Mitt Romney’s roots in politics run in his family. His father George served as the Governor of Michigan from 1963-1969 and later as HUD Secretary in the Nixon Administration. George Romney was a natural and charismatic politician, but the younger Romney perhaps better takes after his mother Lenore, who lacked her husband’s natural political gifts.
Lenore Romney ran for Senate in 1970, and 23-year-old Mitt Romney campaigned during his summer vacation for his mom. Romney appeared in a video made for her campaign. Lenore Romney ran as the moderate in that race and lost in 1970 to popular two term Democratic Senator Philip Hart.
In a 1994 video archived on C-SPAN’s website Romney touted visting all 83 counties in Michigan with his mother during his Senate run as example of where he learned retail politics.
In 2002, Mitt Romney often cited his mother to help describe his pro-choice views. At one gubernatorial debate Romney said:
In 1970 there was a women who ran for U.S. Senate in a conservative Republican state. She took a bold postion, because this was before Roe v. Wade. A postion that she was in favor of choice. She lost, but she did it with great honor and with boldness. She was my mom Lenore Romney. She had strong personal views on the issues which she abided by. She also believed in the separation of church and state, as I do. Let me make this perfectly clear. I will preserve and protect a women’s right to choice and this should no be made a political issue in this campaign.
The influence from Romney’s mother on his political views is unclear. In 2002 Romney cited his parents’ moderate and independent postions often saying his “agenda was different from traditional Republicans” and that he had “a very different view than most Republicans. But Romney’s postions have shifted to the right and his citation of his parent’s moderate postions is nowhere to be found today.