In her address to the Republican National Convention last night, Ann Romney, wife of the presidential candidate Mitt Romney, tried to humanize the persona of her husband, who is perceived by many as an aloof, wealthy elitist who has little in common with typical Americans. In part of her address she talked about the first date she had with Romney, a dance at her "high school":
And that is where this boy I met at a high school dance comes in. His name is Mitt Romney and you really should get to know him.The "our town" to which Ann (née Davies) Romney refers is Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It is a northern suburb of Detroit, and consistently ranks as one of the top five wealthiest cities in the United States with population between 2,500 to 9,999 and has the highest income of any city outside of California, Florida or Virginia. The median family income is now over $200,000, and about half the residential property is valued at more than one million dollars. It was no different in the 1960's - the disparity to surrounding communities may have been worse.
I could tell you why I fell in love with him -- he was tall, laughed a lot, was nervous -- girls like that, it shows the guy’s a little intimidated -- and he was nice to my parents but he was really glad when my parents weren’t around.
That’s a good thing. And he made me laugh.
I am the granddaughter of a Welsh coal miner who was determined that his kids get out of the mines. My dad got his first job when he was six years old, in a little village in Wales called Nantyffyllon, cleaning bottles at the Colliers Arms.
When he was 15, dad came to America. In our country, he saw hope and an opportunity to escape from poverty. He moved to a small town in the great state of Michigan. There, he started a business -- one he built himself, by the way.
He raised a family. And he became mayor of our town.
My dad would often remind my brothers and me how fortunate we were to grow up in a place like America. He wanted us to have every opportunity that came with life in this country -- and so he pushed us to be our best and give our all.
Inside the houses that lined the streets of our town, there were a lot of good fathers teaching their sons and daughters those same values. I didn’t know it at the time, but one of those dads was my future father-in-law, George Romney.
Ann Davies' "high school" was then known as the Kingswood School for Girls, part of the Cranbrook Schools, one of the nations most prestigious prep schools (certainly the best that Michigan has to offer). Mitt Romney went to the Cranbrook School for Boys, just across the lake from Kingswood. Cranbrook is a gorgeous campus that includes a science academy, art museum, and graduate school for fine art, on land that was originally the estate of George Booth, the founder of the Detroit News.
Today, tuition for grades 9 through 12 is $28,300 ($10,000 more for boarding students).
Why did Ann Romney not mention any of this in her address? Read the portion of her speech above again; she attempts to portray her upbringing as if she was part of the cast of It's a Wonderful Life, a folksy remembrance of picket fences and sidewalks full of good citizens on an evening stroll where people sit watching from their porches.
Nothing could be further from the truth - there is no "downtown" in Bloomfield Hills, nor are there traditional neighborhoods with sidewalks. There are large mansions with stone walls and iron gates, where everyone drives since there is nothing within walking distance.
This false picture that Ann Romney painted last night is simply one more part of a campaign meant to fool the electorate, to portray Mitt Romney as a regular guy. I'll bet you, my friend, $10,000 that many are willing to believe it.
(In full disclosure, I grew up about five miles from Bloomfield Hills, and had a high school friend whose father was the last headmaster of the Cranbrook School for Boys.)