Fri 23 Mar, 2012 10:06 am
The Real Romney
by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman
Publication Date: January 17, 2012
Mitt Romney has masterfully positioned himself as the front-runner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Even though he’s become a household name, the former Massachusetts governor remains an enigma to many in America, his character and core convictions elusive, his record little known. Who is the man behind that sweep of dark hair, distinguished white sideburns, and high-wattage smile? He often seems to be two people at once: a savvy politician, and someone who will simply say anything to win. A business visionary, and a calculating dealmaker. A man comfortable in his faith and with family, and one who can have trouble connecting with average voters.
In this definitive, unflinching biography by Boston Globe investigative reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, readers will finally discover the real Romney. The book explores Romney’s personal life, his bond with his wife and how they handled her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, and his difficult years as a Mormon missionary in France, where a fatal car crash had a profound effect on his path. It also illuminates Romney’s privileged upbringing in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; his rejection of the 1960s protest culture; and his close but complicated relationship with his father.
Based on more than five years of reporting and hundreds of interviews, The Real Romney includes a probing analysis of Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, one of the world’s leading private investment firms, where staggering profits were won through leveraged buyouts that helped create jobs but also destroyed them. This penetrating portrait offers important new details, too, on Romney’s failed Senate race against Ted Kennedy, his role leading the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics, and his championing of universal health care in Massachusetts. Drawing on previously undisclosed campaign memos, e-mails, and interviews with key players, Kranish and Helman reveal the infighting and disagreement that sunk Romney’s 2008 White House bid—and his conscious decision to switch tactics for his 2012 run.
In The Real Romney, Kranish and Helman delve searchingly into the psyche of a complex man now at his most critical juncture—the private Romney whom few people see. They show the remarkable lengths to which Romney has gone in order to succeed in politics and business, shrewdly shifting identities as needed, bringing tough-minded strategy to every decision, and always carefully safeguarding his public image. For the first time, readers will gain a full understanding of the kind of man Romney is—the kind of man who may be running their country.
“Kranish and Helman have done a good job of finding and interviewing people who knew Romney at various early stages of his life. . . . They deserve credit for a well-balanced and thorough campaign biography.” (The Washington Independent Review of Books )
“Balanced and rigorous reporting on Romney’s life and career. . . . The authors are especially good on his close relationship with his father, a three-term Michigan governor who unsuccessfully ran for president in 1968.” (USA Today )
“A comprehensive and eminently fair-minded biography of the GOP’s fitful frontrunner.” (The New Republic )
“A fascinating story [that] sheds new light on an elusive subject. . . . It illustrates well how in his private life and in business, he has relied on a tight, protective circle all his life.” (The Financial Times )
“The Real Romney lays out Romney’s story in full and clear detail, including fascinating in-depth stuff about his family’s history, showing us a Romney for whom family and faith remain unshakable pillars and who knows that his ‘power-ally is money.’” (The Los Angeles Times )
“The Real Romney pulls together lots of details into a narrative that’s absorbing and fair-minded.” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times )
“A timely, balanced new biography. . . . An impressively researched and thought-provoking portrait of a man many Americans may want to know more about in the coming weeks and months.” (The Boston Globe )
“The writers have thoroughly trawled through the would-be-president’s history. The book charts the various stages of Romney’s polymorphic life in impressive detail. . . . All this is well done. The analysis of Romney’s time at Bain is balanced and fair.” (The Economist )
“Kranish and Helman are veteran and well-regarded reporters. . . . They give a comprehensive account of the Bain years -- the greatest contribution of their book.” (Michael Tomasky, The New York Review of Books )
“Kranish and Helman have assembled a genuinely compelling story and a more thorough record of Romney’s life than has yet appeared.” (The Washington Post )
About the Author
Michael Kranish, deputy chief of the Washington Bureau of The Boston Globe, has been a congressional reporter, a White House correspondent, and a national political reporter. Kranish coauthored, with other Globe reporters, John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography. He is also the author of Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War.
Frederick S. Goethel "wildcatcreekbooks" (Central Valley, CA)
The authors, two reporters for a large New England newspaper, have written the most definitive biography of Mitt Romney that I have seen to date. Several book were written about Romney prior to the 2008 election, but none were nearly as complete nor did any have a true history of his life.
Beginning with Romney's ancestors, and proceeding to this day, the authors cover almost every aspect of Romney's life. He has, by all measures, led a pretty good life without the challenges that most people face as they go through life. He was in a severe automobile wreck when he was serving on his Mormon mission, but short of that, his life has been good to Mitt.
While reading the biography, it struck me that there are really three distinct Mitt Romney's. One side is the Mitt Romney that his wife, kids and friends know at home, one is the distinct "work" Mitt that is known to fellow workers and colleagues and then there is the "Mormon Church" Mitt that fellow members of his faith see when he is in leadership positions within the church. Each is different and distinct from the others, and makes figuring out the real Mitt a challenge.
When Romney is at home, he is a loving father who is devoted to his wife and children. He also appears to have fun, leaves his work at the office and is a prankster. He has no problem going on vacation and relaxing when it is appropriate. The fact that he is still strongly in love with his wife after over 40 years speaks volumes about him as a family man and he deserves credit for that. In addition, he is giving and regularly helped neighbors who had problems, without seeking any attention or credit for his actions.
The work Romney is a different creature: he is driven, focused like a laser light on success and surrounds himself with talented people. He is extremely data driven and only makes decisions after completely crunching and mulling over the numbers. He is somewhat risk averse and is not a person to act on the spur of the moment. He also enjoys the roll of making the final decision. Tellingly, he didn't undertake the usual politics when he was governor of Massachusetts. Almost all politicians know that to survive and be successful in such a position, you need to know the other side and work towards compromise. That wasn't Romney. He didn't want to know the other side, and he acted as though he were the CEO of the State. He seemed to forget that there was a legislature that he had to work with, and by many accounts, he got little accomplished in his time in the State House for that very reason. In addition, he had a history of being one sided that was beginning to catch up with him near the end of his term. This is also the Romney that many people saw in Salt Lake City when he worked to get the Olympic Games back on track.
Finally, there is the Romney people see when he is in a leadership position in his church, which was the case for a number of years. He is considered to have strong faith and worked hard in his "spare" time for the church. Most disturbing about his church time appears to be his lack of questioning or thought about the tenants of the church. There is some leeway with church doctrine in certain cases, but Romney appears to have taken the strongest, simplest line with the doctrine and not varied, although he had that power. For instance, the church allows for abortion in several narrowly defined areas, including rape, incest, when the life of the mother is in jeopardy or when it is believed the baby will not survive the birth. Yet, when a member of the church need guidance on an abortion issue, where her life was threatened, Romney stuck to the strict side of the doctrine and warned her she could be excommunicated. There didn't appear to be any thought or human emotion put into the decision. He read the book, and followed it to the letter.
As a result, we have three fairly distinct personalities and one must wonder which one we will get if he is elected president. Or, will is be an amalgamation of all three depending on the circumstances? I guess that is up to the reader and voter to decide.
I highly recommend this book to all voters. It is always important to be informed when voting, and this is the least biased and most honest biography one could hope for. It will allow the voter to decide if Romney is presidential material or not and allow the reader to judge any statements Romney makes against his past record.