Actual Grit

The window to the world

Mitt Romney’s Dirt

Mitt Romney burst onto the political scene as a conservative pretty boy that no one had heard of before. It turns out that no one heard of him because he wasn’t conservative until this race. OTHER POLITICIANS look at this guy and say, “Wow, that guy is a phony, two-faced, flip-flopping weasel.” And that’s really saying something.


“Buenos dias!” — Mitt Romney’s regular greeting to the illegal Guatemalan immigrants who work on his lawn

“Aw, geez.” — Romney to a reporter who asked him about the lawn workers. He then walked away.

“The real Romney is clearly an extraordinarily ambitious man with no perceivable political principle whatsoever. He is the most intellectually dishonest human being in the history of politics.” – Barney Frank

“I’m a normal person. I have emotions.” — Mitt Romney, protesting too much.

“The more Mitt Romney speaks, the less believable he becomes. He has spent a year trying to convince Granite Staters that he is trustworthy. It looks like they aren’t buying it. And for good reason.” – the Manchester Union-Leader newspaper, New Hampshire’s most conservative newspaper

“If a candidate is a phony, we (in New Hampshire) assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we’ll know it. Mitt Romney is such a candidate. New Hampshire Republicans and independents must vote no.” — The Concord Monitor, New Hampshire’s most liberal paper

“I’m not a big-game hunter. I’ve made that very clear. I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times.” — Mitt Romney, failing.

“It wasn’t as though I was suicidal, but I was at the point where I thought, ‘Couldn’t I please just have cancer and die?'” — Ann Romney, his wife, about her multiple sclerosis. (She is currently symptom-free.)

Phony “Varmint” Hunter

Back when he was liberal, Romney supported the Brady Bill, assault weapons bans and Massachusetts’ very strict gun control law. Now that he’s running as a conservative Republican, Romney has claimed that the NRA endorsed him in previous campaigns. (Oops — that was easily proven to be a lie. His Democratic opponent actually had a better NRA rating.)

He also claimed he was a “lifelong hunter”, though he didn’t own a gun, has never had a hunting license and had only joined the NRA in August 2006 — as a “Lifetime Member” — just about exactly the moment he started campaigning for President.

When pressed on that, his “lifelong hunting” turned out to be a total of two hunts — one as a teenager, hunting rabbits with his cousin in Idaho, and one just about the time he started running for president, chasing fenced-in quail at a Republican fundraising event.

His explanation was even funnier — “I’m not a BIG-GAME hunter. I’ve made that very clear,” he said. “I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times.”

Illegally Impersonating Police Officers

The most bizarre scandal of Romney’s campaign involves Jay Garrity, Mitt’s director of operations (basically, his right-hand man.) Garrity resigned from the campaign after several allegations that he claimed to be a policeman, and used that authority to intimidate people.

In one case, Garrity pulled over a New York Times reporter, ran his plates and ordered him to stop following the campaign caravan. In another, he allegedly called a plumbing company to complain about one of their employees, whose driving upset him, and identified himself as “Trooper Garrity of the Massachusetts State Police.” Garrity denied that allegation, but he was cited by Boston police in 2004 for having police equipment — including flashing lights — in his Crown Victoria sedan without authorization. The phone call was recorded because an answering service actually fielded the call, which the person who called himself “Trooper Garrity” apparently didn’t notice.

Despite his resignation, Garrity remains under investigation in two states for impersonation of police.

Well, it gets worse. According to three different anonymous sources, one who works for the Romney campaign, Garrity made up fake police badges — bright silver plates with the seal of Massachusetts on them — and gave them to several other staffers, who used them to order reporters and other people out of events, get past security guards, and avoid paying highway tolls. In fact, Garrity has been handing out badges since Romney was governor of Massachusetts.

So this was not just one staffer’s personal fetish. Sources named at least two other Romney staffers who used the badges — Mark Glanville and William Ritter. “They knew the badges were fake and probably illegal,” the campaign source said. In fact, Garrity was Romney’s right-hand man and rarely left his side. It’s hard to believe that Mitt Romney himself did not notice the fact that Garrity was constantly flashing a police badge as they blew through security into various events. The Romney campaign has not commented on whether Mitt Romney knew about the badges.

Using fake badges is, of course, illegal.

Hired Illegal Immigrants

Romney makes a big issue of being tough on illegal immigrants. He has pushed for a wall on the Mexican border so hard that Bill O’Reilly offered to call it the “Mitt Romney Memorial Wall.”

