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Mitt Romney At 2012 Republican Debate: I'm Happy Ted Kennedy Had To Take Out A Mortgage In Senate Race

First Posted: 01/08/2012 9:47 am EST Updated: 01/23/2014 6:58 pm EST

CONCORD, N.H. -- Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney responded to attacks that he is a career politician with long-standing political ambitions by relaying some advice given to him by his father.

"I happened to see my dad run for governor when he was 54 years old," said Romney. "He said, 'Mitt, never get involved in politics if you have to win election to pay a mortgage.' If you find yourself in a position when you can serve, you ought to have a responsibility to do so if you think you can make a difference. He said also don't get involved in politics when your kids are still young because it may turn their heads."

Romney's advice was meant to warn against the idea of a career politician who is simply interested in staying in office no matter what. But it also seems to mean that less-affluent members of the public, who might not be as financially secure and wealthy as most of the people running for president, should also be excluded from being candidates.

Romney then told a story about when he was running to unseat the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), saying he was glad Kennedy suffered financially during their race.

"When I saw Ted Kennedy running virtually unopposed, a man who I thought by virtue of the policies of the liberal welfare state had created a permanent underclass in America, I thought somebody has to run against him," said Romney. "I happened to have been wise enough to realize I did not have a ghost of a chance of beating him. ... I told my partners in my firm, I will be back in six months, don't take my chair. I was happy that he had to take a mortgage out on his house to ultimately defeat me. I am very proud of the fact that I have stood up as a citizen to battle where I felt it was best for the nation, and we're talking about running for president. I am in the race because I care about the country."

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