations organized solely
for the purpose of ousting Darant, and made no pretense
of carrying out the day to day chores of operating a party
district organization.
Elliot sent out letters inviting precinct candidates to
"Stop at the office or call to determine what a precinct
delegate's total responsibility involves." There was little
doubt that this "total responsibility" involved voting for
the Romney-supported candidate for district chairman.
Romney's friends in the liberal Detroit News tried to
help by spreading banner headlines across the front page
on any news item concerning the precinct fight. A city of
nearly two million people was led to believe that an intra-party dispute over the leadership of one Congressional
District held in its outcome the future of the entire state.
In spite of all this frenzied activity, Dmant retained the
support of the delegates by a margin of 164-109.7
Romney's failure in the Fourteenth District contest was
due in large part to the popularity of Durant and his leadership capabilities. But Romney's blatant interference at this
basic level of the Party structure certainly decided more
than a few votes. Even Dean Charles H. King, leader of
the Romney forces, said, "I believe the delegates resented
Romney telling them what to do."8
The Fourteenth District organization under the leadership of Durant had long been recognized as the most effective Republican organization in Wayne County, which
includes Detroit. The Fourteenth was the only district to
increase its Republican voting percentages in 1962 and
1956. This was of little concern to a pseudo-Republican
like Romney. He wanted Durant out, and the effectiveness
of the party organization in winning votes for other Republicans seemed of secondary consideration to blind allegiance to himself.
The man who presumed to decide who were "good"
Republicans and who were 'bad" Republicans began his
first gubernatorial campaign by selecting a Democrat to
head his "Romney volunteers" organization—a non-
partisan group. John Dempsey, the Democratic chairman
of the organization, explained the volunteers' purposes:
"The Romney volunteers are not in the field to support
Republicans generally. We are not a cloak or a tool of
the Republican Party."9
At the August, 1962 state convention, the first "citizens
party" platform was written behind closed doors by Romney's disciples.10 In his speech Romney said, "Out of this
convention will come a new Republican Party, a new leadership for that party, and a new program by that party
dedicated to a progressive, responsible, people's government. . . .11
A part of this new look, as mentioned, included a blast
at "ail extremist organizations." Exactly what was meant
by "extremism" nobody really knew, and the Convention
didn't seem to care, as all Romney-approved resolutions
were shouted through.
Statewide candidates went through a Romney "screening" process. According to Detroit News political writer
Glenn Engle, "Romney dictated individual qualifications
and geographical representation. . . ."12
Throughout the 1962 campaign, Romney pointedly dissociated himself from the Republican label or from other
Republican candidates. His literature did not mention the
word "Republican."13
After defeating lackluster incumbent Democrat John
Swainson by a slim 51.4% in the November election, the
new Governor set about shaping the "Romney party."
Optimism reigned in some cycles. Said U.S. News &
World Report, "When the votes were counted, Mr. Rom-
ney had ended 14 years of Democratic 'liberal' and labor
control of the Statehouse in Michigan. . . "li
Had he? Romney's almost anti-Republican stance had
assured that not one Republican state -wide candidate rode
his coattai'is into office! Democrats still controlled the important state Administrative Board (Secretary of State,
Attorney General, Highway Commissioner, etc.). Romney
may have ended Democrat "liberal" control of the governorship, but soon it would become apparent that Republican "liberal" control was just beginning.
GOP stalwarts who had guided and stood by the Republican Party during some of its darkest hours were now
shunted from leadership in the very party organization
they helped to create aad which had helped elect Romney
One of Romney's first acts as new party leader in 1963
v/as to withhold support of conservative State Chairman
George Van Peursem at the party convention, thereby forcing his resignation. Van Peursem was considered a party
"regular," and with united factions had led party forces to
help elect Romney. But. Van Peursem "erred" during the
John Birch purges when he said they "had been blown up
all out of proportion."15
Romney then put his 1962 campaign manager Arthur
. G. Elliott, Jr. in as new State Chairman in the party. A
party official said of Romney's methods, "You don't argue
with the Pope. Governor Romney didn't slash both of Van
Peursem's wrists and jugular vein only to have a chairman
elected that was not of his choosing. Right now, George
Romney is the most powerful Republican figure in the
United States."16
Arthur G. Elliott, Jr., Walter DeVries, Robert Danhof,
and Richard VanDusen were all former Con-Con delegates
installed in various posts by Romney to be his agents in
fashioning the new Romney Party.
Veteran GOP members of the legislature, who had
helped keep the Democrat spending policies m check—and
some who prided themselves in having indirectly torpedoed
former Democrat Governor G. Mermen Williams' national
ambitions—suddenly found themselves singled out as targets of the new, supposedly-Republican regime in Lansing.
Some were to and a large amount of Romoeyite opposition in the '64 primaries. Still others were blasted by
Romney directly, in a raving convention speech in 1964
over Michigan's reapportionment hassle.
By mid-1964 the reapportionment situation was getting
desperate. The Michigan Supreme Court had declared
Michigan's apportionment of the state legislature unconstitutional because legislative district boundaries did not
follow the equal population guidelines laid down by the
U. S. Supreme Court. The Michigan Apportionment Commission and the State Supreme Court had failed to come
up with a new plan, and the entire Legislature faced the
possibility of aa at-large election if something wasn't
decided quickly.
Ten state Republican senators—many facing a fratricidal primary battle against each other due to a Romney-
suggested re-apportionment plan which would cause two
incumbent senators to have to run in the same new district—joined with some Senate Democrats to pass a districting plan of their own.
Romney had called for bi-partisan efforts to solve the
crisis, so the senators followed his suggestion and drew
up their own legislative re-apportionment plan.
On May 6, 1964, in his special message on Elections
and Districting, Romney congratulated the Senate on their
plan, saying, "May I congratulate the Legislature on the
amount of constructive legislation enacted to date. You
have worked diligently and conscientiously . . . the districting plan now before the House, developed on a bipartisan basis, should receive adequate approval by
Republicans and Democrats in both houses to provide a
sound program of legislative districting . . .""
Then, after congratulating the senators on their fine
work in bi-partisan cooperation, Romney, on May 9, three
days later, scored the 10 Republican senators who took the
lead as "The political Quislings who sold out to the opposition."
The wild, emotional speech was delivered before a GOP
state convention in Grand Rapids. When the Governor first
used the word "quisling" a shocked hush fell over the gathering. That such language could be used against incumbent
Republican senators at a party convention was highly disturbing to people who had spent all of their political lives
working for the Republican party. But Romney was following his usual tactic of verbal overkill toward those with
whom he disagrees.
Robert Popa reported in the Detroit News, "Romney
spoke in a quivering emotion-filled voice that was hoarse
by the time he worked his way through the seven-page
"There is no part of this talk that I have not weighed
carefully," Romney said. Denying his emotionally charged
state, he continued, "This is not a personal matter with me.
This is a party matter."19
The Governor continued his diatribe, accusing conservative Republicans of being "know-nothings." "There are
modem know-nothings in leadership positions who are
trying to use the Republican Party like the know-nothings
have done in the past . . . Now this greater loyalty without than within is wrong and it's dangerous to our
party . . :'20
Then, "forecasting" his own role in the 1964 presidential election the Governor added,
"When Republicans holding responsible leadership positions put their self-interest first and conspire with the opposition against their party's position, then this weakens
our Republican effort from within our own ranks, and as
Emerson says, there is m weakness except from within."21
Romney called upon his Romneyite Republicans to
purge the "Quisling betrayers and know-nothings, saying
'political suicide' is threatening the Republican Party unless it deals with its Quislings and wipes them out."22
Yet not two months later George said righteously, "I
have never tried to purge anyone from. the Republican
Party in Michigan."23
After the emotional name-calling in Grand Rapids,
GOP State Chairman Arthur Eliott, Jr. seemingly tried to
be conciliatory in letters to the senators at the end of the
legislative session. The letters, on Republican State Cen¬
tral Committee stationery, dated August 3, 1964, said m
"Your record is positive proof to the citizens of
Michigan that Republicans represent the party of responsibility and leadership.
"You have provided all Republican candidates with
a splendid record of accomplishment to take to the
voters in this campaign year.
"The Republican Party takes on a new lustre
thanks to your fine work."
Arthur G. Elliott, Jr.
State Chairman
Apparently the Governor disagreed and applied pressure, since according to Senator Lester Begick, the letters
were later repudiated by Elliott.
By this time Republicans were wholly confused. First,
Romney praised the Senators for their bi-partisan effort.
Second, the ten senators in the coalition were attacked as
"Quisling betrayers" at a GOP convention and made targets of a Romney purge. Third, they were again congratulated by the party State Chairman ia an official letter.
Fourth, the letters were repudiated.
The Romney purge was, however, carried ruthlessly into
effect. At present, only one out of the ten senators has
Senator Clyde Geerlings, Chairman of the Senate Taxa-
tion Committee, resigned from the "Romney Party" even
before George's purge speech was delivered—as if he anticipated the indictment of his fellow party regulars. Lambasting the Romney tactics, Geerlings said, "I do not intend to run again. I am tired of the front office taking credit
for going from payless paydays to a $60 million surplus.
The payless payday, as everybody knows, was a hoax. And
the surplus was due to legislation passed in 1962 by a
previous Republican Legislature and an expanding Michigan economy."26 The Senator said he was disgusted with
the profligate spending in the Romney administration and
accused the Governor of "arm twisting tactics" in trying
to ram through the largest budget in Michigan history.26
Geerlings, a former member of the Hope College faculty, had served the GOP cause in the Senate since 1951,
When he began his career in the legislature, he said, "I
found the front office under Governor Williams twisting
arms of many, many Democratic legislators in order to get
support for legislation backed by the CIO. Now I find the
same thing is true when a Republican is governor of the
Of course the Romney posture during the subsequent
fall election in 1964 is now well-known. (See Chapter
Thirteen) For all his talk about party loyalty vs self-
interest, he deserted not only the national GOP but often
his state party as well. The results were predictable.
No other Republican candidate for statewide office was
elected, and the Michigan legislature fell under Democratic
control for the first time in thirty years. The Farwell
(Mien.) News said of the Romney administration:
"With a program which so strangely resembles that of
former Democratic governors, and his reluctance on many
occasions to identify himself as a Republican, it is not unnatural that some people who have been Republicans all
of their lives are beginning to wonder . . . We do know
that when he campaigned for Citizens for Michigan he
made much of the fact that he was not committed to any
political party . . . Nobody except the Governor knows
for sure whether or not he is a Republican. He makes
noises like he was, but it is hard for the braying of a jackass to be mistaken for the trumpeting of an elephant."28
Disavowing party affiliation and running as if he were
almost Lyndon Johnsoa's choice for governor in 1964,
Romney did not help other Republican candidates, some
of whom lost by narrow margins where his support could
have been decisive,
ln an editorial, the Richmond News Leader coimmmented,
"Mr. Romney got what he wanted, and now he is
talking about rebuilding the Republican party. But
before he is appointed as the national leader, he had
better start- rebuilding the wreckage in Michigan,
where the Romney tactics sent most of the Republican congressional delegation down the drain . . .
Mr. Romney is neither truly liberal nor conservative
nor moderate. He has repeatedly rejected all o£ the
normal categories of political life. He is contemptuous of conservatives, and will work with liberals as long
as they follow the Romney Way. And the Romney
Way is to obliterate partisan distinctions, and run government as though it were a ruthless corporation. In
his eye, the nation becomes a tightly managed society
.. . It is doubtful that Mr. Romney really wants to
conciliate the masses of stalwart conservatives who
are the hard core of his party. He wants to cow them,
to bully them into his own non-partisan and non principled image. He already talks about 'rebuilding' the
Republican party through the Governors' conference,
where his influence is strongest, and bypassing the
National Committee which has gone a long way in four
short years toward reconstructing the long-gone Republican grass roots organization. Mr. Romney prefers a monolithic organization based on shattered party
loyalties. The only loyalty he wants is the Romney
Chapter Six
By 1966; the Republican party nationally was looking
forward to a comeback in off-year elections. Governorships, congressional, and a few Senate seats were among
the gains anticipated by the national party. After the bitter
'64 campaign, "unity" was supposed to be the byword, and
"we're all Republicans, after all," the slogan.
The trouble was that there still was no unity, and most
astute political observers recognized the slogan as the familiar device used to cover a party power struggle.
The significant fact was that the people preaching
"unity" in 1966 were often the same who deserted the
Party in 1964.
George Romney, Nelson Rockefeller, Jake Javits, et al,
who broke party unity in 1964 and helped to bring defeat,
were now ready to take the credit for a "comeback." Many
liberate, self-righteously pointing to Goldwater's defeat,
avowed that their's was the only path to victory.
One of these was Governor Robert Smylie of Idaho, a
Romney cohort at the GOP Governors meetings, and a
"moderate." Smylie was working with Romney to "rewrite" the 1964 platform via the GOP coordinating committee. He was in on a meeting at Rockefeller's Washington home in December, 1965 with other liberal governors,
including Romney, Scranton, and Love, ostensibly to plot
an and-"extremist" resolution. Smylie was regarded as a
probable key Romney supporter for 1968. But things did
not come off as planned. Incumbent Governor Smylie,
running for re-election in the 1966 Idaho primary, was
soundly defeated by conservative Don Samuelson who subsequently went on to victory in November.1
Conservative Ronald Reagan won easily in California
and other notable conservative victories around the nation
set back liberal hopes for regaining their hoid on the party.
Romney, running un-opposed in the Michigan Republican primary and scheduled to face a weak Democrat candidate, announced his Republicanism as if he had just discovered the party's name. Primary contests around Michigan centered frequently on Romney vs. anti-Ronmey
themes. Actually nobody ever came out and opposed the
Governor or his policies or his ambitions, but conservatives
generally were considered by Romneyites to be too independent of Romney control.
Romney claimed impartiality in the primaries and pretended to adopt a "hands off" policy of not interfering in
the intra-party disputes.
Just the opposite was the case.
The Governor endorsed candidates, sometimes privately
and sometimes publicly, as his preferred candidates.
Actually, almost all candidates carried Romney on their
literature, along with such slogans as "elect the Romney
team," and other phrases designed to capitalize on the
Governor's image. Romney, however, took it upon himself
to decide whom Republican voters should and should not
choose to represent them. This intervention extended all
the way down to the precinct level, where in Michigan's
14th District, TOters even received letters from the Governor requesting that they vote for his choice for precinct
delegate—all part of an unsuccessful re-run of his 1962
and 1964 efforts to seize control of the District. The 14th
had sent two Goldwater delegates to San Francisco in 1964,
and Romney seemed certain the district was controlled by
One of the more hotly contested primary battles flared
in Michigan's 19th Congressional District between the Republican candidates seeking to unseat one-term Democrat
Congressman Billie S. Farnum.
Richard D. Kuhn, former Con-Con delegate and 1964
congressional nominee for Congress, was a brilliant young
candidate with two college degrees. Kuhn was pitted against
the Romney-preferred Jack MacDonald, a one term college
dropout and a township supervisor. Kuhn had the experience and educational background; MacDonald had the
Governor's support and vast quantities of money.
Romney denied any interest in the Congressional primaries but one of his staffmen, former Scranton aide Richard Beadlee, mysteriously appeared in MacDonald's
camp.2 Headlee is a former Junior Chamber of Commerce
president, and not surprisingly MacDonald received a
Jaycee "man of the year" award. This fact was printed on
all his campaign literature and billboards.
Headlee represented MacDonald at meetings, taking
such "moderate" stands as favoring U. S. recognition of,
and admission of Red China to the UN.
