The “Absurd” Romney/King Flap


As we all know, news accounts never die.  They remain on long after we are gone.  Now it’s come back to bite Mitt Romney in the ass:

Mitt Romney acknowledged yesterday that he never saw his father march with Martin Luther King Jr. as he asserted in a nationally televised speech this month, and historical evidence shows that Michigan’s Governor George Romney and the civil rights leader never did march together.

Romney said his father had told him he had marched with King and that he had been using the word “saw” in a “figurative sense.”


Susan Englander, assistant editor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University, who is editing the King papers from that era, told the Globe yesterday: “I researched this question, and indeed it is untrue that George Romney marched with Martin Luther King.”

She said that when he was governor of Michigan, George Romney issued a proclamation in June 1963 in support of King’s march in Detroit, but declined to attend, saying he did not participate in political events on Sundays. A New York Times story from the time confirms Englander’s account.

A few days after that march, George Romney joined a civil rights march through the Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, but King did not attend, Englander said. A report in the New York Times confirms Englander’s account of that second march, mentioning George Romney’s attendance but making no mention of King.

Romney has repeated the story of his father marching with King in some of his most prominent presidential campaign appearances, including the “Tonight” show with Jay Leno in May, his address on faith and politics Dec. 6 in Texas, and on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday, when he was questioned about the Mormon Church’s ban on full participation by black members. He said that he had cried in his car in 1978 when he heard the ban had ended, and added, “My father marched with Martin Luther King.”

Mitt Romney went a step further in a 1978 interview with the Boston Herald. Talking about the Mormon Church and racial discrimination, he said: “My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit.”

Yesterday, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom acknowledged that was not true. “Mitt Romney did not march with Martin Luther King,” he said in an e-mail statement to the Globe.

Yesterday I linked to the story in passing on a post about Mitt’s abortion stance.  I thought it was curious, but nothing huge.

Now it’s gotten a LOT bigger.  And those who were all over Fred’s silly hat story about his supposed indecision should now be all over Mitt for this brutal, surreal explanation from him about this story.

The simple fact is that he said he and his dad marched with MLK.  It didn’t happen.  Would you call that a lie or not?

Some are spinning this for sure.  Mark Kilmer:

You see, Michigan Governor George Romney issued, in June of 1963, a
proclamation of support of MLK and his movement. Later that year,
Governor George Romney participated in a civil rights march in Detroit.
Dr. King wasn’t there, but perhaps a younger Mitt was.

Allah at Hot Air gives him a pat on the butt rather then the kick in the ass he gave to Fred.

Paul Mirengoff with his own surreal explanation:

It seems probable to me that Romney did not mean to say that he literally saw George Romney and Dr. King marching together. In that event, Romney likely would have said that he was with his father when he marched with King, or that he himself marched with King.


Meanwhile, though, Jennifer Rubin, who criticized Mitt Romney (absurdly, I thought) for being insensitive to Jews when he kicked off his campaign at the Henry Ford museum, reports that Romney told the Boston Herald in 1978 that he and his father marched with Dr. King. The campaign admits that Mitt Romney never marched with King.

Even assuming that this 29 year-old report accurately quoted Romney, I would have thought that the statute of limitations period on misrepresenting one’s self to the press in 1978 has expired.

Oh sure, there is a statue of limitation now on lying to the press.  Wha-wha-what?

Dan Riehl with a much more sane take on this story:

Falsely capitalizing on the image of a slain civil rights
leader is simply not a good thing. For a man with a privileged and
somewhat pious background, it’s even worse.

Maybe Romney can finesse it, maybe he can cop a plea and
put it behind him. But pronouncing it as either absurd or ridiculous
doesn’t quite cut it for me.

Not for me either.

We dealt with a fraud through the Clinton years.  While I cannot call Mitt a fraud at this point, he sure is inching closer to that description.  

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Mitt was so impressed with the “I have a dream” speech he became a non-stop serial dreamer. He just likes to share his dreams as if they were real, because they are real to him. I think Hillary came up with a good term for this condition when she was dissing Petraeus during his Senate testimony a couple of months back, and in this case it actually applies: Suspension of Disbelief.

And here is the editor of the MLK Papers Project:

Susan Englander, assistant editor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University, who is editing the King papers from that era, told the Globe yesterday: “I researched this question, and indeed it is untrue that George Romney marched with Martin Luther King.”

