Saturday, June 23, 2007

The first (and only unbiased) Boston Globe article on Romney

This is really interesting. How did the liberal Boston Globe view Mitt Romney before they realized he was a conservative political powerhouse? As you will see from this article from November 1993, the Globe was in awe of Romney's accomplishments and didn't make any attempts at spinning his story, achievements, or positions. This was written before Romney even formally announced his bid for the Senate, and way before he got the Republican party's nomination as Kennedy's opponent. It didn't take long for the Globe to realize that Mitt was a threat to Democrats and liberals, and soon after this article, they turned on the spin machine, and it's been that way ever since.

So enjoy the first and last spin-free Globe article on Romney:

Copyright 1993 Globe Newspaper Company
The Boston Globe
November 14, 1993
By John H. Kennedy, Globe Staff

Since W. Mitt Romney came to Massachusetts more than 20 years ago he has attained notable success in business, most recently helping to reverse the flagging fortunes of prominent management consulting firm Bain & Co.But in the back of his mind he's also been thinking about Edward M. Kennedy. "Probably since a year or two after I got here," says Romney, smiling.

Now Romney, the 46-year-old son of former Michigan governor George Romney, is making plans to challenge the US senator next year.Long shot? To be sure. Suicide mission? Some would say. It doesn't seem to daunt Romney, a political novice but respected businessman who helped right Bain & Co. recently and earlier helped launch Bain Capital Inc., a separate venture capital firm. Taking risks, says Romney, has been a part of his professional portfolio for years. "It's what I do," he offers from across a conference table in his Copley Place office.

Although he has made no formal announcement, Romney has hired pollster Richard Wirthlin, conferred with Republican officials in Boston and Washington, and even put his 86-year-old father on the telephone with state Republican Committee members."I realize the long odds," said Romney. "I want to make sure that this time Ted has a very articulate, aggressive, well-financed opponent who provides a real choice."

Although both Kennedy and Romney come with political pedigrees, Romney's supporters are already contrasting the businessman, a squeaky-clean Mormon family man, with Kennedy, whose rakish image has only recently been softened by a second marriage."He was always someone you would say, 'Why can't we have someone like that in politics?' " says Chip Baird, a former Bain partner, friend and investment partner. "He comes across as too good to be true, and it's true," Baird says. "And that's what makes him an interesting contrast.

"Romney, who followed his high school sweetheart to Brigham Young University and remains a leader in the Mormon Church, has no shortage of friends, colleagues and even competitors to sing his praises.Says George Bennett, an early Bain & Co. principal who now heads Symmetrix, a rival consulting company: "I have never heard anyone say anything derogatory or mean spirited about Mitt Romney. I can't say that about many of my competitors."That certainly will change, should Romney take the full plunge into the rough-and-tumble world of Massachusetts politics. And two questions arise, aside from his positions on specific issues: Is his skin thick enough? And, is he prepared for the prospect of failure?

Businessmen with little or no political experience have not fared well in Massachusetts politics in recent years. Rarely has a business person gained a top statewide office, or spot in the Massachusetts congressional delegation."It's not what you call a launching pad," says Republican strategist Todd Domke.Willard Mitt Romney, the youngest of four children, was born and raised in Michigan, where he attended public elementary schools and a private high school. Willard comes from J. Willard Marriott Sr., the late founder of the hotel chain and friend to his father. The Mitt comes from Mitt Romney, late cousin to his father and star athlete at the University of Chicago. (The late Mitt Romney also had two brothers, Att and Ott.)

Mitt was 15 by the time his businessman father first ran for governor in Michigan in 1962, becoming the first Republican chief executive for several years. Romney was reelected in 1964 and 1966."By the end of the last campaign for governor, I think I visited close to all 52 counties in Michigan," the son says. "To get rid of the candidate's son, they gave me a panel truck with signs painted on the side and I would go to the county fairs, set up a booth and hand out buttons."He later would stump for his mother, Lenore, who gained the Republican nomination for US Senate in 1970, only to lose to Democrat Philip Hart.The father imparted some advice about public office: Run after your children are old enough to handle the loss of privacy and after you have achieved financial stability. "And three, you've got to feel that there is a real need for the contribution you can make," says the son.

Another lesson he learned by watching. As early returns in the 1964 election trickled in, Barry Goldwater at the top of the ticket was getting trounced by Lyndon Johnson. Gathered in a Detroit hotel suite, the family heard the pollster say it was over for gubernatorial candidate Romney as well."He wasn't distraught, he wasn't destroyed," the son says now. "It was like, 'I did this for what I could contribute. If I don't win, fine.' "George Romney ended up winning that race, but failed in a bid to gain the Republican nomination for president in 1968. And the son learned the lesson. "That old quote from Teddy Roosevelt, something to the effect, 'I salute those that get into the fight, get bloody, sweaty and win or lose, they were in the fight.'