A few days before the election, both the Michigan GOP
State Chairman and Vice-Chairman hurled charges of a
"right-wing" takeover by "extremist elements" of certain
party organizations where Republican discontent was rising against the Romney party. The charges, aimed at all
candidates challenging established Romneyites, were refuted publicly by 19th District Chairman Chris Powell.3
The campaign in the 19th was arduous and bitter, with
MacDonald accusing Kuhn of "Birch" support in sensational newspaper advertisements and hinting at dark, unnamed forces of "extremism" behind Kuhn. In Michigan
the Birch accusation was a red herring used whenever grass
roots Republican support organized against the entrenched
The morning after the election, the papers carried the
story of Kuhn's decisive victory, but later editions told of
a strange reversal of the vote totals. MacDonald had won.
Kuhn had clobbered MacDonald in virutally every area
except the township where MacDonald was boss. There,
in Redford Township, the following unusual circumstances
were revealed:4
1. The custodians hired to "set" the voting machines and
see to their mechanical performance were hired by the
MacDonald establishment.
2. One of the MacDonald administration custodians had
in his possession a "master key" to all of the township's
Shoup voting machines. The key was capable of opening
every door on all machines.
3. Seals were absent on the doors to the mechanism of the
4. Redford was the last area in the district to report official
vote totals, although all precincts in the Congressional dis¬
trict used normal voting machines. Other areas had closed
up and reported by 1 a.m., but Redford did not report
official totals until 9 a.m. the next morning.
5. Vote totals showed enormous discrepancies between the
1964 and 1966 vote strength. Areas Kuhn carried in 1964
were now lost by margins of as much as 25 to 1 with
some precincts reporting totals like 150 for MacDonald
to 6 for Kuhn.
6. The widely disproportionate vote totals were most evident in Redford Township.
The fact that machines recorded such lop-sided totals
looked suspicious to a Shoup voting machine expert called
in from New York's Honest Ballot Association by Kuhn's
supporters. When first consulted, without knowing any of
the circumstances, the very first question the expert asked
was "Find out how many machines have totals of 9 votes
or less." The astonishing answer: 99 out of 128 machines
in Redford Township showed 9 votes or less!
One of the easiest ways to "fix" a voting machine is to
hold back, with some device, the tumblers on the tens
and hundreds columns in the voting register, so that only
one dial moves—flipping from 0 to 9 and then back to
0 again to start over. Such a fixed register always shows
less than ten votes.
During the subsequent recount, the voting machine expert—at first promised access to look at the machines—
was not permitted to examine the mechanism on the machines from (he questionable precincts.
Interestingly, the two Republican members of the County
Board of Canvassers which conducted the recount were
both liberal Republicans and vigorous Roamey men—
both also refused to permit an investigation of the machines
ia question. Many machines had unlocked mechanism
doors, and loose seals on the absentee-ballot containers
(enough space was available for a hand to remove and
replace the contents). Poll records in the questioned precincts also showed discrepancies.
In addition, notarized affidavits were obtained on a
sample basis from voters who affirmed they had voted for
Kuhn in the precincts questioned. These affidavits exceeded
the recorded Kuhn votes on the voting machines, but they
were refused acknowledgement by the recount board.
This evidence prompted Kuhn's supporters to appeal to
the Bowles Grand Jury, then in session to investigate corruption in Southeastern Michigan. Subsequent Grand Jury
probing resulted ia MacDonald's appointed police chief
• being forced to resign from his office for misconduct. This
police chief had the duty of guarding the building in Red-
ford where the voting machines were stored.
In then-quest for justice, Kuhn backers appealed in good
faith to Governor Romney several times to intervene for
a complete investigation of the whole mess. Though disagreeing sometimes with Romney, Kuhn and his staff
believed firmly ia the Governor's integrity. Nobody would
believe that the Governor could condone such blatant irregularities. Their appeals were met by silence. Their only
other recourse for justice in the form of the County Director
of Elections was closed after the man's untimely death in
July, 1967s
Richard Headlee, the Romney staff man on the Mac-
Donald campaign, is now working for the Romney for
President organization.
Romney at first denied interfering in party primary
elections. When the charge was raised against Republican
leaders that party money had been used to help certain
candidates in the primary, Romney called the charges "a
despicable lie."6 Yet it was later revealed in court testimony that party money was used to indicate that Romney
was supporting certain candidates as far down as the precinct level in Oakland County.7
After first calling the charges "a despicable lie," Romney,
talking about "rebuilding" the Republican Party in Michigan, later admitted that party funds were used in 1966
campaigns to support "preferred" candidates within the
Party.8 For a person who believes in "citizen participation,"
this hardly seems the way to select candidates.
This preference was expressed in a Variety of ways. For
example, the U. S. Senate candidate decided upon was
Robert P. Griffin. Other candidates were "persuaded" to
withdraw from the nominating primary.
State Senators, Representatives, and even precinct delegates found themselves the victims of the Romney "preference." Scores of thousands of letters were sent by the
Governor to voters in Michigan's 14th District endorsing
Romney's choice for precinct delegate.9 This was followed
by hundreds of telegrams—at a cost of $5.93 each—sent
to delegates after the primary, urging them to support the
liberal, former governor Wilbur Brucker against Richard
Durant. All this in another effort to seize control of the
District by intimidating the duly elected delegates with
Hie supposed power and prestige of the Governor's office.
The delegates returned Durant to office, and for the third
time Romney found himself defeated in an attempt to take
over the district through his liberal cronies.
At each convention since 1962 the delegates have consistently returned Durant to leadership by substantial majorities, refusing to allow Romney to dictate their choice.
Surprisingly the District leadership continuously supports
Romney and all Republican candidates, despite the hostility
and vitriol they receive from the Governor.
Romney's interference in primaries was not limited to
Michigan however. George traveled all the way to Maine
to put in a good word for liberal Governor John H. Reed.
James Erwin, Reed's Republican opponent, charged Romney with meddling in the Maine primary. In a telegram to
Romney, Erwin said, "By what logic do you explain your
arrogance in supporting Governor John H. Reed in a
Republican primary in the state of Maine?" The Maine
primary, said Erwin to Romney, is "none of your business.
.. . This is undoubtedly the first time in history a governor
of another state has pushed into the primary politics of
another state."10
While in 1966, the Governor ballyhooed his desire to
organize a team for unity to "rebuild" the party, he did
not mention that the rebuilding was made necessary by his
own anti-party activities. The truth was that Romney disassociated himself from the GOP in 1962 and 1964—
while using Republican funds for his own election—leaving
most candidates on their own. If Romney had not so
strongly disavowed the Republican party in those years,
he might have carried dozens of Republicans into office
on his coattails and there would have been no need to
"rebuild" the party. During Romney's career as Governor
he has not once carried a fellow-Republican into office on
the state's Administrative Board. In 1966, the "rebuild"
slogan was used by Ronmey to extend his stranglehold
control over the pitiful remnants of what was once the
Republican party in Michigan,
Now it's the Romney Party.
Chapter Seven
In 1962 George Romney, candidate for Governor of
Michigan, made taxes and spending his main issues. Financial irresponsibility and a Democratic deadlock in the
legislature had brought the state to the brink of financial
disaster, according to Romney. He charged the Democrats with causing the state national embarrassment in its
financial affairs.
Romney's charges were based on fact. The Democratic
administration and legislature had mangled fiscal affairs
to the point where state employees went without checks
on pay day. Against this background Mr. Romney glowed
as a reform candidate. He promised "fiscal reform," "more
equitable taxes," "financial integrity," "tax reform," and
any number of high-sounding phrases. (That those phrases
were the same ones used by the Democratic candidate in
1960 was overlooked in the glamorous aura surrounding
the Republican candidate.) 'The Democrats said the same
thing, but they didn't deliver. Romney says he can deliver
and look what he did for American Motors," was the
thought echoed by most voters. The background of Romney's "success" at American Motors was not widely known
and although Democrats occasionally referred to Romney's
luck in being in the right place at the right time, this was
looked upon as sour grapes.
So the voters of Michigan put Romney in the Governor's
office. Most expected, and had a right to expect, a radical
change in state spending. They got a radical change—
Romney led a spending rampage unparalleled in the State's
history, while talking at the same time about spending and
tax reform at every opportunity.
Now it is true that the state's fiscal problems, which had
been Romney's chief campaign issue, did ease up after
he assumed the governorship. This had nothing to do with
government changes, however. There were no significant
changes in taxation and spending continued upward at an
even faster rate.
Once again the Ronmey luck paid off.
The state's economy boomed, sparked by record auto
sales, and the taxation-spending gap was covered by an
average revenue increase of 10% a year for fiscal years
1964-66. He didn't miss the opportunity to pat himself
on the back, but Michigan's "hero" was merely in the right
place at the right time again. Auto sales soared, Romney
commanded headlines as the "savior of Michigan" ...
and American Motors started its downward trend toward
bankruptcy resulting from Romney's failure to plan for the
new auto boom.
In 1963, Romney said, "Michigan badly needs genuine
total fiscal reform, which includes both spending reform
and tax reform."1 Spending reform meant an increase in
the regular state budget by $31 million that year.2
In 1964, the Governor announced, "Fiscal integrity has
been restored and a conscientious program of spending
reform continues," Fiscal integrity cost the tax payers an
extra $58.9 million that year, up 18% over 1963,
In 1965, just after his reelection, Romney was a little
more candid. "The budget increase I am proposing is the
largest in any single year in Michigan's history . . . while
preserving the fiscal integrity so recently regained ... I
am proposing to you for 1965-66 something more than
a hold-the-Iine budget." "Something more than a hold-
the-line budget" meant an increase in spending of $143.7
million or 22% over the 1964 budget. Michigan taxpayers
began to realize that "fiscal integrity" was a very dear
commodity indeed.
By 1966 everyone knew what was coming—cliches about
fiscal responsibility followed by a grab at the pocket book.
"The budget I present reflects both fiscal responsibility and
program responsibility ... In the tradition of past budgets
of this administration, it is both prudent and progressive."
It cost another $231.5 million to maintain this tradition,
up 29%, to over a billion dollars.
Taxpayers began to wonder just how much more "fiscal
responsibility" the state could afford!
By 1967, opening Romney's fifth year as Governor, he
had made past Democratic governors look like bargain
basement spenders by comparison. Then Romney appeared
to slow down his spending binge. He asked only for an
additional $127.8 million, a modest 12% increase over
1966; modest by comparison to the Romney of prior years
at any rate, though enough to make taxpayers' teeth chatter
in any other state. "The budget I have presented is a tight
budget," said Romney.
For George Romney, chastised by the Detroit Free Press
in 1965 for "rapidly becoming the spendingest governor
in Michigan's history," $1.15 billion was a "tight budget."
Shortly, however, it became clear why he was only asking
for an 11 % budget increase when previously his average
was 19% per year. Romney had succeeded in accomplishing in five years what had taken previous Democratic governors 12 years to bring about.
He had pushed Michigan to the brink of bankruptcy.
It is interesting to compare "Mr. Fiscal Responsibility"
George Romney with some of the other big spending governors. In the 12 years of Michigan Democratic Governor
G. Mermen Williams' administration, that liberal politician
spent 3.5 billion. "Tight budget Romney" will have spent
over 4 billion in five years!
The state was smaller in Williams' day of course so percentages are more relevant. In liberal Williams' first five
years, the regular budget went from $180.4 million to
$223.1 million, a five-year increase of 23.9%. The
moderate Romney went from a regular budget of $492.5
million to one of $1,153.2 million in his first five years,
increase of 120.4%. This is nearly five times the rate
of increase for "fiscally irresponsible" Governor Williams five years. Michigan's overall budget (including trust, restricted funds, etc.) went from $1,306 million to $2,373
million, a 181% increase in five years.8
"The figures are almost unbelievable," says one critic.
"To be able to reconcile all this talk of fiscal reform with
Romney's performance, one would have to be a madman."-1
Another Republican governor with a reputation as a big
spender is Nelson Rockefeller of New York. In liberal
Rocky's first five years he increased the budget 55% over
that of his predecessor. This is less than one-half the
rate of increase of moderate Romney. It took Rockefeller
eight years to match George Romney's five-year percentage
So Michigan entered 1967 in trouble again. The non-
partisan Citizen's Research Council put together figures
which showed what any Michigan citizen might have
guessed. Since Romney became Governor, the Michigan
state general fund spending had increased at twice the
rate of revenues in the last five years.
Roger Lane of the Detroit Free Press commented on the
study; "Inept budgeting and poor spending controls are
more to blame for Michigan's money pinch than inflation
and population growth." He went on to blame "Hasty enactment of new spending programs without adequate facts
or knowledge as potential scope of future costs" for the
financial crisis facing the state.6
-   56
"Tight budget Romney" was not without a solution to
the mess in Michigan. He said a cut in spending was "unthinkable"—thus the solution was "tax reform." After four
years of "spending reform" and "fiscal integrity" it didn't
take much imagination to guess what "tax reform" meant.
In fact. Romney had proposed "tax reform" before. It consisted of a large state income tax coupled with minor cuts
in other taxes to sweeten the pill.
Romney's income tax had been turned down on previous
occasions because the added revenue was not needed. Enactment of a 4% sales tax through a voter referendum, a
- package of "nuisance taxes" on cigarettes, beer, wine, etc.,
together with a huge boom m the auto industry had pulled
Michigan out of the financial hole it was in prior to Romney's first gubernatorial campaign. The Governor took
credit for solving Michigan's fiscal problems, of course,
but the facts point to another example of his being in the
right place at the right time.
The income tax version of "tax reform" was originally
dreamed up by AFL-CIO members of the Democratic
party of Michigan and appropriated for Romney's own use.
In 1965, when Romney proposed the tax package, Raymond D. Dzendzel, Democrat Senate leader, said, "If I
just close my eyes, I can just hear Soapy Williams speaking."8 House Democrat leader, J. Robert Traxler, said,
"These are proposals that Democrats have been proposing
for years. Romney has taken the Democratic platform of
past years and stripped it plank by plank."7 Another Democrat quipped, "Do you suppose Romney is getting ready
to bolt the Republican Party?"8
After the defeat of the income tax in 1965, Romney
said that "only a dumb governor" would keep trying with
a proposal defeated repeatedly for so many years.
Two years later he was back with the same package.
To see the full hypocrisy in Romney's stand for the income tax, it is necessary again to review his first campaign
for governor in 1962. At that time Romney said, "Michi-
gan's number one problem is to create jobs."9 One of his
campaign slogans was "Romney for Jobs." A pamphlet
bearing that phrase read, "To meet the challenge ahead,
to keep pace with the rest of America, to provide job opportunities for our children, we must add at least 100,000
new workers to Michigan payrolls every year."
The way to attract jobs to Michigan was to attract new
business to Michigan through an improved business climate. Romney had talked about improving the business
climate even before his Citizens for Michigan days. The
business climate in Michigan had not been good, and one
of the most important reasons for this was that Michigan's
tax burden on business was higher than that of neighboring states. What Romney proposed to improve business
taxation was called "tax reform." He was unclear as to
what "tax reform" meant, but it is unlikely that the "tax
reform" of 1962 designed to improve business conditions
bore much relation to "tax reform" in 1967—as we shall
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan made a
study in early 1967 covering taxes on industry in Michigan compared to other industrial states. Eight cities were
chosen for the study. These were Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Newark, New Jersey;
Buffalo, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The public accounting firm of Ernst and Ernst compared the tax burdens of
the eight cities on four hypothetical manufacturing concerns of varying characteristics. The findings: "the data
contained in the Ernst and Ernst report indicate that present state and local tax burden on industry in Michigan is
higher than but two of the competitive states."10 Bear in
mind that this is the situation after four years of administration by a businessman-Governor pledged to improve the
business climate of Michigan. Also, this study is based on
the tax structure before enactment of a state income tax.
The cities with higher tax rates than Detroit were Mil-
waukee and Newark. Detroit's near-neighbor cities, Chicago, Cleveland and Indianapolis, all had lower tax rates.
