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George Romney, born on polygamist colony, touted as immigrant success

Published August 30, 2012 7:48 pm

Politics • Romney son reaches out to Hispanics with tale of immigrant grandfathers.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mitt Romney's son, Craig Romney, made an unusual pitch to Latino voters Thursday, drawing on his late grandfather, George Romney, born into a Mexican polygamist colony, as an example of immigrant success.

"It's easy to forget that the story of my father's success begins with the story of two immigrants — my grandfathers — who came to this country with little more than hope in the opportunity of America," Craig Romney said in his speech to the Republican National Convention.

The Romney family's polygamous roots are deep and include some of the most prominent families in the fledgling Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The faith officially banned polygamy in 1890.

Mitt Romney's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, was a Mormon polygamist with five wives, who fled to Mexico to escape a crackdown on the practice of polygamy in the late-1800s and established a settlement there.

George Romney was born to parents who were not polygamous in Mexico in 1907, but returned to the United States when George Romney was 5 years old to escape the Mexican Revolution. He went on to become the head of American Motors and governor of Michigan.

George Romney ran for president in 1968 and was eligible to serve — despite a constitutional ban on foreign-born presidents — because his parents were U.S. citizens.

Ann Davies was born to Edward Davies, who emigrated from Wales and founded a company that built heavy machinery and married Mitt Romney in 1968.

"Through [the grandparents'] hard work and perseverance they lived the American dream, and gave opportunities to their children they wouldn't have had anywhere else," Craig Romney said Thursday night.

He presented his grandfathers' story as an overture to Latino voters — a growing demographic where the Romney campaign trails badly.

"We're seeing this story play out in the lives of many other Hispanic Americans who have become leaders in the Republican Party and throughout our nation," Craig Romney said. "These leaders, along with Hispanics across the country, will play a vital role in the Romney-Ryan comeback, as we fight to put America back on the path to prosperity." 8