For Romney…With Love and Squalor

Dec 15, 2011 3:43pm

The day after his ill-conceived $10,000 wager at the ABC News debate, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney told attendees at a Hudson, NH, town hall meeting that about his more modest days as a Mormon missionary in France.

“You see these Mormon missionaries that drive around on bicycles with the little tags on their shirt,” Romney said, according to the Boston Globe.  “And, you know, I grew up in a home with a great deal of affluence, my parents had done very well. My dad had grown up poor and he wanted us to work very hard, but as an American I had everything I needed. And I was asked to go off by my church to go off and live in France.”

“You know, you’re not living high on the hog at that kind of level,” said Romney, who acknowledged that France was not “a third-world country: but painted a rather stark picture. “So I lived with people in France who lived very modestly. A number of the apartments I lived in while I was there didn’t have toilets. We had instead little pads on the ground, you know how that works. There was a chain behind you with a bucket, it was a bucket affair. I had not experienced one of those in the United States.”

“Most of the apartments I lived in had no shower, or bathtub. In some cases, there were buildings that had showers. You go in, you pay a couple of Francs and you could get a shower,” he added. “We’d do that once a week. Or if we were lucky, we actually bought a hose and we stuck it on the sink and we’d hold it there with the hose and the big bucket underneath us in the kitchen and wash ourselves that way. I said to myself, ‘Wow. I sure am lucky to have been born in the United States of America,’” Romney said. “I began to appreciate the freedoms and the gifts that come by virtue of having been in this country.”

But today the UK’s Daily Telegraph paints a different picture of Romney’s time in gay Paris, writing that “a significant portion of his 30-month mission in a Paris mansion described by fellow American missionaries to The Daily Telegraph as a “palace”. It featured stained glass windows, chandeliers, and an extensive art collection. It was staffed by two servants – a Spanish chef and a houseboy. Although he spent time in other French cities, for most of 1968, Mr Romney lived in the Mission Home, a 19th century neoclassical building in the French capital’s chic 16th arrondissement. ‘It was a house built by and for rich people,’ said Richard Anderson, the son of the mission president at the time of Mr Romney’s stay. ‘I would describe it as a palace.”

-Jake Tapper

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