Romney son driving 'Mitt Mobile' to Iowa

Salt Lake resident will spend summer on the campaign trail

Published: Friday, June 8 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

Josh Romney is driving a motor home from Salt Lake City to Iowa to help with the campaign.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News

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It wasn't hard to spot which of the genteel homes in Salt Lake City's Harvard-Yale neighborhood belongs to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's son, Josh — there was the 30-foot motor home squeezed into the driveway earlier this week.

But the oversize vehicle dubbed the "Mitt Mobile" wasn't parked for long in the area known for brick Tudor houses, manicured lawns and quiet, tree-lined streets. With Josh, 31, behind the wheel, the motor home was headed to Iowa today.

There, the only one of Mitt Romney's five offspring living in Utah plans to spend much of the summer campaigning for his father, making stops in all of Iowa's 99 counties before that state's Republican straw poll on Aug. 11.

Once in Iowa, the motor home — a used Winnebago chosen because it was manufactured there as well as for its low price — will be transformed with a red, white and blue wrapping featuring the flag and the candidate's name in giant letters.

Meantime, Josh is getting some much-needed practice piloting what's still a plain beige box on wheels. His limited experience driving a motor home came after he purchased the two-year-old vehicle on eBay and had to get it to Salt Lake from Phoenix overnight.

After all, Josh said, accidentally cutting off another driver or committing just about any other traffic violation in a vehicle clearly identifiable with the campaign could cost his father votes. Especially if it's in the "Mitt Mobile."

"I have to be pretty careful now that I have a Mitt Romney bumper sticker on my car," Josh said during an interview in the motor home before leaving Salt Lake. "I can't imagine how bad it's going to be in this thing once it's wrapped."

As one of the "Five Brothers" campaigning for their father, Josh is used to the attention. Already, the real-estate developer said he is recognized in Iowa, where he's been making appearances on behalf of his father since the beginning of the year.

The family name is certainly well-known in Utah, where Mitt Romney is credited with taking the 2002 Winter Olympics from scandal to success. And so is the face — like his brothers, Josh looks a lot like his father.

The campaign is not shy about using all of the brothers to court voters. They all have their own MySpace pages and even their own blog at fivebrothers.mittromney.com, where they report from the campaign trail as well as on family activities.

"People can get to know more about the family and how important the family is to us. Hopefully it's a way for them to get insight into what kind of man my father is," Josh said of the brothers' participation in the campaign. "We're not perfect, but we all did pretty well."

All of the brothers attended Brigham Young University, like their father. Three, Josh, Tagg and Matt, also graduated from Harvard Business School; one, Ben, is in medical school; and the youngest, 25-year-old Craig, is a music producer in New York City.

Josh, though, is the only son living in Utah. He, his wife, Jen, and their three children — Grace, 4, Wyatt, 2, and Owen, 7 months — moved here two years ago and Josh went to work for his father's longtime friend, Utah developer Kem Gardner.

The young family considers Utah home and have tried to persuade some of the other brothers to join them without success — so far. They intend to stay put, Josh said, even if his father is elected in November 2008.

What would be different about his life if his father becomes president? "Probably nothing. If you know my dad, he's not going to give me a position," Josh said. "Mostly, it'd be great to watch. Hopefully I'd get some visits to the White House."

The election, though, is still more than a year away, and there are still a lot of miles to be traveled in Iowa. The state has long been seen as key to the campaign because of the straw poll and January's caucus vote, the kickoff to the presidential primary season.

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