"When Romney left Harvard in 1975 with degrees in law and business administration, he joined the Boston Consulting Group. Two years later he jumped over to Bain & Co. after a Saturday morning interview with William Bain Jr., cofounder and a legendary presence in management consulting."He sort of immediately radiated intelligence," Bain says now. "At that time, he seemed a lot older than he was."Romney became a vice president in 1978, but co-workers were struck by the balance he maintained between job and family. In a business where travel and long hours are routine, Romney felt it important to make it home to see his wife, Ann, and five boys, now 12 to 23. He kept track in his calendar of the nights he got home too late to see his kids before bed, says Bain. And he was in the office early, after having made rounds to visit members of his church in the hospital. Romney is president of his stake, which is the rough equivalent of a diocese in the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1984 Bain picked Romney to head Bain Capital, a separate venture capital company that tapped money and expertise from Bain and his partners, as well as investors outside the Bain sphere.Romney posted a notice on the bulletin board seeking co-workers to join him at the new venture. "Some huge portion of the company signed up," said John Rutherford, another former "Bainie" who heads the management consulting firm Talisman Inc. in Boston. "They only wanted two people."But Romney, whose office was still just down the hall from Bill Bain's, would return to Bain to serve as chief executive for 18 months - wading into a crisis that threatened to bring down Bain & Co.By 1989 the firm's future was in jeopardy. Bain & Co. had accumulated massive debt, in part from a buyout plan Bain and some senior partners put together. This problem was compounded by a slumping economy that failed to produce the expected revenue stream and the firm's heavy dependence on too few clients. Partners, disgruntled with Bain and the slow transition to a next generation of leadership, began leaving.

Romney was asked to step in temporarily to help restructure the company. "At the time, the odds looked long," he says. "I was nervous." One banker said chances for success were 10 percent, according to Romney, and another admitted he had never seen a professional services firm successfully come out of a workout.Romney was seen as the perfect person for the job. He was familiar with Bain & Co. and was trusted by the splintered factions at the troubled company. So Romney "left a very cozy situation to jump into a swamp filled with alligators," says Baird, the former Bain partner. Romney says credit for the turnaround should be shared, especially by 15 partners who signed a letter pledging to stay for at least 18 months - no matter what. Romney vowed no layoffs, or he would quit the job. Costs were cut, and the cofounders agreed to put $ 25 million cash back into the company, as well as forgive millions of dollars in notes.

In putting together the rescue plan, he reached back for a bit of family business advice, consulting a Harvard Business School case study that detailed his father's financial restructuring of American Motors Corp."It just seemed a little unusual" to reach back to his father's experience 25 years earlier, says David Lord, managing editor of Consultants News, which tracks Bain and other firms. "But it worked.""I don't want to say there was no one else who could do it," said Bain, who is no longer active in the company's day-to-day affairs. "We'll never know. But he did an excellent job."Company revenues dropped from $ 242 million in 1989 to $ 175 million in 1991, according to Consultants News. They have bounced back by more than 10 percent each of the past two years, and the company projects a 15 to 20 percent increase next year, says Lord.

Through it all, senior executives held true to a set of values and loyalty to the company and its clients, says Orit Gadiesh, now chairman of the board of Bain & Co., and one of the 15 who committed to remain during the tough times. "I think we have a true north," she says.Romney, who lives in Belmont, has written Republican activists saying he plans to run. Thursday he was in Washington to visit pollster Richard Wirthlin, and had an issues briefing with Republican Senatorial Committee. And Friday night he attended a Republican Party function in Boston for Jack Kemp, former Housing and Urban Development secretary.

He says he isn't ready to detail his political positions, but was eager to distinguish himself from Kennedy. The Democrat sees problems, and thinks more government spending is a solution, says Romney. "And my view is, that isn't the answer," he says.Kennedy declined to comment about Romney's possible candidacy, but spokeswoman Pamela Hughes said the senator "has always run for the office, not against an opponent. Right now his goal is to be the best senator he can be for Massachusetts."Of course, Romney is expected to have a primary fight, with no guarantees he will ever meet Kennedy head to head.Among the Republicans talking about a bid next year are radio personality Janet Jeghelian and businessman John Lakian, an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1982.

Domke, the Republican strategist, says political novices generally get a rude greeting from Massachusetts voters, who admire political success, effectiveness in office and clout."So those candidates, and they are usually Republicans in this state, who offer themselves as virgins are usually thrown into the volcano," says Domke. "They are sacrificed. They are not exalted."

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