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George Romney's influence on son Mitt remains significant

Published: Monday, Nov. 28 2011 4:53 p.m. MST

Mitt Romney's father is gone, but George Romney's influence on his son's presidential ambitions remains powerful more than 40 years after his 1968 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, according to a new article in the Washington Post.

Although their politics evolved differently, the principles Mitt learned from George formed the central axis for his life. The lessons passed down from the father include "a near-ascetic discipline to a low-key approach for defusing skeptics' suspicions about their religion to the political principles that would shape the younger Romney's life."

Their relationship went beyond mentorship, however. Genuine affection, interest in sharing ideas, and a bond of trust also characterized their interactions.

The senior Romney delighted in having his teenage son around. "'They would hug upon meeting, and not just any hug,'" George Romney's press secretary, Dick Milliman, told the Globe in 2008. "'He would give Mitt a big bear hug and a kiss.'"

When visiting George's offices, a teenage Mitt occasionally sat in on meetings. When he had something to add, "He would chime in, 'Have you thought about this?'" Milliman said. George's willingness to include Mitt was a function of his high opinion of his son's ideas and abilities. "It was not just a father-son bond, but a partnership," Milliman said.

Their bond of trust was demonstrated by the way George Romney looked out for Ann Davies, Mitt's girlfriend, while Mitt served a mission for the LDS Church in France, family friend Richard Eyre told Post reporter Michael Leahy. Eyre, a regular contributor to the Deseret News, then served as an advisor to George Romney's presidential campaign. Even in the midst of the campaign, George took out time to escort Ann to services, answer her questions about their faith and was on hand to baptize her a member of the church when she was ready, Eyre said.

EMAIL: mwhite@desnews.com

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