Romney's Mexican Cousins are Rooting for "el Primo" Tonight

PHOTO: Mitt Romneys Mexican cousins decorate the walls of their homes with portraits of family members. The candidates relatives say that Romneys roots in Mexico have made this a special election for them.Manuel Rueda/ABC-Univision
Mitt Romney's Mexican cousins decorate the walls of their homes with portraits of family members. The candidate's relatives say that Romney's roots in Mexico have made this a special election for them.

They live in quiet neighborhoods with wide driveways and neatly cropped lawns. Enter their homes, and you will find a decorative tray of pumpkins, and the ocassional turkey figure greeting you, as if you were there for Thanksgiving dinner.

They are Mitt Romney's Mexican cousins, a group of some 50 distant relatives of the presidential candidate who are following the elections tonight from the municipality of Casas Grandes, in Mexico's Chihuaha state.

Their homes, decked with family portraits, and signs in English with messages like "Family" or "Give Thanks," make you feel like you are in a peaceful, conservative town in the Midwest.

An imitation 1930s radio in Ken Romney's home, with a sign that reminds people to pray.

But these houses are actually located on the edge of Mexico's Chihuahua desert, in an area of the country that has recently seen a large dose of drug related violence.

We wanted to know more about what these Romneys think about the U.S. elections, and how the outcome would affect Casas Grandes, an agicultural area near the border inhabited by some 600 Mormons of American descent.

So we headed to Casas Grandes and contacted some of Los Romneys Mexicanos.

Ken Romney was the first to let us into his home. Like Mitt, he is a descendant of Miles Park Romney, the Mormon patriarch who settled the Casas Grandes area in 1895 as he fled religious persecution in the U.S.

Ken Romney, voted via absentee ballot. He thinks Romney is better prepared to deal with the economic problems in the U.S.

Miles reportedly had 30 children, including Ken's Grandfather, Miles Archibald, and Mitt's Grandfather, Gaskell Romney.

This connection means that Ken is Mitt Romney's second cousin.

"Mitt Romney's a distant relative, and there's probably hundreds of second cousins that are a bit closer to him," said Ken, who has never spoken to the presidential candidate.

"But if Mitt wins the election if he's able to turn the economy around, reduce the debt and create more jobs, which he said he will do, it will create more jobs for us, [in Mexico]" the 67-year-old added, in flawless American-accented English.

Ken makes a living by distributing agricultural products that he imports from the U.S, like boxes for apples. He was also running a factory that exported fishing lures to the U.S, but it had to shut down a month ago because of the lack of demand up north.

With a book on Mitt Romney's life sitting in his lap and a poster of the Romney campaign lying around nearby, Ken told us that his cousin had what it takes, to fix the U.S. economy.

"He has business experience," Ken said. "He was very successful with Bain capital, and he turned around the Salt Lake City Olympics."

Perhaps by now, you're wondering how it is that Mitt was not born in Mexico like Ken. The reason for this is that Mitt's grandfather, Gaskell, fled from the country in the violent days of the Mexican revolution, along with his 30 brothers and sisters.

Ken Romney's grandfather Miles Archibald, was the only member of the Romney clan who returned to Mexico after things calmed down.

"He was the eldest son [of Miles Park Romney]" Ken said. "All the Romneys who are left here, are descendants of Miles Archibald."

Another descendant of Miles Archibald who is currently living in Mexico is Clayton Neilsen Romney, a 43-year-old cattle rancher and father of five.

Clayton and his wife Shawna hold dual citizenship. On Tuesday they drove 150 miles from Casas Grandes to Santa Teresa, New Mexico, in order to cast their ballot.

Clayton Nielsen Romney and wife Shawna Jones headed across the border to cast their vote.

"I like [Mitt Romney's] ideals they're more conservative, they go along with my ideals," said Clayton who regularly attends a Mormon temple in the Casas Grandes area.

"I identify with his beliefs," added Clayton's wife Shawna,"I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and I feel very strongly abut that…also I want a president that's going to protect the rights of an unborn child."

Shawna was born and raised in Casas Grandes. She speaks Spanish and English well, but was more comfortable answering our questions in English, because it is a language in which she better expresses her ideas.

She lives with Clayton in the house where she grew up, and has decorated entire walls of her home with family portraits, a detail we couldn't help but notice.

Shawna has decorated several walls of her home with family portraits and pumpkins for the fall.

A turkey stands by Ken Romney's TV.

"For Mormons, the family is the fundamental pillar of society," Shawna's brother Jeffrey Jones, explained in an interview the following day.

Jones is a former senator for the state of Chihuahua. He argues that Mitt Romney's family history, plays well with the Mormon community in Casas Grandes.

"We believe there should be as much family as possible and as little government as necessary," he said in flawless Spanish as he searched around for old pictures of his house.

Jones lives in the house in which Mitt Romney's father George was born. He says that back in 1968, when George Romney was running for U.S. president, Casas Grandes was also visited by several U.S. journalists, who came to photograph the house.

This is the house where Mitt Romney's father George, lived until he was five. It now belongs to Jeffrey Jones and his family.

Unlike his sister, Jeffrey Jones will not vote on Tuesday. He has never gone through the process of obtaining US citizenship because he did not find it to be "necessary," for what he needs to do in life.

Still, Jones acknowledged that these elections have been rather interesting for him and other residents of Casas Grandes: a presidential candidate has roots here.

"I think the outcome is more or less the same [for Casas Grandes]," Jones said in Spanish. "But it's like watching a soccer match in which you know someone who is playing. It's more interesting like that, then when you don't know who the players are."