Taxes on all four hypothetical businesses were $68,085
in Chicago while taxes on the same business in Detroit
would total $214,447 or over three times as much. The
four businesses made a combined total profit of $1,294,960
before local state and federal taxes. After deduction of
state and local taxes, the hypothetical firms in Chicago
would have pre-federal tax profits of $1,226,875; in Detroit, $1,080,513.
One could make 13.5% more profit by locating his
business in Chicago rather than Detroit.
After reading this study, it would have been obvious to
anyone that something had to be done about taxes on
Michigan's business if the state was to continue to attract
new business, and hold present businesses. Not obvious to
the Governor, however.
He proposed a tax increase on business as well as on the
citizens of Michigan!
Debate on the income tax assumed the usual dramatic
proportions of any project Romney is involved in. He
wheeled and dealed, he called for around-the-clock sessions, he buttonholed, and when it looked like his program
was going badly he threatened to cut the budget. That was
a new one for the Governor, but it turned out to be another political gimmick. The austerity budget contained
huge cutbacks in education and mental health while unnecessary and inflated pork barrel programs were hardly
touched. His "austerity budget" could never have passed
the legislature but was designed solely to scare the public
into supporting Romney's $239 million income tax.
Letters and telegrams poured into the state legislature
from citizens opposed to the tax. Business representatives
testified that the tax package would cripple Michigan business. Harry R. Hall, president of the Michigan Chamber
of Commerce, testified that the plan would "put Michigan
back in the situation we were in in the '50's when big indus-
tries located all their new expansions in other states."11
(That "situation in the '50's" was the one Romney had
pledged to rectify when he entered Michigan politics. Now
he was the one to bring it back.) Hall also said, "You
cannot pile a huge new tax load on top of an already complicated foundation without placing us completely out of
line with competitive states."12
John C. McCurry, general manager of the Michigan
Manufacturers Association, said the tax package would return Michigan to the days when it had a national reputation as "a soak business state."13 "If it goes through, you
are going to see governors of the states south of Michigan
flooding here to raid our industry."14
Romney finally pushed his $239 million income tax
(which included a 5.6% added tax on corporations)
through in late June, 1967. The tax was later estimated to
be $281 million with business paying 26% of the load.15
One week later, Governor James Rhodes of Ohio visited
Detroit to talk to the Big Three auto makers. His office
in Columbus confirmed that he had come to Michigan to
seek new industry for Ohio.18
Michigan's already bad business climate had suffered
another serious blow, this time from Republican businessman, "moderate" George Romney. Some businessmen
expected their total tax bills to go up 20%, 40%, 60%—
and as high as 130% in certain instances. The Citizens
Research Council adjusted their study figures for four
hypothetical businesses to reflect the new tax and found
Michigan had worsened its relative position while still
remaining third highest in taxes.17 Many types of businesses not covered in that study would find their taxes
higher than in Newark.
The battle was not over with passage of the tax. In their
zeal to saddle Michigan with a huge income tax on top of
an already high tax program, Romney and his Democratic
and Republican allies in the legislature had overlooked
several provisions of the State Constitution—the State
Constitution which Romney helped write.
The State Constitution prohibits a public referendum
on any acts that make appropriations for state institutions
or meet deficiencies in state funds. The tax plan was surely
not an appropriation bill, but ia an attempt to prevent the
public from voting on the bill, Romney's legislative pawns
added this phrase to the bill: "This act is expressly declared to meet established deficiencies, present and future,
in state funds." Another section of the constitution prohibits a law from encompassing more than one subject.
By adding the above phrase, Romney's legislative flunkies
made the bill encompass both taxes and appropriations—
clearly a violation of the constitution.
(While Republican legislator George Kuhn took the
referendum issue to the courts, Richard Durant, Republican Chairman of the 14th legislative district, started an
initiative petition for a constitutional amendment to prohibit an income tax, apparently believing that the courts
would uphold the referendum prohibition and bar the people from voting on the tax bill.)
The second major area in which the income tax's constitutionality was in question had to do with the State
Constitution's prohibition of a "graduated" income tax.
The writers of the State Constitution, George Romney
among them, had felt that any income tax enacted in the
future should take an equal percentage of income from all
citizens. Romney himself had likened such a tax to the
biblical practice of tithmg in which all people give 10%
of their income to the church. (How the Governor reconciled the idea of voluntary contributions to the church with
state taxes, nonpayment of which is punishable by imprisonment, is yet another example of the Romney logic.)
Although the income tax passed mentions only one tax
percentage (2.6% for individuals) it contains tricky provisions for exemptions and tax credit gimmicks which have
the effect of subverting the intention of the Constitution.
This was also to be tested in the courts.
Regarding the Constitutional prohibition against a graduated income tax, it should be noted that Romney entered
into a gentlemen's agreement with the pro-income tax
Democrats to support a joint House-Senate resolution to
put a proposal to repeal the graduated income tax provision on the 1968 election ballot,18 after he knew there
were not enough Romneyite Republicans who would approve his program.19
If it took under-the-table deals with the "soak the middle
class, soak business" Democrats to get his tax increase
through, Romney was ready to make them rather than
call a halt to his spending spree.
This is the incredible story of taxation and spending
under a Republican governor, a moderate governor, a
businessman governor. In summary:
1. Romney's term of office saw the budget more than
double in five years, with spending increasing at a
rate sixteen times higher than population increase
and at twice the rate of revenues.
2. The spending policies of "tight budget George"
forced the state to face bankruptcy and make exorbitant taxes necessary to avert ruin.
3. The AFL-CIO Democrats saw their tax package
passed under a Republican legislature and Governor,
something they were not able to do with a Democratic administration.
4. The citizens of Michigan who elected Romney on a
pledge to reform spending and taxes saw their tax
burden grow and grow at a rate unprecedented by
any previous Democratic state government.
All citizens of the United States should know the story
of Michigan spending and taxes under Governor Romney.
An important decision will have to be made about this
man at the 1968 Republican convention, and perhaps at
the polls on election day. Americans should know that
Romney is a man who can make super spender Lyndon
Johnson look like a piker, and who could well tax the nation
into bankruptcy.
A story which broke in the Detroit papers in early 1967
made it apparent that Romney has little concern as to
where the state spent its money or as to whether value was
received for the expenditures. The important thing was to
"spend, spend, spend" to earn Romney votes. The first
hints of a major highway scandal involving millions of
wasted dollars appeared in April of 1967.
On April 8, a story appeared in the Detroit News telling
of the forced transfer of highway planner Ben A. Williams
to another department. The transfer was made by Highway
Department Director Howard E. Hill after it was revealed
that Williams had provided former Assistant Attorney
General Eugene T. Townsend with information which led
to charges of misappropriation of public funds and illegal
payments to contractors by highway officials. Townsend's
allegations prompted a full probe of the Highway Department by Attorney General Frank J. Kelley. That investigation was still going on when Williams was transferred.
Exactly one week after the Williams transfer it was
announced that the Department Director Howard E. Hiil
would seek early retirement. It was hinted that Hill had
been forced into retirement by the Romney-appointed
Highway Commission when it looked like a scapegoat
would be needed for the brewing scandal. Both Republican
appointees to the bi-partisan commission, Ardale Ferguson
and Wallace Nunn, refused to comment on the charge.
In June, 1967, the Detroit News revealed that Ben
Williams' charges of fund misallocation in the Highway
Department had been called directly to Romney's attention a year earlier and Romney had taken no action. One
month later the results of the Attorney General's investigation were made public.
By a strange coincidence of tuning the story appeared
in the midst of the Detroit riots. A story which normally
would have rated banner headlines was thus relegated to
the back pages. But riot or no riot the proportions of
Romney's highway scandal were shocking.
The Attorney General's report accused the department
of "gross negligence," of making "gifts to contractors"
and of showing "a shocking disregard for the protection of
state funds." A spot check of highway contracts disclosed
improper payments totaling at least $730,000 and this
was termed "a conservative estimate." One contractor was
found to have been paid $450,000 improperly. It is interesting to note that this contractor, Daniel W. Holloway,
was also a very active political gift giver. Holloway was
indicted for making illegal corporate contributions to political candidates in August of 1967. Though the illegal
gift Holloway was charged with was made to Mayor Jerome
Cavanaugh of Detroit, speculation was stirred as to what
kind of gifts Holloway would have to spread around the
Romney administration to prompt contract overpayments
of $450,000.
The Attorney General's report also exposed the doings of
Frederick E. Tripp, Deputy Director of Administration
for the Highway Department. Tripp was found to be
operating several businesses on the side in violation of
Department and civil service rules on supplementary employment. In addition to that, Tripp was found to have
placed no less than six relatives on the Highway Department payroll, including his mother-in-law, whom he kept
working well past the state's mandatory retirement age
of 70. His mother-in-law was a director of the Michigan
State Employees Credit Union. The report revealed that
Tripp used highway employees under his supervision as
cosigners on a $15,000 loan from the credit union. "Disciplinary action" was taken against Tripp.
He was transferred to another department at the same
$24,000-a-year salary!
When the scandal was revealed, Romney suddenly became interested in the Highway Department and he loudly
lamented the fact that no criminal prosecutions would be
made against those responsible. He commented, "one of
the most reprehensible aspects of the situation is that for
years we were unable to get honest reports from our own
state officials."
This was too much, even for the slavishly pro-Romney
Detroit News, which commented, "It's too bad someone
wasn't there to remind the governor of the many times in
recent years he and his staff were warned of this dishonesty
and of his own failure ... to aggressively investigate charges
of wrong-doing until publicity required it this year."
The highway scandal is one example of George Romney
only taking the action which affects his image to the voting
When sources in the state government complained of
abuses in the Highway Department, Romney took no action. It wasn't until the story was published in the Detroit
newspapers that he even had a comment on the department.
Michigan citizens know that Romney government means
expensive government. They are now asking themselves
how much of Romney's billion-dollar budget goes to support corruption.
 Chaper Eight
"THe word capitalism should be even more repugnant to Americans than to Communists..." George Romney, 1959, before 30,000 AMC employees.
  Governor Romney's statements on economics have carried him to all parts of the political spectrum: ultra left, far right and down the middle. Wading through the many vague, often conflicting economic views he has expressed through the years will leave one utterly confused. There is one pattern which emerges on detailed analysis, however: Romney's economics are always directly related to the views of those who are paying his salary at the time.
In the 1930's Romney worked for the Aluminum Company of America, which controlled 100% of the production of the aluminum in the United States. He was Washington lobbyist for the monopoly and spent his time defending ALCOA from anti-trust investigation. According to Romney, the aluminum monopoly was a "good" monopoly because he didn't think they made a spectacular return on there investment.
For the record, Romney's "good monopoly" was convicted for violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Law in 1945.
In 1958 Romney was in Washington again to talk about monopolies. This time, however, it was not "George Romney, the monopoly's friend," but "Saint George, slayer of monopolies." He was now president of America Motors, smallest of the automobile manufacturers. Speaking before the Senate subcommittee on anti-trust and monopoly he said:
"Economic power in the automobile industry should be limited and divided. To achieve the desired ends, the anti-trust laws should provide that when any one firm in a basic industry... exceeds a specific percentage of total industry sales over a specified period of time, it shall be required by law to propose to an administrative agency a plan of divesture that will bring its percentage of sales below the specified level"
One may agree or disagree with such an idea, but it hardly squares with the views of a man who spent years defending a company which controlled 100% of the production in a basic industry! It is also interesting to note that Romney spent nine years with the Automobile Manufacturers Association, chief gatherer of market statistics for the auto industry. In all that time he apparently never noticed that American Motors had a smaller share of the market that General Motors. But as soon as he joined AMC, he went out to break up his competitors' companies.
While at American Motors, Romney found that his opposition to the "bigness" of his competitors drew a lot of newspaper interest. He expanded the theme-and his opposition to organized labor, in the shape of the United Auto Workers at American Motors became opposition to "big labor." He added "big government" to the triumvirate, and he had a political speech that he will probably use the rest of his life.
When Romney became Governor, Michigan voters found out this opposition to "big government" meant "big federal government." Big state government was okay, it
seemed, as he proceeded to double the state budget in less
than five years.
Now most Republicans, all conservative Republicans
certainly, believe that our enlarging, powerful, centralized
government is the greatest danger facing liberty in America. This being the case, some are inclined to go along
with Romney's idea. of increasing state welfare services
so that the federal government will not have to step m.
This is bad reasoning, however, for Romney's record shows
that he is not against "big government," state or federal
-—when it is in the interest of Romney.
Before the Senate subcommittee on anti-trust and monopoly, Romney, as president of American Motors, prefaced his remarks, "I do not appear as a special interest
pleader. I am not here for the purpose of asking for any
special help for American Motors." A noble position.
He went on to say, "Our judgment is that we have not
received fair treatment in the placement of defense work
since the formation of American Motors." He then went
on to outline reasons AMC should get special help in defense contracts and how the government should "break up"
General Motors. Apparently "big government" is had except when it gives auto tycoon Romney defense contracts,
just as "big business" is good—except when it competes
with Romney.
When Romney left American Motors, he apparently left
his dislike of General Motors behind, for he said of that
company in 1967, "The fact is that those who excel ought
to get a bigger prize than the also-rans."4 As long as Romney wasn't president of one of the also-ran auto companies, he could be quite charitable to G.M.
As Governor, Romney said, "The Great Society is using
its great bludgeon—and I say it's time we put a stop to
it. The Great Society is out roaming the countryside looking for ways to expand its activities."5 And how does Romney resist this Great Society expansion?
Before the Michigan Senate Romney said ". . . We
receive far less than the average state in Federal grants-
in-aid." This would seem to be an enviable record for one
who opposes big federal government. A conservative
boasting of his success in resisting Great Society "bludgeoning." Yet the above statement was a preface to Romney's recommendation of enabling legislation to get
Michigan in on a Great Society pork barrel program.
"We're against big government, unless we get our share"
seems to be Romney's stand.
Big labor receives equally ambivalent treatment by
Romney. On one side he proposes placing labor unions
under anti-trust legislation. On the other he opposes "right
to work laws" which make, it illegal to force a person to
join a union in order to work.
As head of the Automobile Manufacturers Association,
Romney called Walter Reuther "the most dangerous man
in America."8 When he was president of American Motors
in 1959, Romney "offered praise for ... UAW 'statesmanship' explaining, 'the Walter Reuther of today is a
different Walter Reuther . . . Mr. Reuther is not now advocating comparable programs (of socialism).' "7 If anything, Reuther was more socialistic than ever. Romney's
views had merely changed again.
Romney's opposition to Big Business, Big Government
and Big Labor falls pretty flat when measured against his
Big Business is bad when it is General Motors competing with George Romney, president of American Motors.
Big Business is not so bad when it is ALCOA paying Romney's salary. Or when it is General Motors, a major taxpayer in the state where he is Governor.
Big Government is bad when it is the Federal Government usurping state programs or taxing citizens in Governor Romney's state. Big Government is not so bad when
it is his state government spending millions to maintain
Romney in power and boost his national image. Or when
it is in the Federal Government handing Romney money he can use for vote-buying, pork-barrel programs.
Big labor is bad when it is the UAW trying to force costs up at American Motors where George Romney is president. Big Labor is not so bad when it is unions forcing people to join in order to have the right to work.
Romney is against those who are against Romney and the destiny he proposes for himself. It is this principle that shapes all his philosophy and it is against this that his statements on economics or other subjects should be measured.
Aside from reflecting what Romney thinks will be attractive to his boss or to the voters, his views on economics also show him to be profoundly ignorant about the free enterprise system. His ideas reveal him to be yet another example of an America businessman who makes his fortune through capitalism yet remains philosophically anti-free enterprise.
