Willard Mitt Romney, born March 12, 1947 is an American businessman and Republican political figure who was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts (2003 to 2007). He ran for President of the United States in the 2008 election, and is exploring a possible candidacy in the 2012 presidential election.
Romney is the son of George W. Romney (the former Governor of Michigan) and Lenore Romney. He was raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and served as a Mormon missionary in France. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University, then earned joint Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. Romney entered the management consulting business which led to a position at Bain & Company, eventually serving as its CEO to lead it out of crisis. He was also co-founder and head of the spin-off company Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm which became highly profitable and one of the largest such firms in the nation. He ran as the Republican candidate in the 1994 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts but lost to incumbent Ted Kennedy. Romney organized and steered the 2002 Winter Olympics as President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, and helped turn the troubled Games into a financial success.
Romney won the election for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002, but did not seek reelection in 2006. During his term, he presided over a series of spending cuts and increases in fees while the state's finances improved. He signed into law the landmark Massachusetts health care reform legislation, which provided near-universal health insurance access via subsidies and state-level mandates. During the course of his political career, his positions or rhetorical emphasis shifted more towards American conservatism in several areas, though his stances on many other issues have been consistent; this process continued with Romney becoming a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. In that contest, he won several caucus and primary contests, but ultimately lost to John McCain. Since then he has published a book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, and also given speeches and raised campaign funds on behalf of fellow Republicans.
On April 11, 2011, Romney announced that he had started an exploratory committee for a presidential campaign, and on June 2, 2011, he officially announced that he would run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination; political observers and public opinion polls place him as a front-runner for the nomination.
Romney was born in Detroit, Michigan. He is the youngest child of George W. Romney, a man of humble upbringing who by 1948 had become an automobile executive, and Lenore Romney (née LaFount). His mother was a native of Logan, Utah and his father had been born in Mexico to American parents. The three siblings before him were Margo Lynn, Jane LaFount, and G. Scott, followed by Mitt after a gap of six years. Romney was named after hotel magnate J. Willard Marriott, his father's best friend, and his father's cousin Milton "Mitt" Romney, 1925–1929 quarterback for the Chicago Bears.
When Mitt was five, the family moved from Detroit to the affluent suburb of Bloomfield Hills. His father became CEO of American Motors and turned the company around from the brink of bankruptcy; by the time Mitt was twelve, his father had become a nationally known figure in print and on television. Mitt idolized him, read automotive trade magazines and kept abreast of automotive developments, and aspired to be an executive in the industry himself one day. His father also presided over the Detroit Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to which the family belonged.
Mitt went to public elementary schools and then from seventh grade on, attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, a private boys preparatory school of the classic mold where he was the lone Mormon and where many students came from even more privileged backgrounds. He was not particularly athletic and at first did not excel at academics. While a sophomore, Mitt participated in the campaign in which his father was elected Governor of Michigan. George Romney was re-elected twice; Mitt worked for him as an intern in the governor's office, and was present at the 1964 Republican National Convention when his moderate father battled conservative party nominee Barry Goldwater over issues of civil rights and ideological extremism. Mitt did not flaunt the connection with his father to his friends nor trade in on his name to gain advantages for himself. Mitt had a steady set of chores and worked summer jobs, including being a security guard at a Chrysler plant.
Initially a manager for the ice hockey team and a pep squad member, during his final year at Cranbook, Romney joined the cross country running team and improved academically, but was still not a star pupil. His social skills were strong, however, and he won an award for those "whose contributions to school life are often not fully recognized through already existing channels. Romney enjoyed partying and was known as a kinetic kid who loved to pull off non-malicious pranks. In March of his senior year, he began dating Ann Davies, two years behind him, whom he had once known in elementary school; she attended the private Kingswood School, the sister school to Cranbrook. The two informally agreed to marriage around the time of his June 1965 graduation.