During a convention that spotlighted nine Latino speakers, featured at least four speaking in Spanish and offered an array of Latino-focused events, Mitt Romney touted his own Mexican roots in a autobiographical video broadcast to the Republican National Convention just hours before Romney himself took the stage.
The GOP nominee touted his immigrant grandparents as “refugees of a revolution.” But unlike many of the speakers that came before him, Romney’s grandparents did not seek refuge in America, they fled it.
In 1885, Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled to Mexico to escape America’s anti-polygamy laws. Along with a group of his fellow Mormons, Miles Park Romney, who had four wives and 30 children, settled in Chihuahua, Mexico, where polygamy was still legal.
It was there in Mexico that Mitt Romney’s grandfather, Gaskell Romney, grew up and where his father, George Romney, was born. Gaskell and George Romney moved back to America before Mitt Romney was born to avoid the violence of the Mexican Revolution.
While Romney does not often mention his Mexican roots, his son, Craig, who is fluent in Spanish, touted his father’s bi-cultural past in a Spanish-language campaign ad.
“He greatly values that we are a nation of immigrants,” Craig Romney said in the ad. “My grandfather, George, was born in Mexico. For my family, the greatness of America is how we all respect each other and help one another.”
But while the GOP convention video plugged Romney’s Mexican roots and the Romney campaign touted his father’s heritage in a Spanish-language campaign ad, the candidate himself said it would “disingenuous” to consider him a Mexican-American.
“I don’t think people would think I was being honest with them if I said I was Mexican-American,” Romney said during a Univision interview in January. “My dad was born in Mexico and I’m proud of my heritage, but he was born of U.S. citizens who were living in Mexico at the time. He was not Hispanic. He never spoke Spanish nor did his parents, so I can’t claim that honor.”