Romney’s recommended substitute for America’s free enterprise economy is another Romneyism- “consumerism.” It’s already here, according to him. Romney rebuffed Khrushchev’s boast to bury capitalism with “...what they do not understand-- and what we have failed to tell the world-- is that America buried capitalism long ago, and moved on to consumerism..”
“How many of us know the definition of capitalism,” asked Romney in hs “consumerism” speech, then he went on to prove that he was not among those who knew. For “consumerism,” rather than being a new slogan to apply to the welfare state or socialism as one might expect, sounds very much like good, old-fashioned free enterprise.
“The genius of our consumeristic system is that ultimate control has rested with the many, through the free and daily economic balloting of customers in the market place,” says George Romney.
Commenting on Romney’s consumerism, one writer said, “The fact is that the consumer has always controlled the capitalistic system, which is based on the moral principle of a trader relationship in which value is exchanged for like value.” 8
Obviously the only thing changed in the preceding statement by Governor Romney is the terminology. He has merely substituted “consumerism” forcapitalism. So he has changed the terms.Why?”9
Romney explains why. “Around the world capitalism is usually considered as an economic system in which the few benefit from the efforts of the many... when we tell people that our system is capitalistic, we are telling them exactly what our enemies want to hear.”10
He then took him to task on this. “Romney tus exposes his rationale. His motivation is moral cowardice and he has accepted the enemy’s premise that capitaism is evil and oppresses the many for the profit of a privileged few.
Having accepted the Kremlin’s premise it is but a short step to adopt its methods and pervert our language to cover the situation.
”Mr Romney does not dare to set out of his cozy rut in the middle of the philosophical road and challenge the Communists to prove their lies about capitalism. Instead he has prostrated himself before the altar of a World Opinion which does not really exist in any kind of consensus and is uninformed or misinformed in whatever schizoid posture it ever happens to assume.
“Afraid to stand alone, even on his knees, Romney then tells the rest of us that we do not know the definition of capitalism, we do not understand our economic principles, and we’d be better off if we quit going around defending such an unpopular concept as capitalism.”
So “consumerism” turns out to be Romney’s way of apologizing to the world for our capitalist, free enterprise system. This is typical of Romney-- the salesman-- to coin new words better to sell his product or ideas.
(For the record, it might be mentioned that the word
"consumerism" and its vague definition are not the invention of Romney. Romney thought it so intriguing and so
much better than base "capitalism" that he lifted the word
and the philosophy behind it verbatim—in his speeches—
from the writings of second-rate French economist Bruck-
Another Romneyism created from another's idea was the
term "progress-sharing," which is derived from Reuther's
"profit-sharing" scheme. When Reuther caiae to American
Motors in 1957-58 with his ideas, Romney blasted them;
calling them a "bludgeon and a subterfuge."12 However
three years later Romney called his own profit-sharing plan
"a fresh new approach."13 Romney's "new approach" became "progress—-sharing" since he wasn't too happy about
using Reuther's terminology.14
Whether due to gross ignorance of capitalism, moral
cowardice, or a preference for Walter Reuther socialism,
George Romney shows himself to be out of step with the
free enterprise system which made America great. This
fact shows through in spite of all the semantic juggling and
jargon the Governor uses in describing our "consumeristic,
progress-oriented economy."
Remove the sugar-coating from his economic pronouncements and there isn't much left.
Romney's one consistency, his ability to quickly change
his views as his source of income changes, should be carefully considered. The eastern liberal forces who are financing the Governor's presidential campaign are not in the
contest for nothing.
The price they will extract from Romney may be very
costly for America.
Chapter Nine
Romney's position on civil rights legislation is not any
less ambiguous than are his public stances on. foreign
affairs. Although he repeatedly states that his "record is
dear," it is not nearly as clear as he would like to have
us believe.
On the question of whether discrimination can be
stopped by legislation and/or government force, Romney's
opinions seem to be a function of the climate.
Under the chilly sides of Detroit he told a metropolitan
conference on open occupancy, "When persuasion fails, the
state can use its powers of regulation and enforcement."1
But in Williamsburg, Virginia—in the sunny South—
he tried a conservative position, saying, "We're never going
to eliminate discrimination and prejudice from the hearts
of people with legislation."2
On an earlier occasion, citing the civil rights section
of his own personal Constitution, currently on loan to the
state of Michigan, he had proclaimed, "The facts are that
the people of Michigan have decreed that come January
1, all forms of discrimination will end."3
By waving his magic wand, he can turn to dust a problem which has plagued mankind for centuries.
As it happened, discrimination did not cease forthwith,
and the question of civil rights legislation remained.
Romney managed to further antagonize the Negro com-
munity by changing his mind again when he said of federal
legislation, "Too many people have been led to expect
too much too soon in the field of civil rights."4 Clayton
Fritchey, questioning Romney's motives in making this
sudden switch, wrote, "One of his (Romney's) advisors is
reported to have commented, 'Every once in a while
George gets a little shoot-from-the-hipitis. I think this was
a little campaignitis.' Maybe this is the case ... he may
be engaging in just a little temporary backsliding in deference to the backlashing."6
By May, 1967, he was no longer certain whether he
approved of open occupancy legislation: "When questioned
at a morning press conference on whether he supports the
open occupancy law now before Congress he refused to
state that he either supports or opposes the bill, despite
the fact he endorsed a similar bill last year."6
The backsliding continued when Romney observed,
"The tendency to talk and act as if the passage of a few
federal laws . . . would automatically secure the right
of all Americans to be treated fairly and equally" has
played into the hands "of those who would vent their
frustrations in acts of violence."7
With his hot and cold opinions on civil rights legislation,
Romney has, at one time or another, managed to say
something which would antagonize anyone—right left or
center—who had any thoughts on the subject whatever.
He is both in favor of the laws and against them, apparently depending on the audience and current opinion.
The mounting displeasure of the large bloc of Negro
voters in Michigan over his continually shifting stand on
legislation caused Romney to feel that he had to do something. The popular fad among "forward thinking white
moderates" in 1963-64 was to join "freedom marches."
Romney was invited to join marches in Dearborn and
Detroit but declined. When the NAACP planned a march
in suburban Grosse Pointe Romney showed up uninvited
and unexpected and—characteristically—offered to lead
the parade. He took a place at the front of the marchers
with NAACP leaders. The leaders of the march noted his
sudden, unexpected appearance: "This is where we've been
trying to get him for a long time. And with all due deference, he's going to tell you that he has been out in front
of us all along," said Detroit NAACP president Edward
M. Turner.8
When the freedom marchers invaded the northwest suburbs Romney did not join them. More than likely, he feared
his fellow marchers would notice that they were close to
Romney's $150,000 home overlooking the exclusive
Bloomfield Hills Country Club.
The Romneys' club memberships have often been criticized as illustrating the Governor's hypocrisy on the civil
rights question. While taking a public position that Negroes
should have the right to associate with whites wherever
they choose to, the Romney's nonetheless retain memberships in the Burning Tree Country Club and the Bloomfield
Hills Country Club. Both clubs refuse Negro membership.
In 1966, Mrs. Romney's membership in the Women's
City Club of Detroit came under attack when it was asserted that the club practiced racial discrimination. The
club was said to have an unwritten policy excluding Negroes above the second floor. Rather than assert the right
of free association, and her right to belong to whatever
clubs she chose, Mrs. Romney made an ostentatious display of resigning from the club. She stated that she was a
member for "only a year or two," and she said, "I didn't
know of any policy like that. I had no idea."9 It is odd
that it should take such a believer in brotherhood almost
two years to notice the absence of Negroes in the club and
then only because the newspapers told her and the Negro
voting blocs about it. The hyprocrisy is complete as the
Romneys still belong to the Burning Tree and Bloomfield
Hills Country Clubs. Perhaps they will make a great public
display of also resigning from these memberships if it is
suggested that Negro voters might be offended.
In 1966, the Governor attempted to boost his public
image as a civil rights sympathizer by selecting Negro
George Washington to run on the Romney ticket for
Secretary of State. Democrats charged Romney with
hypocrisy for putting his colored running-mate up against
the one Democrat least likely to be defeated: seven-term
Secretary of State James Hare. Hare had led the Democratic ticket in the last three elections, and political analysts
considered him unbeatable. Nevertheless, Romney had a
Negro running mate, and George Washington traveled over
the state as tangible evidence of the Governor's liberalism.
Romney and Washington appeared on the same platform
on numerous occasions. (It is certain- that the Governor
was genuinely sorry that he could not invite Mr. Washington to his Bloomfield Hills Country Club.)
Another way in which Romney used the racial issue to
gain votes was in his use of Romney girls. These girls wore
blue uniforms and passed out literature at all Romney
appearances. If a gathering was all white, the girls would
be all white. When speaking before a mixed group,
Romney's girls would include white and colored in about
the same proportion as the audience. When addressing a
colored group, Romney made sure there were few or no
white girls representing him.10
One of the areas in which Romney has the most difficulty
in reconciling the voters to the difference between his
public and private beliefs is in lus Mormon religious doctrine concerning Negroes.
According to Mormon teachings, Negroes are prohibited
from becoming either lay priests or church officials because
their black skin is thought to represent the mark of the race
of Cain."
Understandably, Negro citizens outside the Mormon
faith are less than enthusiastic about this doctrine. Dr.
Anna Grant, professor of sociology at Morehouse College
in Atlanta, said to Romney when he spoke there, "I have
reason to believe that Mormons are taught the kind of
anthropological-sociological untruths that . . . would give
them a basis for a belief in discriminatory treatment of
Negroes. And I must confess that I don't feel too comfortable about the fact that . . . you are a member of the
Mormon faith and that you feel the church does not preach
a racist doctrine."12
This point has been raised so often that it has become
a source of acute irritation to Romney—especially since it
concerns such a large bloc of voters. Several times he
attempted to defend his religious beliefs. "People just don't
understand" that the Church's doctrine is "not a racist
position," he said peevishly at a news conference. He
refused to further explain the doctrine.13
When the problem still wouldn't go away and people
kept requesting clarification of where he stood, he tried
a new tack. "People who are raising the question are . . .
raising it because of political reasons!"14
But this didn't work either, so Romney decided that the
best thing to do v/as just to bar the subject from
"I don't think I'm required to engage in a public discussion of church doctrine."15
"My record is clear."16
"My actions speak for themselves.""
Romney was not content, however, to let anyone else's
actions and record speak for themselves. After the nomination campaign in 1964 Romney sent a lengthy letter to
Senator Goldwater in which he stated that he could not
endorse the Party's presidential nominee because Gold-
water had failed to make "strong, clarifying statements
on the civil rights issue."18
In the same year, during a discussion between Romney
and Goldwater at Hershey; Pennsylvania, Romney said,
"you kept referring to your personal record—and it is
an enviable personal record."19 But Romney was concerned that Goldwater was not stating his personal beliefs
about civil rights strongly and clearly enough to deserve
Romney's support.
The Senator's position on civil rights had been published
in his book Conscience of a Conservative as well as stated
publicly on countless occasions. Nevertheless, this exchange
illustrates the Governor's acute far-sightedness concerning
what subjects a public figure may and may not be questioned on. His blatant use of a double standard enabled
Romney to justify his failure to support his party's choice
for President by falsely accusing him of not stating his personal beliefs—and then taking upon himself the right to
refuse to answer questions on his own personal position on
the same issue.
Romney has never given his questioners any more explicit explanation of his religious beliefs than to state that
"The church's position is not a racist one.' He has absolutely refused to enlarge on this statement. Those who desire
further clarifications must necessarily have "suspicious,"
"veiled," "political" intentions. He doesn't want to discuss
the issue because, "There is no way I can undertake a
religious discussion without injecting religion into public
affairs and I'm not going to do it."21 (This from a man who
informs reporters and photographers that he plans an all-
night fast to meditate on whether the Lord wants him to run
for governor or not!)
The civil rights record on which George Romney so
haughtily stands is one solely designed to please as many
voters as possible at any particular time.
Nothing more.
Chapter Ten
Romney, for all his intense sincerity, has succeeded for.
the most part only in convincing most people that he is
sincerely confused. No' one policy field reveals the Governor's inconsistency and general confusion better than the
complex area of international affairs and foreign policy.
The Governor's many statements on foreign affairs have
not only been vague and without substance, but often have
sounded utterly inane.
For example, the following statement on Viet Nam which
Romney made to the press at the Governors Conference
in July, 1966:
"WeU, look ... I ... I think it should ... oh .,. If, if
this Conflict really involves the question of our stopping
Communism, the international Communist conspiracy, and
stopping it in South Viet Nam ... if this conflict is really
being supported by the Red Chinese and the Russians . . .
if this really is naked Communism, international conspiracy,
then I think we have to weigh the question of how far ...
how much we can escalate without their continuing to
escalate if they ... if they agree that's the real issue in
South Viet Nam."1
After spitting up this word-salad to reporters, Romney
promptly told his aides, "You can make something of
Working all night and bringing m outside talent, the staff
prepared a second statement for delivery the next day, but
by that time the secret of Romney's apparent lack of knowledge was given away.
Only after his aides advised Romney to keep his mouth
shut on the issue did the Governor avoid further development of his foot-in-mouth, nonsense statements on Viet Nam.
Temporarily at any rate.
For a while, he tried to bar questions on the whole Viet
Name issue. In February, 1967, when the Viet Nam question was once more bounced against the Romney armorplate ego—Romney had charged LBJ with "political expediency" in directing the war effort in Viet Nam, and reporters, interested in a fuller explanation asked, "Would
he be more explicit about these expediences?"—Romney
"No, I will not."
"Why?" reporters quizzed.
"Because I choose not to," said the Governor.
"You just make a charge and do not substantiate it?"
asked a reporter.
"At this point," replied Romney.3
Another example of Romney's empty state of mind on
foreign affairs was illustrated when, in response to a question on Africa, the Governor flubbed completely his geography and referred to "the British blockade of Nigeria." Only
after one of his aides prodded a reporter into asking if the
Governor really meant Rhodesia did George manage to get
the correct country into his remarks.4
Again, while actually in South Viet Nam, he twice referred to it as "South Korea," in a formal press conference.6
An editorial writer comments, "The more he talks, the
thicker the fog. He has hawkish moments, then again he
coos like a dove . . ." Romney is a sad figure "trying to
explain that he did not mean what the reporters thought
he meant at an earlier press conference or interview, and
leaving them more puzzled than before."9
In 1965, having just returned from his trip to Viet Nam,
he said, "Our Intervention has saved South Viet Nam from
defeat and tyranny, but it has done much more than that.
It probably has prevented a shift in the balance of power
greater than if Hitler had conquered Europe."7
After this bold expression about the importance of the
U. S. effort in Viet Nam, Romney flipped around and in
June, 1966, said Johnson had made a mistake getting the
U. S. involved in Viet Nam.8
If Romney thought involvement in the war was as crucial
as he had outlined in 1965, then why did he one year later
think Johnson made a mistake by continuing the American
intervention in Southeast Asia?
Upon his return from Viet Nam he was full of bubbling
comment about how the Vietnamese love Americans, talking about how the little children in the streets shouted
"hello" to him. "They use both hands to shake your hand,"
he said, explaining to those less-infonned on the complexities of international diplomacy that "this indicates full acceptance of you."9
Then, a few months later, he turned around and said, "I
think there are ample reasons to wonder whether the people
of Viet Nam really want us in there. If they don't want us
there, we shouldn't be there," he said.10 (Had he heard
that the Vietnamese were no longer using the double
The flip-flop, hawk-dove, on-off, here-there statements
can be given perspective in the following newspaper headlines arranged chronologically:11
March 6, 1965, in the Detroit News: "Romney Backs
Viet Bombing. Opposes Peace Effort Now."
