BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. Mitt Romney was 22 when his father came to him and his siblings in search of political advice in December 1969. George Romney, the former Michigan governor, was mulling the electoral prospects of another Romney: his wife, Lenore.

A onetime Hollywood starlet who quit acting to get married, Lenore Romney had few political credentials. But she had been a popular first lady, and her husband was tied up in Washington as President Richard M. Nixons new housing secretary. Top Michigan Republicans were wooing her to run for a United States Senate seat.

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