Grand Menteur! Romney lies about luxury as young Mormon in Paris

No functioning shower. A bucket for a toilet. Such were the sufferings of young missionary Mitt Romney while fulfilling his Mormon mission in France in the 1960s, according to reprinted statements in The Telegraph (United Kingdom). Writer Henry Samuel attributed these quotes about French apartments to the Republican candidate for the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

He said: “If we were lucky, we actually bought a hose and we stuck it on the sink.” And “…most of the apartments I lived in had no shower or bathtub.” These laments were revealed in the article titled Mitt Romney’s life as a poor Mormon in France questioned.

Factcheck: For six months of his 30-month stay in France, Mr. Romney lived in a luxurious Paris home – the Mormon Home valued at $12-million in today’s dollars. Address 3 Rue de Lota, Paris 75016. To watch the video, visit TheEnglishJournal.com. Mr. Romney will not revisit the wealthy 16th arrondissement (neighborhood) where he used to live in Paris; in fact, he will not even return to France during his UK-Poland-Israel swing.

Mr. Romney does not discuss his time in the home, according to ParisIsInvisible.blogspot.com. “It is surprising that the house did not make more of a lasting impression in Mitt Romney’s memories of his mission abroad,” mused a posting in May 2012.

The home was built for wealthy American shipping man Douglas Fitch at the end of the 19th century. “The scale and decoration of the property they built show that they clearly had vast sums of money to spend (a further sign of the wealth of the Fitch family is the fact that the young Douglas  even had his portrait painted by Renoir),” said the site.

Requests for comments through Mr. Romney’s media coordinator and his son Tagg were not returned.

Left to rely on old interviews, again The Telegraph from December 2011 is the source:  “… Mr. Romney said of his French lodgings: “I don’t recall any of them having a refrigerator. We shopped before every meal.”

But, a fellow Mormon explained that the Paris residence had a refrigerator and more.  Were the cook’s creations so uninspiring that Mr. Romney did not remember them for the interview?

The Telegraph: “ ….. the mansion had “a Spanish chef called Pardo and a house boy, who prepared lunch and supper five days a week…. It was “well equipped” with all modern conveniences, including a combination washer-dryer machine, said Richard Anderson (son of the former Mormon director in Paris). “I never saw anything like it in another private home at that time.”

Though that was 44 years ago, it is rare today for a Paris home to have both a washing machine and a dryer. Mr. Romney said: “I lived in a way that people of lower middle income in France lived, and said to myself, ‘Wow, I sure am lucky to have been born in the United States of America.’”

It was a house built by and for rich people,” said Anderson. “I would describe it as a palace.”  So palatial was the home that it was bought from the Mormons by the United Arab Emirates for use as its embassy. It is no longer the embassy, however. 

Another excerpt from The Telegraph from December 2011: Tearful as he described the house, Mr. Anderson, 70, of Kaysville, Utah, said Romney aides had asked him not to speak publicly about their time together there.

Discussion of Mr. Romney’s life abroad erupted as a result of Mr. Romney’s announced European, pre-election travel schedule – similar to Barack Obama’s grand sweep across the continent in 2008. But there is a gap in the plans.  

Pourquoi pas Paris? Why isn’t Mr. Romney returning to the country where he cut his teeth in persuasion and team-building as a 19- and 20- and 21-year-old?  Maybe it would awaken the giant, sleeping lies.

He also experienced true tumult, according to the myth-building writing exploits of the New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick and Ben Werschkul duo.  Their 2007 piece detailed that Mr. Romney witnessed such crushing French unrest over the Vietnam War that protesters “shut down the telephones, trains and mail. Trash piled up in the streets, while store shelves and gas stations sat empty.”

Their dynamic writing continued: Mr. Romney, though, said that he sometimes had wished he were in Vietnam instead of France. “There were surely times on my mission when I was having a particularly difficult time accomplishing very little when I would have longed for the chance to be serving in the military,” he said in an interview, “but that was not to be.”

For you to decide on the journalists’ objectivity, consider that this Times’ tagteam also wrote that “Mitt Romney had walked in civil rights marches with his father and said he shared concern for racial equality.” (I am waiting for the photographic evidence.)

Further agrandisement of Romney comes from the Washington Post.  Steve Evans created the Mormon blog By Common Consent in 2004. He met Mr. Romney during his own Mormon in Paris.

Some Evans excerpts:  “Romney led a simple and poor existence …. Mitt Romney would have been very concerned about the poor in France … the indigent, the elderly, the mentally ill and the desperate …. (he) walked the streets of Paris in 1968 during the revolts…” gushed Mr. Evans in one segment of the ‘Man on a Mission’ series in the Post in May.

Mr. Evans erased his own credibility because he – a former Mormon missionary in Paris – would know of the opulence of Mormon Home. Did I mention the stained-glass window above the entrance?  Watch the video on TheEnglishJournal.com. The bare-breasted female figure is nothing for the French, but for young Mormon men to view night and day … Incroyable!

Dommage que Mr. Romney’s media organization has not provided original statements for this piece and that the American publications are distilling their own version of Romney koolaid.  Acts of lying by omitting and lying by ignoring requests are unacceptable in this age of digital communication.

These pressing questions about time served in France occurred to me after reading Romney’s liaisons dangereuses on the Deutsche Welle website. The German site synthesizes the issue perfectly.   So Romney will avoid Germany and its reporters as well as France. 

Unlike the last Republican president who was widely criticized for his lack of international experience, Mitt Romney spent two and half years abroad. So why don’t we hear him talk about that time during the campaign?

Going door to door in southern France in the late 1960s trying to strike up conversations about the Mormonism must have been a mind-opening experience for an American college student with limited French language skills. – Deutsche Welle 

Outreach for a Mormon perspective

From K. Lantz, posted in the comments after The Telegraph article:

12/16/2011 08:00 PM

Your story leaves out a very important fact of LDS missions: that missionaries get transferred to different areas of the mission every few months. Mitt Romney did not live in the mission home the entire time, only a few months. He did not lie. Stories like this right before an election are the reason we have so many misinformed voters going to the polls. You should be ashamed of yourselves for running it without getting a response from the Romney campaign to verify your “facts.” – K. Lantz

In closing, I’m using the initial “K” to protect her full name though she posted with her viewpoint.  Despite her machinations, she, like the Romney camp, did not respond to my request to enlighten readers in July 2012 about the Mormon perspective.

These are the two interview requests sent to Romney aides.

July 25 17 h 46/ CET

Your message has been sent: to www.p2012.org

Hello Mr. Romney — I am researching a piece about your Paris mission service in 1968. I have read quotes in articles, but I prefer direct responses from you. I did not find a media contact button on MittRomney.com, so I am asking here. Please respond because I am on deadline. Thanks Nita Wiggins

The response:

I’ll respond as soon as possible.  Thank you for your input!Return to DEMOCRACY IN ACTION

(The social media request to Tagg.)

July 25 17 h 19/ CET

Hello Mr. Romney —

I am researching a piece on your father and his Paris mission service. To whom would I pose my questions? I did not find a media contact button on MittRomney.com. I am writing from Paris, but geography is not a barrier. Please respond because I am on deadline. Thanks Nita Wiggins

Nita Wiggins is an American educator and journalist who writes from Paris, France. Follow her @EducatingMsNita 


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