March 26, 1965, in the Detroit Free Press: "Romney
Backs Use of Gas in Viet War."
July 29, 1965, in the Detroit News: "Romney Joins
Front Rank of Johnson-Viet Critics."
July 30, 1965, in the Detroit News: "Romney Backs Viet
August 8, 1965, in the Lansing State Journal: "Governor Criticizes U.S. Viet Policy."
November 17, 1965, in the Detroit News: "Romney Defends U.S. Policies as 'Morally Right.'"
January 30, 1966, in the Lansing State Journal: "Governor Opposes Escalation."
June 13, 1966, in the New York Times: "Romney Favors Widening Bombing of North Viet Nam."
The accumulated result of the these positions was an incomprehensible morass of contradiction and confusion. Even the pro-Romney Detroit News became exasperated with this gobbledygood and in an editorial titled, "He's Still Confused," said:
"If all this musing represents Romney's current state of mind, we sugegest he compose his thoughts, do his homework, and then, if he really feels capable of it, come up with a positive position, not a melange of woolgathering dissertations that range from the thinking of Clausewitz to Saint Paul."
Romney's naive, ill-informed approach to foreign affairs--obvious to almost everyone except himself--was never more evident than in the statements he made right after his trip to South Viet Nam. John S. Knight remarked, "governor George Romney of Michigan made the remarkable discovery that the Vietnamese people simply love Americans. They use both hands to shake your hand, Romney explained. 'When I walked through the streets,' Romney relates, 'the little children wuld shout hello, and I'd have some fun and tell them to say it louder and they would yell so loud you'd think they were trying to make you hear it back ˙ere in the United States.'
"Now, isn't that just ducky?
"The Governor should also know that out in the villages some of these little charmers have been known to heave a grenade at our unsuspecting combat men"
In spite of all this criticism, Romney felt it his duty, after
 a meeting of the GOP Co-ordinating Council in 1965, to point out to the public that President Johnson's foreign policy was not, he felt, " thought out in depth"!
Repeatedly accusing LBJ of a bad policy on Viet Nam, Romney could offer no specific criticisms or suggest alternatives. In June of 1966. one year later, he still could not be specific, calling the policy "ambivalent" and "not a clear cut policy either from a military standpoint or from a peace seeking standpoint"
The implication was that romney himself did have a "clear cut" policy alternative which he had "thought out in depth." If he did, nobody seemed to know exactly what it was. All that could be determined with certainty was that Romney stood firmly, if somewhat vaguely, on the policy of "doing what is necessary."
On one hand he advocated efforts "to find an honorable solution without a wider war" But on the other hand he said "We need to go in and ... make it obvious we are going to win."
Romney tried once more to make a coherent public statement on the war at the Los Angeles Governors' Conference in 1966, but, alas, he again became enamored with the sound of his own voice and lost track of the subject altogether:
"If this conflict is what we seem to say at times it is, then we need to risk the ultimate because... I mean then that's in the hands of the enemy, not our hands. Now as a young boy I got kicked out of old Mexico. I was born down in old Mexico. These people kicked us out because they envied the prosperity of my people..."
The national Observer commented sarcasticall, "The connection between the war in Viet Nam and Pancho Villa and is Mexican rebels was never adequately explained"
After flailing about wildly in this sea of confusion, Romney ended his meaningless remarks in Los Angeles with
this classic understatement, "I have refrained from taking
a clear-cut position one way or another, ah, I just . , .
the President hasn't either. If he hasn't, I. don't see why a
governor should."
"Now look," he pleaded, adding the clincher, "I'm not
as deficient in world affairs as some people say."19
In point of fact, nobody needs to say anything—the
Governor's own incomprehensible statements stand as. hallmarks to .his confusion.
By iate 1967, Romney's most widely publicized bout
with the slippery Viet Nam issue began when he announced
on a television interview that his views had appeared inconsistent only because he had been '''brainwashed" by the
American officials m Saigon. On September 4, 1967 he told
interviewer Lou Gordon, "When I came back from Viet
Nam [in November, 1965] I just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get when you go over to Viet
Nam. Not only by the generals, but also by the diplomatic
corps over there and they do a very thorough job ... I
have changed my mind in that particularly I no longer
believe that it was necessary for us to get involved in South
Viet Nam to stop communist aggression in Southeast
Not unexpectedly, the reaction from the nation's political
leaders was incredulous. All ame of the other governors
(representing both political parties) who had accompanied
Romney oa the trip said they had not been deceived. Secretary of Defense McNamara said, "I don't think Governor
Romney can recognize the truth when he sees it or hears
it "21
Senator Everett Dirksen said, "The day I admit I've been
brainwashed by any body in this world; that day I should
walk out of politics."22
Journalists from all points on the political spectrum were
amaaed at Romaey's political bumble. Tom Wicker of the
New York Times wrote, "As a result of these and other
statements, it is clear that Romney has no basic or deeply
felt position on the war ... If Romney really meant
that he had succumbed to generals and admirals out to pull
the wool over his eyes, then how does he expect anyone to
look ahead with confidence to the day when he might be
dealing with foreign leaders, pressure groups and those who
want a few billion appended to the budget?"23
Detroit Free Press columnist Judd Amett said, "Just
when it seemed absolutely certain that he had been on every
side of the war in Viet Nam mortal man could reach, he
found a toehold for a new position . . . Mr. Romney confessed that for the last two years he has been living in a
psychedelic daze."24
The biggest blow to Romney's ambitions fell when the
Detroit News—which had consistently supported him
throughout his entire political career—repudiated him as
a presidential candidate saying, "The Detroit News believes that the time has come for Gov. George Romney to
get out of the presidential race ... To the News the [brainwash] statement illustrated to a nicety Gov. Romney's unfortunate incapacity to achieve stability and constancy in
presidential politics, his inability in answering substantive
national questions with something other than nervous
Romney found the editorial "very interesting and amusing"20 but his advisors thought he had better try to counteract the storm which his statement had aroused. So Romney
used his favorite technique of redefining the word which
had caused him trouble. When he said "brainwashed" he
didn't really mean "brainwashed," "I meant the same
thing as when you write about the credibility gap, manipulation of the news and when others talk about snow jobs
and hogwash. They can be used interchangeably," he informed reporters.27
Romney's inability to formulate and enunciate a coherent policy on an important contemporary issue like
Viet Nam illustrates perhaps better than anything else the overall shallowness of his thinking. He blunders into statements which he later has to retract. He shapes his beliefs to the mold of the latest Gallup poll. He jumps with both feet into areas where more able politicians tread with care. He is apparently incapable of admitting that he might possibly have made an honest mistake, blaming his confusion on the alleged evil intentions of others.
One cannot help but wonder how he would fare in a Summit Conference. Would he conclude that world peace had been achieved because Kosygin used both hands to shake his hand?
Chapter Eleven
In 1960, the republican party lost a national election it never should have lost, In  the same year, the best-seller The Conscience of a Conservative was puiblished. A runaway success, unusual for a book involving political philosophy, the ideas expressed in it inspired thousands to investigate further.
Says Theodore White in his The Making of the President 1964, "The term 'Goldwater Movement' was an annoying one. It would have been more convenient to call it a Goldwater campaign or a Goldwater draft.But 'movement' was the proper word."
Younger people,  most particularly college students, suddenly, through Senator Goldwater's lead, rediscovered the importance of the classic writings of Adam Smith, Herbert Spencer, Frederick Bastiat, and contemoraries like Ayn Rand, Ludwig Von Mises, Wilhelm Roepke, and William F. Buckley, Jr.
The Goldwater "movement" began in earnest very early, and many Michigan Republicans, like those in so many other states, saw in the Senator the kind of man they wanted for 1964.
Throughout 1961 and 1962, the number of younger people entering the michigan Republican party doubled,
and doubled again—so that by 1963, even after Romney's election as Governor, the preponderant majority of
Michigan's 21- to 30-year old Republicans were advocating Goldwater for President.
The growth of Goldwater's popularity among college
students proved phenomenal. Political commentators spoke
of "a renewed Republican movement on the campus."
Intellectually based, despite the charges of its critics, the
movement won support among the idealistic and often
iconoclastic younger Republicans.
By 1964, Goldwater support among the youth of the
party far eclipsed that of any other candidate, certainly
including Romney.2 Support for the Senator within the
Republican party as a whole was also beginning to surge.
A poll of Michigan's Republican county chairmen in
Sate 1963 showed that 77.2% thought Goldwater to be the
strongest candidate, compared to 8.8% for Governor
Romney. These results were similar to the Associated Press
national poll which revealed 85% favorable to Goldwater.3
Yet only a few months later, Michigan's GOP delegation
voted 40 to 8 for George Romney as a "favorite son."
For part of the answer, it's neccessary to examine the
work of Michigan's "Draft Goldwater Committee." Tills
group was organized to secure support for the Senator
among Michigan Republicans as part of the national "Draft
Goldwater" organization.
Heading Michigan's "Draft Goldwater" committee was
Creighton Holden, wealthy hotel owner, former board
member of Citizens for Michigan—and personal friend and
associate of George Romney.
Holden, or "Cautious Creight" as he was later }'okingly
called, was chosen to head the committee, admittedly to
placate Romney.4 The idea was that Holden, as one of
Romney's associates, would be inoffensive to the Governor
and would be able to ingratiate himself-—so as to soothe the
Governor's hostility to Goldwater.
Reportedly, the Governor did not think highly of Hol-
den's decision to head the Goldwater group, interpreting
the move as somehow a betrayal of personal loyalty. When
informed of the appointment by Hoklen himself, Romney
flew into a rage and shouted, "You're trying to destroy me!"8
After this, every effort was made to avoid antagonizing
Romney, or incurring his famous temper by any appearance of a specifically anti-Romney threat. The idea seemed
to work—for a while at least. The Governor, though wary,
appeared to accept the committee as a legitimate activity
among Republicans and he did not denounce it as a "hate"
group or "extremist." This worked well as long as the committee wasn't active, and really didn't do very much (which
was most of the time).
A case in point was the biennial Michigan GOP Conference, on Mackinac Island in September, 1963. With
county leaders from all over the state present, this was an
ideal time for the "Draft Committee" to go to work and
talk up Goldwater among Republicans.
Nothing doing.
Stacks of Goldwater literature were brought to Mackinac, but they remained in the headquarters suite—forbidden to be distributed by the eager pro-Goldwater Young
Republicans. A big picture of Romney was displayed outside the Goldwater suite.
Nonetheless, sundry county leaders drifted into the
hospitality suite, recording their names and addresses on
mailing lists and "Draft Goldwater" petitions. Sincerely
motivated Republicans, interested in Senator Goldwater's
presidential bid and anxious to find out how they could help,
trustingly gave their names.
"We're for Romney too," was the dutiful response given
by the Committee representatives in the headquarters. Unfortunately, in Michigan at that time (and since), a Republican was not permitted to be for anyone else first and
Romney second, even if Romney was only interested in
reelection to the governorship.
The rumor began that Holden's "Draft Goldwater" Committee was only a Romney front to sniff out the Goldwater people in Michigan and use the lists of names as material for a purge. True or not, the committee accomplished very little, trying as it did to work under the Romney aegis, seldom seen or heard most of the time.
Some Republican leaders who favored Goldwater openly condemned the Committee as useless, ineffective, and perhaps more interested in currying favor with Romney than in promoting Goldwater. At the Mackinac conference, the Michigan GOP's chief youth leader, a Goldwater man, denounced the draft group."this is the worst Draft Goldwater Committee in the country," said Allan P. Howell, state chairman of the Michigan Federation of College Republicans, "it's controlled by Romney."
Other prominent GOP leaders who were Goldwater boosters were cut off from the Committee altogether, Richard Durant, chairman of Michigan's 14th Congressional District, and the untitled chief of the state's Goldwater effort was all but isolated for being "too controversial." What had made Durant so controversial in Romney's eyes was his outspoken support of Barry Goldwater.
The work of Michigan's Draft Goldwater Committee, intentional or not, resulted in many Republicans making their Goldwater sympathies known--only to find themselves viewed with distrust, suspicion and hostility by the Romney facton. It was ironic that even those citizens who really believed it was possible to be both pro-Romney and pro-Goldwater found they were regarded coolly by the Romney faction.
The legitimate question arose: If Romney was only interested in the governorship and not in the 1964 convention, why were the Goldwater Republicans looked upon with such unease?
the answer lies party in the psychological make-up of both Romney himself, and of his liberal cadre. Newspaper and magazine articles had been projecting Romney as a
"potential" presidential candidate both for 1964 and 1968 long before he became Governor. Any strong support inside Michigan for someone other than Romney was not likely to be accepted favorably within the devloping personality-cult organization that was being painfully carved out of the GOP elephant.
So obsessed was Holden with tying the Draft Group to the Governor, that he stated after the Mackinac Conference, "We have only one stipulation we lay down to our people. That is, they must be loyal Michigan Republicans who recognize George Romney as the leader of out State organization."
The Draft Goldwater Committee was neutralized in Michigan, not only by Romney's efforts (or those of his devotees) but through the poor judgement of its leadership as well. Creighton Holden's motivations appeared undeniably sincere-- he really believed he could bolster Goldwater by trusting and working with Romney.
As a representative of the Senator in Michigan, the Draft Committee must bear a major part of the blame for Michigan's lop-sided vote at the National Convention.
The Governor of Michigan, generally given to cloudy statements, announced on December 30, 1963, that he was undertaking a series of political speeches and television appearances outside of Michigan to set forth the "meaningful course" he believed the Republican party should follow in 1964. Naturally, he denied these appearances were for the purpose of focusing attention on himself.
He always does.
Romney has a peculiar habit of denying his interest or candidacy for office, always claiming altruism aas his motivation--but then later he is mysteriously made the victim of happenstance and becomes a candidate nevertheless. Of course, to hear him explain it, he never intended it that way--it just happens.
In early 1963 Romney said, "My guides as Governor will be concentration on the job at hand, not campaining
constantly for re-election, and dedication to the job—
without an eye to greener pastures somewhere else."9
Responding to a question, Romney reiterated that he did j
not intend to seek the presidential nomination, but that if i
by some "chance" he should be called upon to be the I
nominee, "Of course ... I would have a duty to accept."10 Yet on January 8, he became the favorite son of Michigan's national convention delegation by means of a resolution hustled through the State Central Committee by his
"yes men."11 He still denied he was interested in seeking
the presidential nomination,                             j
Detroit Free Press writer, Tom Shawver, in a surprisingly
candid admission of Goldwater strength in Michigan, cornmented that the favorite son move "put a damper on efforts |
to line up delegate support in Michigan for other presidential possibilities, primarily Senator Barry Goldwater."12
The eastern Republican establishment was at that time i
eagerly trying to create "favorite son" delegations to prevent a Goldwater first-ballot victory. Whether Romney's
motivation was to join this move or to form a base for
himself is moot. The "favorite son" play did succeed, i
however, in making it difficult for anyone to recruit delegates without appearing to be anti-Romney, or offending
the wishes of the Romney lackeys on the State Central j
While the Governor was busy pussyfooting around the
country declaring how uninterested he was in the nomination, the Michigan Draft Goldwater Committee flubbed it
again with "cautious Creight" Holden:          
In March, 1964, Senator Goldwater was to appear in -
Detroit to address 4,500 citizens, the largest turnout in the i
history of the Detroit Economic Club, at the city's mammoth Cobo Hall. Rockefeller public relations man Charles !
F. Moore, Jr., a former Ford Motor vice president, called
the projected size of the Cobo Hall crowd indicative of
"mob psychology." He did not of course mention that the
Rockefeller people themselves had the same plans and
were praying that their rally the following month would be
as large.13 Romney was notably absent from the meeting.14
The most startling comment, however, came from Draft
Goldwater Committee Chairman Holden himself. One
would think that the size of the rally would be talked up as
evidence of support for the Goldwater cause in Michigan—
especially by the Senator's own representative. But, no.