The only problem is, Romney has hired illegal immigrants to tend his gardens for over 10 years. Three illegal immigrants interviewed by the Boston Globe said they have worked on Romney’s lawn for years, that he greets them with a “Buenos dias”, and that his wife was friendly and often asks how they are. Two were interviewed back in Guatemala, where they have returned. They made $8 to $9 per hour working 11 hour days. “They wanted that house to look really nice,” said one worker, now back in Copado, Guatemala. “It took a long time.” The other, Rene Alvarez Rosales (now in Suchitepequez, Guatemala) said it cost him about $5,000 to have a smuggler take him across the border.

They all work for “Community Lawn Care with a Heart,” a small company run by legal Colombian immigrant Ricardo Saenz. Asked about his workers’ statements that they were illegal immigrants, Saenz said “What you’ve heard is not my problem. … I don’t need to tell them to show me documents. I know who they are, and they are legal.” When Romney was asked about the workers, he said “Aw geez” and walked away. On one occasion, a (real) state trooper with the Romney security detail asked about the workers’ immigration status. Saenz said they were legal but forgot their papers that day, and the matter was dropped.

Flat-Out Liar

In this campaign, Romney has simply lied a number of times while trying to reinvent himself. For example:

— “I have a gun of my own.”
(Not true. He was talking about a gun one of his grown sons own.)

— “I’ve been a hunter pretty much my entire life.”
(He hunted once at 15, and a second time in his late 50s.)

— “I told you what my position was, and what I, what I did as governor; the fact that I received the endorsement of the NRA.”
(No – and his Democratic opponent actually had a higher NRA rating)

— “I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.”
(No, they never marched together. They were both in Michigan at the same time once, but Mitt was in France on his mission.)

— “My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit.”
(even more false…)

This last lie was the funnest because of all the waffling that Romney did trying to explain it. After a Boston newspaper showed that they couldn’t have marched together, Mitt’s spokesman said that “George W. Romney and Martin Luther King Jr. marched together in June, 1963 — although possibly not on the same day or in the same city.” And Mitt then explained “I’ve tried to be as accurate as I can be. If you look at the literature or look at the dictionary, the term ‘saw’ includes being aware of — in the sense I’ve described. I’m an English literature major as well. When we say I saw the Patriots win the World Series, it doesn’t necessarily mean you were there — excuse me, the Super Bowl. I saw my dad become president of American Motors. Did that mean you were there for the ceremony? No, it’s a figure of speech.”

Draft Dodger and Chickenhawk

Mitt Romney, incredibly, was able to avoid serving in Vietnam because he was on his Mormon mission, driving around the French countryside. (The Mormon church defined missions — which all good young Mormon men go on — as a form of priesthood.) In fact, not one of Romney’s five sons has served in the military either, despite Mitt arguing for U.S. military involvement in Iraq and elsewhere.

Even more outrageously, when he was asked to justify this hypocrisy, Romney claimed that his sons were serving the country by driving Winnebagos around Iowa and campaigning for him.


“Fake Cop Sources”

“Romney aide, targeted in probe, takes leave of absence”, by Stephanie Ebbert, Boston Globe, June 22, 2007

“Romney aide’s bogus badges: Sources detail ‘illegal’ security tactic””,By Casey Ross, Boston Herald, July 20, 2007

“Romney Aide Resigns”,By Sarah Wheaton, New York Times — The Caucus Blog, July 21, 2007

“Liar Sources”

“Romney Aims Again to Explain Hunting — Republican Presidential Hopeful Romney Takes Second Shot at Explaining His Hunting Experience”, by Emily Udell, Associated Press on ABC-News web site, April 6, 2007

“Guns, trust, and Romney, By Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe, April 8, 2007

“The Trail: Romney Claims NRA Endorsement He Didn’t Receive,” by Michael D. Shear, Washington Post, December 16, 2007

“Did Romney Actually See His Dad March With MLK?”, by Scott Conroy, CBS-News website, December 20, 2007, 2:03 PM

“Romney never saw father on King march – Defends figurative words; evidence contradicts story“, by Michael Levenson, Boston Globe, December 21, 2007

“Illegal Immigrant Sources”

“Romney aide is the focus of probe – Allegedly acted as State Police trooper”, By Stephanie Ebbert and Scott Helman, Boston Globe, June 22, 2007

“Illegal immigrants toiled for governor: Guatemalans say firm hired them”, by Jonathan Saltzman, Maria Cramer and Connie Page, Boston Globe, December 1, 2006

“Romney’s lawn firm draws new scrutiny: Massport, Chelsea eye workers’ legal status”, By Jonathan Saltzman and Maria Cramer, the Boston Globe, December 2, 2006

“Quote Sources”

“Ann Romney Criticized for Cancer Comment “ABC-News Political Radar, July 31, 2007

“Congressman Frank blasts the ‘real Romney’”, Boston Herald, Monday, June 11th, 2007

“Candidate Has Another Teary Moment”, By Michael Levenson, Boston Globe, December 19, 2007

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