Thursday, April 28, 2011


Lost in our discussions of Barack Obama's birth certificate is the fact that a guy who was once the leading candidate for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination -- George Romney, governor of Michigan and father of Mitt -- wasn't even born in America.

George Romney was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1907, his forebears having fled the U.S. in the 19th century to avoid prosecution for polygamy. In November 1966, the Gallup poll showed him as the top contender for his party's presidential nomination, although he later fell behind, especially after asserting that he'd experienced "brainwashing" from U.S. military leaders during a trip to Vietnam. But there's no evidence that a concerted campaign was mounted to declare him ineligible to run -- and even though he dropped out of the race early, he was put in nomination for the vice presidential slot (remember that the constitutional requirements for the president and vice president are the same) at the Republican convention.

In 1998, when John McCain was talking about a presidential bid and his birth in the Panama Canal Zone was brought up, Ken Rudin wrote in The Washington Post that Romney had been unquestionably eligible in '68:

... Romney was eligible. Romney’s grandfather emigrated to Mexico in 1886 with his three wives and children after Congress outlawed polygamy. Romney and his parents, who retained their U.S. citizenship, returned to the United States in 1912, the year Mexico erupted into revolution.

By the way, it's amusing to me that we might have a presidential race in 2012 between two descendants of polygamists.

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