Holden, in a remarkable press statement said, "It would
be 'presumptuous' to say the expected massive turnout
indicates a strong sentiment in the state for Goldwater."15
Why was it presumptuous?
Was it presumptuous to expect the head of the Gold-
water committee to promote his own candidate? Or was it
because the turnout at Cobo Hall was publicized as double
the size that Romney drew in 1962, and would thus be a
blow to the Governor's ego? This was another example of
Holden's inexplicable desire to avoid eclipsing Romney in
his own state. Holden seemed very much interested in
pleasing Romney even if it meant holding down Goldwater's
booming popularity,
While this was happening, conservative Republicans in
Michigan found themselves simultaneously blocked in securing support for Senator Goldwater, faced with an
' unresolved, legislative re-apportionment hassle and up
against skyrocketing state spending by Romney. A simmering protest finally broke to the surface.
In April, 1964, retired former State Senator George N.
Higgins, 63, was recalled to duty to challenge Romney in
a primary contest. Announcing his candidacy for the governorship, Higgins attacked Romney, saying, "The man
who sits in the executive office at Lansing and now calls
himself a Republican is an imposter. He used the Republican party to get himself elected to office and he has abused
the Republican party ever since."16 Higgins' announced
 intention to "rescue the Republican party" was doomed to failure.
First, in an unprecedented maneuver, the state GOP blasted out a resolution endorsing Romney in the primary before he had even announed for re-election. Second, according to Higgins, Republican party funds were used to support Romney against him.
Cautious Crieghton Holden jumped into the contest and attacked pro-Goldwater candidate Higgins. Calling Higgins campaign "ridiculous," Holden said: "I don't know of any other members of the official Goldwater organization who don't feel the same way. Our group is as much pro-Romney as pro-Goldwater."
The next day, the GOP state convention passed a resolution pledging Michigan's 48-vote delegation to Romney on the first ballot and, bordering on illegal unit rule, pledged to stick with him until he released them.
Ironically, Holden was so unsuccessful that he wasn't even able to get himself named as delegate to the National Convention. Richard Durant, Michigan's 14th District Chairman, formally excluded from the Draft Committee,, secured two votes from his own district, and had more influence than Holden in gaining the other six votes for Goldwater from Michigan--for the total of eight.
Commented to Detroit News political writer Glenn Engle, of Durant's activity at the Michigan Republican Convention, "Durant was the unquestioned mastermind of rump Goldwater groups fighting through the credentails  committee for convention seats here."
The Detroit Free Press carried the story under the headline: "State GOP Rebuffs Goldwater Bloc."
The Goldwater people were "rebuffed," but Romney was happy. Holden's committee had succeeded in pleasing the Governor.
On May 25, Romney sent a letter to Holden which said in part:
"Just want you to know how much I appreciated the Post Script you wrote on your letter of May 15, congratulating me on my election as a delegate to the National Convention.
You did a great deal toward the oderly and constructive conventon we had a Grand Rapids.
"I appreciate your support and integrity in adhering to positions that I believe are very much in the interests of the party, the state, and the nation."
(signed) George Romney
The Next day in the Wall Street Journal, a Romney advisor was quoted as saying, "Anybody but barry and we'll be okay. Anybody but Barry."
After the California primary in June, Senator Goldwater appeared to have the overwhelming lead for the nomination. Still Romney refused to permit an "open" delegation from Michigan. It is significant that it was again Richard Durant and not Creighton Holden who called upon Romney to release Michigan's delegates from the favorite son pledge. Durant issued a statement which said:
"In view of the tremendous upset victory of Goldwater yesterday, I would expect that Governor Romney--as leader of the Michigan delegation--would yield to the citizenship participation shown in California and would announce that he would support Senator Goldwater on the first ballot."
Romney replied in a news statement:
"I don't think the California results are as meaningful as they would have been if there had been a clear decision." What was a clear decision? Romney's own margin in 1962 was by about the same percentage.
*see chapter 5. This was the convention where conservative Republicans were denounced as "Quislings and know-nothings" by Romney.
It is doubtful if anyone really believed the Governor would announce his withdrawal as a favorite son, but at the least the request was made, though not by Holden. In fact, "cautious" Creight did not even approve Durant's view that Romney should release the delegates, stating only that George's desire to have all presidential aspirants appear before the Michigan delegation was "a commendable approach."
Chapter Twelve
"It was both impious and unnatural That such immantiy and bloody strife Should reign among professors of one faith." Shakespeare
If there was any substantial doubt of Romney's essentially anti-Goldwater position, his activity at the Cleveland Governor's Conference the week of June 6-10, 1964 should have made it apparent to everyone.
The New York liberal establishment's effort to use the Governors' group as base to thwart Goldwater's nomination failed, but Romney made there motivations clear to the public. In a blast at the Arizona Senator-- at an unprecedented (for Romney) Sunday meeting-- Romney's words were paraded through the national press. "I will do everything in my power to keep hm from becoming the party's presidential candidate," said Romney, contradicting himself as usual. Just days before, he had announced "I'm not part of any stop Goldwater movement,"
Romney's remarks at the Cleveland conference and elsewhere were carefully calculated to smear Senator Goldwater as a racist, 18th Century reactionary, while preserving the image of Romney and his fellow liberal/moderates as repositories of virtue and principle. By pretending to desire "clarification" of Goldwater's views, this questioning
of Goldwater was aimed at undercutting not only the Senator and conservative Republicans generally, but ultimately
the majority of the Republican Party itself.
No candidate in recent history had stated his philosophy
so clearly or made it so widely known as Goldwater did.
Two best selling books and countless public speeches and
newspaper columns had put Senator Goldwater on record;
whereas his namecalling opponents within the GOP had
nowhere so explicitly enunciated their own views! Trying
to put Goldwater on the defensive through the smoke screen
of asking for a. "clarification" of his views was a ploy pursued through the national convention and afterward. Of
course, none of the self-named moderates aimed questions
of this nature at LBJ. It was as if Goldwater were the
principle opposition instead of the Democrat administration.
Romney, parroting the liberal line after meeting with
his ideological soul mates; issued a statement on June 10
reaffirming his anti-Goldwater stance, couched hi tidy
slogans about "our universal principles."5
Meanwhile, the press picked up and echoed the charges
of the liberals, while booming Rockefeller, Scranton, and
Romney as heroes for cutting down the leading candidate
in their ov/n party. Liberal columnists and commentators
used all the stock bromides about a platform that was
"forward looking," "moderate," "modern," "progressive,"
"looking to the future,"—all naturally implying that any
deviation from the liberal status-quo would necessarily have
to be "backward-looking" and "reactionary" (undefined
words and catch-phrases designed to conjure up a distasteful image of Goldwater).
Blaming Goldwater for not having made his views clear
was a perfect screen to enable Romney to escape the
responsibility of stating his own views. In 1964 how many
Republicans knew or had ever heard of Romney's views on
foreign policy? Clearly, the smears against Goldwater were
simply a cover for Romney's own deficiencies.
Romney, parading his religious piety again, all but
accused Senator Goldwater of immorality, at least by implication. In a direct slur on the Senator's integrity, Romney
said after the Cleveland conference that perhaps Gold-
water might not want his support "in light of my strong
moral convictions on several points."4 The implication
being that Goldwater wanted Romney to break his "moral
Romney openly promoted the anti-Goldwater move at
the Governors' Conference. While Scranton was attacking
Senator Goldwater as an "impulsive and reckless man,"5
Romney went to Washington, ostensibly to talk about a
"progressive and positive" platform and then "selecting"
candidates who fit the document, aimed obviously at getting
a platform that would repudiate Goldwater and be tailored
for himself.
But by this time a clear majority of Republicans had
recognized the wide support for Goldwater in the GOP. In
most cases, his nomination was considered a foregone conclusion. Even liberal Governors Robert Smylie and Mark
Hatfield said in early June that the convention had already
been won. Said Smylie, "It is just too late (for effective
opposition)."6 Said Hatfield, "You can't argue with mathematics. When you add up delegates, Goldwater has enough
to be nominated on the first ballot."7
In 1964, the truth was that Republicans were able to
choose an independent candidate outside eastern liberal
control. A basic change was also taking place in the Republican Party. The power of the eastern establishment was
now countered with equally powerful western, southern,
and midwestem elements. And, of course, the Goldwater
movement had the advantage of grass roots support from
Republicans tired of a directionless drift in their party.
Another—perhaps in the long run the most important—
element clearly favoring Goldwater was the number of
young citizens, inspired by the Senator's views, who devoted the tireless energy of youth to aiding his nomination.
All told, die fact is-that in 1964 the grass-roots Repub-
licans decided to control their own party. The facts added
up to prove that the convention in San Francisco was won
legitimately and without recourse to chicanery, bribery, or
pressure—techniques long associated with the New York
Senator Goldwater's first ballot nomination was won
by the largest margin of any contested convention ever
To simply assert that 1964 was a quirk or an unexpected
accident is to ignore reality. True, the Goldwater campaign
resulted in a Republican party badly strained and shaken
from the ideological strife. But the wide chasm within the
GOP did not suddenly come into existence in 1964, nor
can Barry Goldwater bear the brunt of blame for widening
Running with the wolf pack of rule or ruin "moderates"
was George Romney, repeating once again his shopworn
allegation that mysterious dark forces of "extremism" were
lurking in the background waiting to devour innocent Republicans. Romney urged the repudiation of "extremism,"
saying "There is no place in either of our great political
parties for the purveyors of hate who, from time to time
in nations the world over put on their brown or black or
red shirts, flex their police-state muscles and cry for someone's blood."8
Romney, with an eye on 1968, also used the platform
debates as an excuse to gain television exposure before a
nationwide audience as a recognized party "leader." A
stated goal of the whole Michigan delegation was to give
Michigan—especially Romney—exposure to the nation.
His evangelical manner conveyed the impression that he
had a. personal holy crusade to amend the platform. (Back
home in Michigan under Romney, resolutions at GOP
conventions were drawn up behind closed doors and
rammed through without even being read to the delegates.)
In the discussion of the Governor's motivations for
lambasting Goldwater during platform fights it was sug-
gested that Romney feared for his own election if the
Senator headed the national ticket. The explanation, given
by Romney loyalists, was that Romney would be defeated
if the Governor did not take an anti-Goldwater position.
The facts do not bear out this contention.
On July 5, 1964, only days before the San Francisco
convention opened, the Detroit News published a poll of
Michigan voters, the latest available before the national
convention. The figures revealed that Romney would, at
that time, run stronger with Goldwater heading the ticket
than with Scranton.9
That George Romney should have become a sycophant
for the eastern liberal group, for purely personal reasons,
and then to have gone on into the general election with the
same divisive tactics hardly grants him credentials for
leadership of the GOP. His role in the pre-convention
maneuverings and in the national convention itself might
have been forgiven, but he didn't stop there.
His personal dissociation from the Republican party and
his anti-Goldwater techniques during the general election
campaign are to his everlasting discredit.
His role demonstrably denies to him any claim for party
loyalty he might later seek to invoke.
Chapter Thirteen
The GOP, ripped asunder at the national convention,
desperately tried to pull together some facade of unity
against the Democrats. Some of the moderates at least tried
to adopt a semblance of support for the national campaign.
George Romney was not among them.
After the closed-door "unity" meeting at Hershey, Pennsylvania in August, 1964, the liberal Washington Post
showed that "Goldwater made long, detailed responses to
Romney's criticisms. . . ."1
. Other Republicans seemed content with Senator Gold-
water's answers. Former President Eisenhower said, "I will
not only support the ticket and the program, but will urge
all other Republicans to do so."2
Even Governor John Reed of Maine, whose delegation
failed to give Goldwater a single vote at San Francisco,
said at the conference, "You have relieved the reservations
that I had and you have my unqualified support."3
Back in Lansing, after the unity meeting, Romney made
this statement: "The conference at Hershey was helpful.
Senator Goldwater did much to clarify his public positions
on foreign affairs, extremism and civil rights. He welcomed
diversity of Republican viewpoints. He emphasized his intentions that his campaign will avoid racism and extremist :
support."'4 Yet during and after the election, George sought :
to excuse his everlasting anti-Goldwater position by assert-
ing the Senator had failed to make "the strong clarifying
statements" at Hershey Romney wanted.6
After the unity meeting, most other Republicans of the
"moderate-liberal" wing of the party agreed to support the
national ticket. But not Romney. While the Romney disciples referred to Senator Goldwater as "albatross Barry,"
the Governor concocted another one of his cloudy cliches
to "explain" his adamant refusal to support the national
nominees, the phrase, repeated ad nauseum through the
campaign: "I accept the decisions of the national convention, but I don't endorse them."6 Actually, Romney neither
accepted nor endorsed his party's choice and did everything
in his power to see that Michigan voters did not support
Goldwater, or, in fact, any Republican but himself. The
truth is evident in Romney's anti-Goldwater and anti-
Republican campaign, where he completely separated himself from the Republican party and its national leader
throughout his campaign.
Alan Otten, writing in the Wall Street Journal, said:
"Mr. Romney is divorcing himself farthest from his
party's standard-bearer. Pennsylvania Gov. William
Scranton is campaigning for Barry. Gubernatorial candidate Charles Percy in Illinois and Senate candidate
Robert Taft, Jr., in Ohio are endorsing him. Even
New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller spoke warmly of
Barry on a recent Goldwater visit to New York. But
Mr. Romney stubbornly refuses."7
The question of endorsing his party's presidential candidate arose constantly to irritate the Governor during the
1964 campaign, as in the following debate where the questions came from the audience:
"Question: Do you or don't you support the national
Goldwater-Miller ticket?
"Romney: My position is quite clear. The Republican
Party has made its decision on the platform and the
candidates. I accept these decisions. I accept them,
but I don't endorse them.
"Shout from the floor: Answer the question, George!
"Question: Will. you support and vote for the Republican national presidential and vice-presidential candidates?
"Romney: I will not vote for candidates other than
the candidates in my party.
"Shout jrom the floor: Answer the question.
"Romney: That's my personal privilege, and I don't
expect to answer that here."8
And so it went throughout the campaign.
Of course by campaign-end, following his customary
decision-making procedure, Romney had convinced himself he was right. It was principled to expect the GOP to
work for him, though he would not work for the party. The
Romney objections about the platform became the rationalized justification for a wholly independent campaign.
Though Romney continually referred to the platform
issues as his reason for not supporting Goldwater, his
sincerity is doubtful. The fact is that Goldwater himself
had told Romney that his planks would be accepted if he
presented them to the platform committee. Romney would
not do this, preferring to fight for the planks on the convention floor.
Political platforms are normally written in committee
and it is there that the political infighting takes place. This
was the case in 1964 as in other years. By the time the
platform gets to the convention floor, compromises have
been made and the party is ready to show a united front to
the public. After weeks of argument and compromise in
committee the issues are looked upon as settled and suggestions from the convention floor to change even a comma,
are interpreted as factional. Romney knew all this and tas
refusal to take his planks to the platform committee as well
as the lack of substance in the planks themselves, leads one
to the conclusion that his planks were presented in an
attempt to divide the party and to put himself in the spotlight. For Romney to assert that he could not support his
party because it would not accept his planks is sheer
hypocrisy. The Romney platform planks were an image-
building gimmick, nothing more.
During the course of the campaign, Romney never once
mentioned Goldwater's name in any speeches, even at the
Republican State Convention,9 concentrating on the "Michigan on the move" theme, with all credit owed to himself.