Maybe Huck and Mitt should have a “who is more like Forrest Gump” contest. Certainly Huck has the mannerisms, but you just can’t beat Mitt for being there when it counted.

Why didn’t you report the two eye witnesses that saw George and Martin together in the march?

Here’s the link:

I also found another eye witness who bloged yesterday with his story:

David Thompson Says:
December 20th, 2007 at 11:36 am
As a young man I was at the march in Grosse Pointe, Michigan and saw both George Romney and Martin Luther King get out of their cars and join arms to begin the march. As they passed by me they invited me into the march. I joined and it changed my life.

It was not a large gathering, unlike the one held in Detroit, Michigan the day before (which I also participated in as a representative of the 14th district Young Democrats

I called my parents who lived in Chicago at the time, my uncle lived in Detroit and they remember it being on the news. How many more witnesses do you need or books that document the event?

Does the media really think the American people are foolish enough to fall for this?

Perhaps we could inch back from that fraud charge now that so many eyewitnesses have come forward?

I grew up about a mile from the Romney home and remember well the support for MLK and the open housing intitiative, then the cutting edge in Civil Rights matters.

I remember too that not many Republicans were marching with MLK in those days and this was almost Lincolnesque.

The Romneys have always been an all-American family given to accomplishment, and who have been maligned by cheap shots from brainwashing to the Mormon thing and now this.

Note how far back the research teams have to go to get someting on Mitt. Even at that, the essential truth is that George and Mitt supported MLK, and they are not bigots, to answer the previous cheap shot.

No one disputes that his family was a supporter of civil rights. But being a cop I know that eyewitnesses are not the best evidence to use for any court case. I understand this is not a court case but if the Romney camp wants to prove these allegations wrong they are going to need something better then a few eyewitnesses from 30 years ago.

The King papers show the father didn’t march with king. Two eyewitnesses said he did. Not too difficult to understand why people don’t believe the eyewitnesses.

Did the King Papers respond to the 1967 report or the 1963 report?

This seems more like a dumb mistake than a fraud. His father did march for the very same rights that King was marching for. Seems more like eggagerated family lore that Romney repeated without the wisdom of fact checking.

“No one disputes that his family was a supporter of civil rights”

Not true. There are charges and inferrences that because the Mormon church did not allow black pastors until the late 60’s that Mormons (and Mitt) are bigots (cousins of the Devil, anti-Christian, poligamists, you name it).

This is the reason Romney support for MLK (very real as you say) was brought up to begin with, arm in arm or not.

As unreliable as 44 year-old accounts are, I should think that so is the memory of a young lad who did remember the only important thing – Romneys are not bigots.

From David Bernstein

Then-governor George Romney did indeed march in Grosse Pointe, on Saturday, June 29, 1963, but Martin Luther King Jr. was not there; he was in New Brunswick, New Jersey, addressing the closing session of the annual New Jersey AFL-CIO labor institute at Rutgers University.

Those facts are indisputable, and quite frankly, the campaign must have known the women’s story would eventually be debunked — few people’s every daily movement has been as closely tracked and documented as King’s. As I write this, I am looking at an article from page E8 of the June 30, 1963 Chicago Tribune, which discusses both events (among other civil-rights actions of the previous day), clearly placing the two men hundreds of miles apart. I also have here the June 30, 1963 San Antonio News, which carries a photo and article about Romney at the Grosse Pointe march; and an AP story about King’s speech in New Jersey.

A King researcher editing his letters from that time has stated definitively that the two men never marched together; Michigan and Grosse Pointe historians have stated definitively that King was not at the 1963 Grosse Pointe march; Michigan civil-rights participants of the time have concurred; so have those who worked for George Romney at the time.

All of this evidence is important to present to the general public, but it is unnecessary for the Romney campaign — it has been clear for some time that they know perfectly well that the two men never marched together.
Bear in mind that the Romney team has a substantial research team (and vast resources for outsourcing more). Bear in mind that the campaign has compiled vast documentation about the candidate’s father, particularly his civil-rights activities, long before the Phoenix posed the question earlier this week. Bear in mind that the campaign has direct access to George Romney’s materials and documents, his family members, his friends, his former staff, etc.

Believe me, they know the two men never marched together. This is an attempt to rewrite history. And even if it is a small rewriting, it is offensive…. Changing that history by mistake — which is quite possibly how this began — is unfortunate. Changing that history intentionally — which is what the campaign is doing now — is offensive.