Five Things You Probably Don't Know About Mitt Romney's Mom

Mitt Romney's mom, Lenore Romney, was a homemaker but also so much more...

ByABC News
May 10, 2012, 5:48 PM

May 11, 2012 -- intro: As the country celebrates Mothers' Day this weekend, Mitt Romney's campaign is putting his wife, Ann, out front and center.

On Wednesday, she penned an Op-Ed urging Americans to "cherish" their mothers and reflecting on the joys of being a mom. And the pro-Romney Super PAC sang her praises in a television ad this week, while stoking the coals of the "Mommy Wars" ignited after Democratic Strategist Hillary Rosen quipped that Mrs. Romney of had "never worked a day in her life."

But while the country is beginning to be inundated with information about Romney's wife, few facts have emerged about his mother.

Here's a look at five facts about Mitt's mom, Lenore Romney, that you probably haven't heard.

quicklist: 1title: She Ran for Senatetext: A year after her husband's failed presidential bid, Lenore Romney decided to make her own name in the political arena, jumping into the Michigan Senate race in 1970.

Throughout her campaign she struggled to escape the shadow of her husband, who had served three terms as Michigan governor. In a 30-minute campaign video George Romney insisted that "she's on her own," despite her rivals' claims that she was a "stand in" for the former governor.

After a long-fought primary battle, Lenore Romney was shellacked in the general election by incumbent Democrat Phillip Hart, losing 67 percent to 33 percent.

In her concession speech she lamented that her gender worked against her in her senatorial bid. At the time, Romney would have been only the third woman ever elected to serve a full Senate term.

"It was disappointing to find that so many people closed their minds just because I was a woman," Romney said after her loss.

quicklist: 2title: She Was A Hollywood Actresstext: While you won't find any blockbuster hits on Lenore Romney's IMDB page, Mitt Romney's mom was a blossoming Hollywood actress before marrying his dad.

The Utah-native bolted through high school and college, finishing each a year early, to jet off to the American Laboratory School of Theatre in New York. She was soon spotted by talent scouts, offered an apprentice acting contract and moved to Hollywood.

"I only did bits, nothing important," Romney later said of her Hollywood stint.

When George Romney asked to marry her in 1931, Lenore turned down a three-year acting contract with MGM studios to marry her high school sweetheart.

"I had no intention of staying," she told The Morning Record newspaper in 1963, when Romney was running for governor. "I really was anxious to get married -- to George Romney."

quicklist: 3title: She Was a Stay-At-Home Momtext: After leaving her acting career at the altar, Romney was a stay-at-home mom for the remainder of her life, although she was extremely active politically as both the first lady of Michigan and the wife of a cabinet secretary.

"The role of women today doesn't begin and end with homemaking," Romney told a group of students in 1971. "A woman needs to contribute to society to make her life worthwhile."

Romney raised four children: two older daughters Jane and Lynn and two younger sons Scott and Mitt. When the Romneys entered the Michigan governor's mansion, only Mitt, as the baby of the family, was young enough to move with them.

quicklist: 4title: She Inspired Mitt Romney's (Former) Abortion Stancetext: Mitt Romney's stance on abortion has been the subject of intense scrutiny and is often pointed to by his rivals as the prime example of his flip-flopping nature.

While running for Senate in 1994, Romney said during debate against Sen. Edward Kennedy that he believes "abortion should be safe and legal in this country."

"I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a US Senate candidate," Romney said.During his 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor, Romney cited his mother again as the inspiration for supporting a women's right to chose, a stance no longer holds.

"She had very strong personal beliefs about what decision she would make for herself and her family, but she also made it clear that a woman should have the right to chose," Romney said in a debate during his gubernatorial run. "I have held that view consistently."

While Lenore Romney did not express full-fledged support for legalizing abortion, which was a felony offense during her 1970 Senate run, she pushed for "more liberal abortion rights" and ''greatly expanded programs of providing adequate family planning services."

Mitt Romney is now firmly opposed to abortion.

quicklist: 5title:She Died on Her 67th Wedding Anniversarytext: After suffering a stroke in 1998, Lenore Romney died on the same day that she would have celebrated her 67th wedding anniversary. Her death came three years after her husband's, who died of natural causes at the age of 88.

George Romney reportedly gave his wife a rose every morning they were married, even when they were separated for weeks at a time during their respective political campaigns.