Mitt Romney responded on Friday to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s (D) suggestion that he'd hit bumps in the road in appealing to the national electorate because his father was "born on a polygamy commune in Mexico."
Addressing the assertion made one day earlier, Romney told Fox News, "My dad's dad was not a polygamist." He added, "My dad grew up in a family with a mom and a dad and a few brothers and one sister. They lived in Mexico and lived a very nice life there from what I understand and then when he was five or six years old there was a revolution in Mexico. They escaped. I believe they went to El Paso first, and were helped by the government to get on their feet and then his dad went around the country, Los Angeles, I think Idaho, Utah, went broke more than once. My dad had a very tough upbringing."
Schweitzer didn't back down after sparking controversy with his comments. Eric Stern, senior counselor to the Montana Democrat, said in a statement to The Daily Beast:
"The governor believes exactly what he said: that Romney is in a pickle. He’s in serious trouble with Hispanics because he took a crazy, extreme position on immigration during the primary (deport even those who may have come here illegally 50 years ago who have children and grandchildren who are naturalized citizens)…Romney will probably not choose to highlight his own family’s connection to Mexico as a way of reaching out to Hispanics, because that history involves a polygamy colony, which is something that Romney doesn’t like to discuss."
Below, additional background:
Romney's father, the late Michigan governor George Romney, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1907 to American citizens living in a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints colony. The Romney family had left the U.S. to avoid being prosecuted for polygamy after laws against the practice were enforced, and returned to the U.S. after the Mexican Revolution broke out. Some family members stayed in Mexico and Mitt Romney has about 40 relatives still living south of the border.