Why George Romney Didn’t Run

In response to:

Willard Mitt Romney from the February 23, 2012 issue

To the Editors:

In the first paragraph of his otherwise typically excellent article on Mitt Romney [NYR, February 23], Michael Tomasky made a statement that puzzled me. Concerning events of 1964, he wrote that Michigan Governor George Romney’s commitment to “serve four years” made a presidential run that year out of the question.

Prior to 1966, Michigan governors served two-year terms. George Romney won reelection in the same November 1964 election in which Lyndon Johnson carried Michigan by a very large margin. Although I was too young to vote at the time, I admired our governor for his principles in distancing himself from Goldwater. In retrospect, and in a more cynical era, it is apparent that he did not lack a pragmatic reason for doing so.

Daniel Frohardt
Professor and Chair
Department of Mathematics Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan

Michael Tomasky replies:

Mr. Frohardt is correct—gubernatorial terms in Michigan were two years then, and George Romney sought reelection in 1964. According to Dan Angel’s Romney: A Political Biography (1967), Romney detested Barry Goldwater and considered seeking the GOP nomination that year. He dropped some hints and said he would accept a draft, but he determined in early June that he didn’t have the support of enough Republican governors and that momentum for a draft did not exist.