Even routine courtesy was breeched by Romney during
his campaign. He was notably absent when Senator Gold-
water made his first Michigan campaign stop in Niles.10
It might be assumed, in speculating on the Governor's
motivation, that he really believed Goldwater would be a
liability m heavily Democrat Wayne County and other
areas. But even m solidly Republican Midland, where both
men were slated to address a rally, Romney avoided Gold-
water carefully. Though greeting the Senator briefly, out of
sight of the audience, he did not even introduce Goldwater
to the gathering and stood as far away as he could, at the
rear of the platform, during the Senator's speech.31
Later, in Detroit, an enormous rally at the city's mammoth Cobo Hall was planned for the national ticket by
Citizens for Goldwater-Miller. Expensive television time
had been purchased to secure a statewide broadcast of the
Senator's speech. It was scheduled to last 30 minutes, with
3 minutes allotted for an introduction. After hedging right
up until the last minute, Romney finally agreed to introduce
That night, Cobo Hall was crowded with over 14,000
people, and the television broadcast began as scheduled.
The Governor proceeded to give his "introduction."
Romney, with unbelievably boorish behavior, spoke entirely about himself. He expended twelve expensive and
precious minutes of exposure before the TV cameras, instead of the agreed three minutes. So much time was taken
by Romney talking about Michigan's "progress" under
himself as Governor that the television schedule was irretrievably broken.
When Romney finally did get around to presenting Senator Goldwater, he introduced him as "the Republican candidate for President," rather than the customary "next
President of the United States."
But it was too late.
So much time had been wasted that Senator Goldwater,
only halfway through his speech, was cut off the national
airwaves in mid-senteace—thanks to Romney's lengthy
It was now clear that Romney was not simply avoiding
the national ticket, but was working actively against it.
At one point, addressing a group of college students at
Wayne State University, the question of endorsing the
national candidates again rose to nettle the Governor. Why,
it was asked by a student, did he expect the Republican
Party to support him when. he would not support its national nominee Barry Goldwater? Romney's blistering
answer: "Because the Republican Party? Is not a party of
goose-stepping conformists!!!" The University's Republican
Club, sponsor of Romney's visit, which was campaigning
for the whole GOP ticket, was highly embarrassed and
prepared a press release criticizing Roraney and expressing
regret for the Governor's statement.12
Ronmey's Democratic opponent Neil Staebier (unashamed of his own party label) made the most of Romney's divisive actions charging that Romney "doesn't want
to be for Goldwater, and he doesn't want to be against him.
He wants to be in some limbo."
Throughout the endre campaign, Romney in his literature carefully avoided using the "Republican" Party label.
He shunned association with even local GOP candidates
and at one parade put a marching band between himself
and other Republican candidates to avoid association.13
Undoubtedly the most offensive piece of literature to
come out of the Romney camp was a piece entitled; "How
to Split Your Ticket for Johnson and Romney." It was put
out under the auspices of a group identified as the "How to
Split Your Ticket Committee.'" The leaflets contained pictures of LBJ and Romney, and explicitly spelled out instructions for ticket-splitting. A large diagram of a voting
machine is shown with "DO NOT TOUCH" printed over
the two straight-party levers. The levers over Lyndon S.
Johnson-Hubert H. Humphrey and over George Romney—
Wiiliam Muliken are shown in the down, or vote position.
The following instructions are printed below:
"Directions for Voting:
"1. Move the red handle to the right to close curtain.
"2. Pull DOWN the lever over the name of Lyndon
      B. JOHNSON and leave it down.
"3. Pull DOWN the lever over the name of George
ROMNEY and leave it down.
"4. Pull DOWN the lever over the. names of other
candidates of your choice.
"5, Move the Red handle back to the left and open
the curtain.
—Sponsored by the "How to Split Your Ticket Committee."
This blatant piece of anti-party literature was to be
distributed just before election day to prevent any protest
action. Letters selling the leaflets and discussing their
distribution were mailed out by a person identified as
Mildred B. Smith. The letters say in part:14
"We hope to have our bulletin printed by October 19,
1964. We hope to distribute them to voters just prior
to election time—October 30, 31, and November 1,
and 2, and at the polls November 3—so that our
efforts will not be counteracted . . . We are printing
100,000 copies ..."
Mildred B. Smith
226 East First Street
Flint, Michigan
When the Republican and Goldwater-Miller staffs received word of this business, questions were asked regarding who was behind it. The State Chairman of the Romney
Volunteers, Dr. John Dempsey, made a formal announcement saying: "We wish to make it very clear that the
Romney Volunteers has no connection with this campaign
technique . . ."15
But, the address 226 East First Street in Flint, from
which the "Split Your Ticket" literature was to be ordered
was in tact the Flint headquarters of the Romney volunteers!16 Furthermore, Mildred B. Smith was a political
appointee of George Romney's to the board of Eastern
Michigan University.17
Romney was asked by Dr. Tyrone Gillespie of Citizens
for Goldwater-Miller to repudiate the "Split Your Ticket"
group. Romney, in spite of the facts as presented, denied
connection with the literature "in any way."18
He would not, however, repudiate the "Split Your
Ticket" campaign in any statement.
The Governor denied connection between his organization and the ticket-splitting group—but the facts say contrariwise.19 At 2:30 p.m. on October 28, 1964, there was
a meeting at the Tobin Building in Detroit at which were
present, among others, Mildred B. Smith, Jerry Walberg
(Chairman of the 7th Zone Romney Volunteers) and
David Taylor (Walberg's assistant in the Romney Volunteers). From this meeting came the information that early
in October in Lansing there had been a meeting of the
Romney Volunteers. At this meeting, the program of putting out instructions to "split your ticket" for Romney and
Johnson was discussed. Governor Romney was present for
part of the meeting and was aware of the idea, but decided
he would not take "official" notice of it.
Mildred Smith prepared letters and arranged to send the
leaflets throughout the state to the Romney Volunteers
organizers in Grand Rapids, Monroe, Ingham County, and
It was stated that Dr. John Dempsey, state Chairman of
the Romney Volunteers, obtained the funds to finance the
The ticket-splitting handout was printed at the Schultz
Printing Company in Flint, and though the exact number
of copies was unknown. Life magazine, in a story on page
35 of the October 30, 1964, issue, says 'that the number
proposed was 200,000.
Subsequent to distribution of the fivers, a half-page ad
appeared in the Birmingham, (Mich.), Eccentric20 urging
voters to split their ballot for LBJ and Romney. The ad
was in violation of state law, in that it did not have a name
or address on it. It was signed only by the "Friends of
President Johnson and Governor Romney Committee."
Large smiling photos of both Johnson and Romney were
displayed along with copy endorsing the election of both.
Another and-Goldwater ad appeared in the Michigan
Chronicle, Detroit's Negro newspaper, sponsored by the
black power "Freedom Now Party." The ad stated:
"Attention Negroes, Want to Hit Back at Goldwater
and the Republicans?
Join the Freedom Now Party."
The ad went on to offer literature on the Romney Volunteers and Negroes wishing to join the party were told to,
"Make all checks payable to Romney Volunteers."21
Citizens for Goldwater-Miller called upon Romney publicly to "repudiate the implication that he is running on the
same ticket as President Johnson."22
Romney, though never forthrightly repudiating the "split
your ticket" efforts, said only "I've made it clear that I am
not going to vote for President Johnson. I have not indicated what I would do with my own ballot."23
(In December after the election, the Governor re-
appointed ticket-splitter Mildred B. Smith to the Board of
Eastern Michigan University.)24
If there was any doubt remaining about Romney's position, a pre-election Romney statement quoted in the Wall
Street Journal cleared it up. "A Goldwater defeat wouldn't
necessarily be a 'bad thing in terms of long-term result,'
Michigan Governor Romney said. 'Victory doesn't always
produce the best result.' ""2"
Indeed, the long-term result of a Goldwater defeat would
pave the way for a Romney strike at the Presidency in
1968. (Keep in mind that Romney could aot have waited
out an 8-year Goldwater term and run himself in 1972. He
would be 65 years old in 1972 and a "senior citizen" to the
country's youthful electorate.)
Following the 1964 election, in a now famous exchange
of letters with Goldwater, Romney sought to rationalize his
position by claiming a "lack of understanding" of the
Senator's views.
The letters, made public in 1966, were leaked to the
press at that time, it seems, so the issue would blow over
before 1968 drew too close. In his letter, Ronmey again
brought up the same excuses about civil rights and extremism he harped on at the national convention and made the unsubstantiated charge that the national GOP, through a "deal," sold out to southern segregationists in 1964.
Yet on August 5, 1964, even be'jore the Hershey conference, Romney had said that the national platform was
"a good platform" and that the party had taken a "good
step in the right direction" at the national convention
which he said "may prove to have been a historical turning
point for our nation." 2a
It appears as if Romney decided on his anti-Goldwater
position first and then thought up "reservations"27 to explain his attitude afterward.
As far as Romney's charge that he couldn't understand
Goldwater's views because the two never had an "in depth"
discussion, Goldwater replied;
"I don't know how many meetings it takes to satisfy
him. Maybe he doesn't catch on quickly. Maybe it would
take a solid week of eight hours each day talking. If that's
the case, I'm sorry I didn't realize how long it took him to
But then, several years earlier Romaey had said, "I am
not a Republican but an independent"29
His actions in 1964 proved the point—a point which all
Republicans, and delegates to the 1968 convention, should
not forget
Chapter Fourteen
With Goldwater out of the way, Romney's presidential
bandwagon got into high gear at the start of 1965. Plans
were under way for a huge campaign organization which
would steamroll its way to the top of the 1968 Republican
ticket. The organization would work underground so that
the Governor's hand would not be exposed too early. But
indications soon leaked into the press.
In January, Romney publicly announced the appointment of Mrs. Elly Peterson (former assistant chairman of
the Republican National Committee) as an executive assistant for national affairs. Romney was not specific on her
duties, saying only that she would "handle a lot of stuff
from people throughout the country."1
The Romney for President campaign was on.
On February 10, 1965, a month later, a secret "national
affairs office" was opened in Lansing.2 Behind an unmarked
door, two paid workers, Dorothy Haskins and Glenn L.
Bachelder, and numerous volunteers, answered the unlisted telephones and worked at the task of gradually building Romney's public image over the next three and a half
years so that by the summer of 1968 he would stand alone
as the man most likely to lead the Republican party to
The secret office was supervised by Mrs. Peterson, as
well as the Governor's egghead adviser, Walter DeVries.
Professor DeVries, along with former Michigan Department of Commerce chief Robert Mclntosh, had been barnstorming through the country carrying the Romney gospel
months before the Goldwater defeat. Now, they went into
high gear in the race toward 1968.
This rapidly growing 1968 organization, secret offices;,
secret telephone and nationwide travel and entertainment
was getting expensive. Private funds from admirers of the
Governor financed it, according to Romney's aide, George
T. Trumbull.3 Reporters were unable to learn the identity
of any of these "admirers" or just why they would want to
finance Governor Ronmey.
Late in February, 1965, Romney strengthened the
"Romney for '68" organization as well as his grip on the
Michigan Republican party by having Mrs. Peterson installed as party chairman.
Throughout 1965 Romney went from coast to coast in
a national image-building binge unprecedented in Michigan
politics. He was out of the state so much that people began
to wonder if he remembered which state was paying him
$30,000 a year plus expenses. By mid-November, Democrats in the state legislature could contain their disgust no
longer. They posted the score: Michigan's Governor had
been rambling outside of Michigan on 73 of the last 319
days. Michigan taxpayers were obligated to pay Lieutenant
Governor William Milliken over $2,600 in extra pay for
filling in while Romney spent nearly 30% of his $30,000-
a-year time away from the state.4
The Romney for President organization continued to
grow and the candidate continued to evade questions about
his candidacy. He never gave a flat no, but he always played
down the question. Occasionally he would admit that a
genuine grass-roots draft might get his hat into the ring.
Under cover, the secret campaign organization was engineering that "grass roots draft."
As the staff grew larger, its character began to change.
Originally made up of his old friends who had worked with
him through Con-Con and the gubernatorial campaign and
contributed so much to his success, the organization began
to take on new faces. Gradually the faithful following of
earlier Michigan campaigns began to give way to polished
professional politicians from the wealthy eastern liberal
wing of the Republican party.
That Romney was being courted by the powerful liberal
establishment first became apparent in September of 1965,
when he met behind closed doors with Charles F. Moore,
former vice president of public relations for Ford Motor
Company and 1964 Johnson booster. Prior to joining the
Lyndon Johnson campaign, Moore was a key figure in the
"stop Goldwater movement" at the 1964 Republican convention.0 The meeting took place at the Marriott Twin
Bridge Motel in Virginia. The motel is owned by Romney's
multimillionaire friend, J, Willard Marriott.
The following month, October, 1965, Romney made a
series of addresses and held private meetings with the eastern liberal wing of the party. Among those included were
William Paley, board chairman of CBS; George Champion,
chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank; Walter Thayer,
president of the New York Tribune; Thomas E. Dewey,
the liberal establishment's presidential candidate in 1944
and 1948; and Herbert Brownell, New York lawyer and
attorney general under Elsenhower.6 Paley, Thayer and
Dewey are members of the eastern liberal group which
controlled the naming of every Republican presidential
candidate from 1936 through 1960.
George Romney, advocate of wider citizen participation,
was beginning to attract some powerful citizens indeed to
his company.
William S. White detected the eastern power interests'
courtship of Romney by June of 1966. "The new factor
[in the Republican party j is what amounts to a public
embrace of Romney by Governor William Scranton of
Pennsylvania. In a word, the Eastern GOP Establishment
which has mastered every convention except one since the
Franklin D. Roosevelt era, is bestirring itself. It intends to
regain the dominance that slipped away in 1964 with the
nomination of the western and ultra-conservative Barry
White went on to say, "It is early yet for a firm prediction, but it is far from fanciful to see matters developing
along these lines: A determined push to put Romney over
the top for the presidential nomination with 'somebody
from New York,' quite possibly Senator Jacob Javits as
his running mate."8
Senator Javits has been boosting himself as vice presidential candidate since early 1966. At the same tune Javits
has praised Romney for leader of the ticket, while downgrading other Republicans.9
In November, 1966, a story in the Detroit Free Press
headlined "Romney and Kingmakers Huddle at Plush Motel," revealed another secret meeting in Willard Marriott's
motel. Present were Leonard Hall, Republican national
chairman under Eisenhower; Richard Carter, executive of
Continental Airlines; Marriott; and Romney aides DeVries
and Mclnto.'h.10
A month later, in December, 1966, Romney made a
secret, unannounced trip to New York where he reportedly
told his '68 campaign associates to "get the show on the
road."11 Two days later he again publicly declined to
acknowledge his candidacy.12 In reference to his growing
list of unannounced trips and secret meetings, the Governor
told reporters, "I'm not going to tell you of every move I
make in the coming months and days ahead, or every time
I hold a meeting with anybody."13
In February, 1967, two years after the secret Lansing
campaign office was opened, "the show got on the road"
publicly. A second campaign headquarters was opened in
Washington, D. C., and Leonard Hall was announced as
national chairman of the Romney for President Committee.
Other committee members included: J. Clifford Folger,
Washington investment banker and director of Hiram
Walker; Burlington Industries, Hilton Hotels and IBM—
in charge of fund raising; J. Willard Marriott, hotel and
restaurant chain millionaire; and Max Fisher, Detroit
The campaign staff itself was now overflowing with
professional aides offered from all segments of the eastern
establishment's political base. Displacing Romney's Michigan friends were men such as Thomas Stephens, former
Rockefeller aide; William G. Murphy, former right-hand
man to William Scranton; Jack Vandenberg, former assistant to liberal Senator Clifford Case; Lawrence Lindemer
from Michigan, 1964 Midwest campaign director for
Rockefeller; Travis Cross, aide to the anti-Vietnam Governor of Oregon, Mark Hatfield; and Richard Headlee of
Kuhn campaign fame, another aide of Scranton.
