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Buried at the bottom of an Associated Press story that ran in the El Paso Times today is a nugget that Latino tweeters have been seizing on: Mitt Romney's dad was from Chihuahua.
This isn't the first time the story of George Romney has come up, but it has surfaced again now that the younger Romney has announced his bid for the presidency in 2012. The elder Romney, former governor of Michigan, was born in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua in a community established in the 1880s by Mormons, who fled to Mexico from the United States to escape persecution.
There are still Romneys in Chihuahua today, distant relatives of the Republican former Massachusetts governor. And they, like other Mexicans, are dealing with the troubles affecting that part of the country. From the story in the El Paso Times:
On June 17, 2009, kidnappers released a Chihuahua rancher and Mormon leader who was a distant relative of Romney.
Meredith Romney was kidnapped June 15, 2009 near his ranch outside the town of Janos, about 140 miles southwest of Juárez.
Meredith Romney is a former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple in Colonia Juárez, a Mormon colony founded by Americans in the 1880s in Casas Grandes, Chihuahua.
The Romney family has roots in Mexico. Mitt Romney's father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, was born in a Mormon community in the state of Chihuahua.
In 2007, the Latina Lista blog's Marisa Treviño also described Romney's family history in a Huffington Post piece that was critical of Romney's immigration stance, given that he's a descendant of American immigrants to Mexico who went there seeking religious freedom.
Interestingly, the fact that George Romney was not born in the United States was a thorn in his political career, ImmigrationProf blog reported the same year. From that post:
Like Mitt, George Romney was a businessman and politician. And he unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination against Richard Nixon in 1968. George's candidacy raised the issue whether he was eligible to be President, which is constitutionally limited to a "natural born citizen" of the United States. Both his parents were American citizens, and he returned to the U.S. before he turned 21. That was sufficient for him to be a U.S. citizen, but not necessarily to pass the "natural born" test for the Presidency.
The younger Romney has been an opponent of the sweeping immigration reform supported by many Democrats and at one time some Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona (himself born in Panama), who a few years ago blasted him with a comment that Romney should "get out his small-varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn."