The Corner

The Ghosts of ’68

“The shadow of [the “brainwashing” quote] looms over every word he’s said.”

Romney was profoundly impacted by how his more gregarious father’s political career was upended in an instant. George Romney, the governor of Michigan, said his early support of the Vietnam War was the result of “brainwashing” by generals. He was obviously speaking in the vernacular, not saying he had lost control of his faculties, but one clumsy comment helped derail his presidential ambitions in 1968.

The father’s setback wounded the son. Mitt Romney has called his father the “”the definition of a successful human.” The centerpiece of the current Romney campaign bus is a large poster of the elder Romney.

As much as he reveres his dad, Romney is determined not to make the same mistake his father did and commit a rhetorical blunder. So he only shows so much of himself, according to those who know him, determined to never have his own “brain-washing” moment.

“The shadow of that looms over every word he’s said,” according to a strategist on the 2008 campaign. “He’s afraid if he slips up, he’ll square the tragedy.” A current adviser echoed the 2008 strategist.

More from Jonathan Martin and John F. Harris here.


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