In May, yet another Rockefeller aide joined Romney's
camp—Carl Spad, one of the New York governor's key
advisors who resigned his $30,000 a year job as New York's
Republican state chairman to get into the Romney campaign.14
Two other Romney staffers are of special interest. Bruce
Chapman and George P. Gilder were editors of the so-
called "progressive Republican" Harvard magazine called
Advance. Even the most liberal Republicans were embarrassed by this publication, and it folded for lack of support in 1964. Both editors joined the stop Goldwater
movement, after which Gilder went to work for the New
Leader, the house organ of America's non-Communist
democratic left.10 Perhaps such men are not of the political
coloring Romney would prefer himself, but they will illustrate the kind of thinking prevalent among the Governor's
eastern liberal advisors.
The campaign was now at least partially above ground
and the' establishment's men had full command a year
and a half before convention time. The organization was
huge, and maintaining it ran to hundreds of thousands of
dollars. Romney would have to turn toward the wealthy
easterners to keep his bandwagon in high gear all the way
to 1968.
George Romney, advocate of greater "citizen participation," began to travel with some very illustrious citizens
indeed. In May, 1967, Romney set out on a fund-raising
tour of three cities where he met with some of the most
powerful men in America. Cleveland Cliffs Mining loaned
the Governor a luxurious private jet for a trip to Cleveland
to meet with the prestigious Fifty Club. Club members
include Willis B, Boyer, Chairman of Republic Steel; Francis A. Coy, president of the May Company; Gregory S.
DeVine, president of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway;
Charles E. Spahr, president of Standard Oil of Ohio; and
Vernon Stouffer, owner of the restaurant and food chain.
Armed guards made sure uninvited guests stayed away.
Romney made his first open fund appeal to the gathered
Standard Oil of Indiana provided a plush jet for Romney's next trip, this time to Chicago for a black tie dinner
at the wealthy and influential Commercial Club of Chicago.
"You don't get asked to join this Club, you're born into it,"
said an observer familiar with Chicago High Society.17
There was a solid ring of limousines around the block as
chauffeurs waited for their employers to leave. Romney addressed his remarks on the "excessive concentration of
power" to one of the most powerful groups of businessmen
ever gathered in one place. Applauding in the audience
were: Robert D. Stuart, president of Quaker Oats Corporation; General Robert E. Wood, former chairman of Sears,
Roebuck & Company; and Edward L. Ryerson of Ryerson
Two days later Romney climbed into an elegant jet
owned by American Telephone and Telegraph Company
and headed for New York to address the exclusive River
Club. The guests loved his references to excessive power
in government and labor and managed not to notice his
hints at excessive power in management. Guests included:
Bmce A. Gimbel, president of Gimbel Brothers; Zenon C.
R. Hansen, chairman of the board of Mack Trucks; Richard
Hodgson, president of Fairchild Camera and Instrument
Corporation; Howard B. Johnson, president of the Howard
Johnson restaurant chain; and Spyros P. Skouras, chairman. of 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation."19
Doubtless, the trip was a financial success as Romney did
not even bother to meet with his strongest presidential supporter, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who will
more than likely contribute a few hundred thousand dollars
American Motors and Michigan must seem far behind
now to George Romney, as he stands on the threshold of
becoming a candidate for President of the United States.
The man who entered politics in the 1950's in the guise of
a private citizen wanting to involve all private citizens in
politics, has now locked arms with the small group of
wealthy special interests who can provide the money and
power to propel him to the top. The man. who once opposed
bigness in industry now sits with the kingmaking financial
giants who, Romney hopes; are big enough to bay him the
presidential nomination.
We ordinary Michigan citizens who formed the early
following for this non-political politician are now asking
ourselves what it is about George Romney that makes him
so attractive to the eastern liberal establishment, that it
stands in line to give him jet planes, secret offices, and the
millions of dollars it will ultimately take to make him
Chapter Fifteen
Summer, 1968, and the charter jets begin landing at
Miami Beach. The first touched the ground a little before
11:00 A.M. and there has been a steady stream since. As
the passengers from these special nights disembark, observers do not see the usual collection of businessmen sprinkled
with tourists. Gayly colored banners and signs carry slogans which announce each group's point of origin. The
throngs alight smiling, laughing, and sometimes- singing
among exploding flashbulbs.
As each delegation disembarks and enters the terminal
building they are greeted by a huge, square-jawed face,
looking down on them from a poster ten feet tall. The
three-foot high letters over the poster proclaim, "Romney
for President." At the same moment, twenty-five girls
dressed in blue and white uniforms descend and infiltrate
the delegations, offering buttons and leaflets. The starry-
eyed Romney girls are gratified to see that some delegates
already wear the shiny buttons, "We Want Romney!"
Miami Beach, 1968, and the Republican Party convenes to select its candidate for President of the United
States. For George Romney the event marks the nearing
climax of his dream for the past 6 years , » . 8 years
... 12 years . . . most likely longer.
Miami in the summer of 1968—a long way from the
little village in Mexico where George Romney was born
61 long years ago. But those 61 years were successful
beyond the hopes of most men and gave Ronmey the back-
ground and reputation necessary to propel him to the top  of his party. Still, the George Romney who will stand on the convention floor in Miami is a strange actor in the presidential theatre.                            
In the era where education is foremost in the public mind, Ronmey will stand with but nominal schooling beyond high school. In a generation where the youth of  America all face the draft and possibly going to war, Romney will stand with no military record whatsoever. In the struggle to obtain the highest prize a political party can give, Romney will stand as a man who consciously helped defeat his own party's 1964 presidential nominee.        
Against these drawbacks, Romney matches a singular liability as a salesman and F. propensity for being in the right place at the right time.                    
He took over floundering American Motors just before the public fancy turned to compact cars. He made sure he got all the credit and made his reputation as an industrial genius. He took over near-bankrupt Michigan just before the mid-sixties automobile boom took off. The 33 1/3% jump in the state sales tax level, approved by referendum in 1960 two years before Romney took office, filled the state treasury with unexpected tax revenues. Again he made sure he got all the credit and made his reputation as a politician who could get things done.          
In the summer of 1968, George Romney will be in Miami Beach and Republicans will ask themselves, "Will this be the right place at the right time for Romney again?"
It is to this question—and its implications for America —that this book has been directed.              
Can Romney's temper, so often publicly displayed in chest thumping and lapel ripping, be controlled under the
often exasperating conditions of diplomatic conferences
with other countries? Can the George Romney who took years coming to an opinion on Viet Nam, and then almost
immediately reversed that opinion, make good decisions
under the pressure of an international crisis? Can Rom-
ney, who has tried to run everything he has ever headed
as if it were a corporation he solely owned; curtail his ego
sufficiently to work within the democratic institutions, the
Congress and the Courts of the United States? Will Rom-
ney's double standard on civil rights be acceptable to
America, or to the world? Will Romney's "opposition" to
big government mean the same thing in Washington that
it has m Michigan—doubling of the budget in four years?
Finally, ws must ask ourselves, what is the meaning behind Romney's alliance with the wealthy eastern liberal
wing of the Republican Party?
Over the years George Romney carefully cultivated his
image as an independent man, one immune to pressure
group tactics.
He took the Republican Party label under protest, and
he has continually advocated the building of a citizens
party, one owing no allegiance to special interest groups.
Yet, Romney openly courted the New York establishment
as convention time drew near. Agents of the establishment fill the ranks of his campaign staff.
The story of how the eastern kingmakers' hold over the
Republican Party was finally broken in 1964 after nearly
30 years of uninterrupted control over presidential conventions has been told by many historians of the 1964
elections. The grass roots movement which caused that
hold to be broken was unique and a Barry Goldwater
who could crystallize such a movement, even more unique.
The Republicans who made the movement gave the
Republican Party back to the people. They still control
the numerical majority of the party in spite of the effects
of the eastern wing's efforts at regaining control.
Many of the same Republicans who were in San Francisco in 1964 will be in Miami Beach in 1968. Will they
carefully weigh the record of George Romney? Will they
recognize the man for what he is?
The author, after exhaustive research, feels that the Romney record is one of slavish devotion to personal power, utterly devoid of political,ethical and moral principle. He feels that no other conclusion can be drawn after examination of the record. Will Republicans, and the delegates to the 1968 GOP Convention, draw the same conclusion?
If they do not, George Romney will give them no second chance.
Detroit News, 10/3/61.
Detroit News, 1/12/62.
Detroit News 1/12/62, P. 1A.
State of Michigan, Constitutional Convention, 1961, Official Record, P. 181,
State Journal, 6/1S/61, P. 23.
Detroit News, 1/9/62.
Detroit News, 1/29/S2.
Detroit News, 2/13/62.
Ann Arbor News, 1/21/62,~P. I.
Detroit News, 3/24/62, P. 2A.
Michigan Public Acts, 1965,
Act. No. 380, P. 750.
Gongwer News Service, Inc.
Constitutional Convention Report, No. 103, 3/16/62, P. 1.
Detroit News, 12/S/S8.
Detroit News, 2/5/62.
Detroit Free Press, 2/5/52.        1.
Detroit Free Press. 1/8/64.
Detroit News, 8/26/62.           2
Detroit Free Press, 7/29/62, P.
1A.                              3.
Detroit News, 8/16/62, P. 1A.    4.
Detroit Free Press, 8/16/62.       S.
Detroit News, 3/2S/62.
Detroit Free Press, 8/26/62.       6.
Detroit News, 8/26/62.           7.
/&»d.                             8.
Business Week, 11/17/62, P.    9.
U. S. News and World Report,   10
9/5/66, P. 58.
Shawver, Detroit Free Press,
Grand Rapids Press, 2/16/63.    11.
Copy of the Governors special   12.
message on Elections and Districting, 5/6/64, PP. 1-2.         14.
Detroit News, 5/10/64, P. 1A.   15.
Copy of Romney speech at   16.
Grand Rapids, May 9, 1964.     17.
Detroit News, 5/10/64, P. 3A.   18.
State Journal, 8/2/64.           19.
Letter copy on file.
Detroit News, 4/23/64, P. 3A.
, Ibid.
. Faf-well(Wch.')News, 5/14/64.    1.
, Richmond (Va.) News Leader,
in Chicago Tribune 11/4/64.
V. S. News and, Wcrtd Report,
8/15/66, P. 10.
Friedman, Detroit Free Press,
Statement by Chris Powell,
7/11/67, who was Chairman of  the 19 Congressional District and who refuted the charges.
Author interview on 7/12/67
with David Bradbury of the
Kuhn for Congress organization, where the story was related
substantially as it appears in
the text.                          ••
Detroit Free Press, 7/11/67, P.
Detroit News, 8/28/66.          
Oakland County Circuit Court    
proceedings, Case 28215, PP.  
13-8, 8/2/66.                    .:
Associated Press, Pontiac
(Mich.) Press, 4/19/67.
Letter copy on file.
Detroit News, 6/11/66.
Journal of the Michigan House
of Representatives, 1963, P. 81.
Citizen's Research Council Report, No. 796, 4/27/67, P. 3.
T. Jones, 7/30/67.
Detroit Free Press, 4/27/67, P.
Detroit Free Press, 1/15/6S.
Mount Cicmens (Mich.) Daily
Monitor, 9/12/62.
Citizens Research Council Report, No. 229,3/67, "Tases on
Industry in Michigan Compared
to the Competitor States," P. 2.
Detroit News, 5/24/67.
Detroit Free Press, S/2S/67.
Citizens Research Council Report No. 801,7/20/67.
Detroit News, 7/7/67.
Citizens Research Council Report No. 801, 7/20/67.
Detroit News, 5/18/67.
Detroit N ews, 3/2/67.
U. S. Senate, Hearings before
the Subcommittee on Antitrust
and Monopoly of the Commit-
tee on the Judiciary. "Administered Prices" 85 Cong., 2nd    7.
Sess. P. 2888. (Romney State-    8.
ment. 2/7/58.)                   9.
Z. Mahoney, P. 106.                10.
3. "Administered Prices," P. 2888.   11.
4. Detroit Free Press, 5/21/67.
5. Detroit Free Press, 11/24/6S.      12.
6. V. S. News and World Report.   13.
9/3/66, P. 56.                  14.
7. The Nation, 2/3/62, P. 9S.       IS.
8. The Richardson Digest,           16.
4/28/65.                        17.
9. Ibid.
10. Congressional Record, Appendix-   18.
, 5/5/66, P. A2200.           19.
11. The Richardson Digest, Ibid.      20.
12. Detroit News, 1/15/58, PP.   21.
1A-2A.                        22.
13. New York Times, 9/10/61, Sec.   23,
4, P. 8.                         24.
14. Transcript of Romney Press   25.
conference, 12/15/60, P. 33.      26.
1. Detroit Free Press, 1/4/63.
2. Friedman, Detroit Free Press,
3. Detroit News, 6/20/63.
4. Detroit News, 10/6/66.
5. Detroit Free Press, 10/18/66.
6. Detroit News, 5/2/67.
7. Michigan Chronicle, 5/6/67.
8. Detroit Free Press, 6/30/63.
9. Detroit Free Press, 5/19/67.
10. George Romney and Michigan,
Richard C. Fuller, P. 70.
11. .BooA a/ Mormon 1, Nephi, 2;
Alma, 3.
12. Detroit News, 5/2/67.
13. £331 City (Mich.) Times,
14. Ibid.
15. Detroit Free PRess, 2/21/67,
16. ,Detroit News, 5/3/67.
17. Detroit Free Press, 10/6/66.
IS. The Baltimore (Md.) Sun,
19. Ibid.
20. Detroit Free Press, 5/4/67.
21. Detroit Free Press 10/29/63.
The Nation, 1/30/67.
Detroit News, 11/17/6S.
Time, 7/1/66.
Detroit Free Press, 11/18/65.
Detroit News, 6/13/66.
Congressional Record, Senate
2/24/67, P. S2601.
Detroit Free Press, 11/21/65,
Chicago Tribune, 6/2/65.
Detroit News, 6/5/66.
Detroit Free Press, 6/21/66.
The Hours, Detroit News,
National Observer, 7/9/66.
.Ocfc-oK ^(S-iOi, 9/5/67, P. 2A.
Detroit News, 9/8/67.
Detroit News, 9/11/67.
Detroit Free Press, 9/7/67.
Detroit Free Press, 9/6/67.
Detroit News, 9/10/67.
Detroit News, 9/9/67.
Detroit Free Press, 9/10/67.
National Observer. 7/6/66.       19.
Congressional Record, Senate   20.
2/24/67, P. S2601.              21.
Shannon, Harper's, 2/67, P. 61.
Van Sautet, Detroit Free Press,   22.
Theodore H. White, The Making of the President, 1964, Signet Edition, P. 111.
Author interview with Allan P.
Howell, 1963 State Chairman
of the Michigan Federation of
College Republicans.
Detroit News, 11/19/63.
Author interview with Dr. Tyrone Gillesoie, 6/12/67.
For example, James Reston,
New York Times, 11/22/61, P.
David S. Broder, Washington
Star, 9/16/63.
New York Times. 12/31/63,
P. 7.
National Observer, 1/7/63.
Detroit Free Press, 1/8/64. P.
Engle, Detroit News, 1/12/64.
Detroit Free Press, 1/12/64.
Van G. Sauter, Detroit Free
Press, 3/22/64.
Neio York Times, 3/26/64.
Sauter. 3/22/64.
Detroit News, 4/23/64.
Detroit Daily Press, 9/2/64.
Detroit News, 5/8/64.
Paper. Grand Rapids Press,
Detroit News, 3/9/64.
Detroit Free Press, 5/10/64,
P. 10A.
Letter copy from Romney,
dated 5/25/64.