KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Just hours after he concluded a speech in Detroit by listing off the number of cars he owns, Mitt Romney highlighted the frugality of his father, telling a crowd gathered at a town hall that he remembers his dad searching for a cheap burial plot.
"We were in Detroit this morning," he told the crowd at Western Michigan University, "at the Detroit economic club, and then through Mt. Clemens, then drove here across the interstate. Drove past Brighton."
"My parents' grave sites are there. My dad, trust my dad. My dad is a very frugal man. He checked all over for where the best deal was on a grave site. And he found a place in Brighton."
Romney's father, George Romney, served as the governor of Michigan in the 1960s. He died in 1995.
"Because we didn't live in Brighton, it's like, 'How did you pick Brighton, Dad?'"
"'Well, best price I could find in the whole state.' So if you're looking for the best deal on a grave site, check Brighton. Got a good, got a good spot, and you're near the former governor and the former first lady," Romney said.
Romney took several questions from the crowd, including one from a woman in the audience who sounded irritated when she said she had received nine robocalls this week alone. Her question posed the strongest challenge of the night to Romney on his record on social issues, particularly his stance on abortion.
"I have received nine phone calls - nine of them," she said. "And I have to admit I don't remember the content…but basically it was questioning the integrity of one of the candidates that you're running against, Rick Santorum. Now my question, Governor Romney, is why should we regard you as a man of high standards and integrity when you have flip- flopped on your position regarding the sanctity of life? You turned your back on your Mormon religion's pro-life stance, just like Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi did betray their Catholic faith, and you ran as a pro-choice candidate for the Senate in Massachusetts and you lost."
Before launching into his usual response about his history of having changed from a pro-choice candidate to a pro-life one during his term as governor of Massachusetts, Romney joked, "I'm disappointed to hear you received nine calls. You should have received a lot more than that."
"By the way, Ronald Reagan was pro-choice before he became pro-life," he said, defending his own course of evolving beliefs. "George Herbert Walker Bush was pro-choice and then became pro-life. Henry Hyde was pro-choice and then became pro-life. And I'm not even sure if there are some others you mentioned who I think also long ago may have been pro-choice as well and then became pro-life. We need people who recognize that pro-life is the way to go and we're getting more and more people joining our cause as time goes on."