Romney campaign frustrations bubble to surface in movie 'Mitt'

Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:10pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney may be a very wealthy man but when a filmmaker decided to document his two failed White House bids over six years, he was surprised to find how thrifty the former private equity executive was.

"I was surprised that somebody that rich would be that cheap," director Greg Whiteley told Reuters, regaling a story of how Romney was shocked at the price of a glass of milk at a hotel. "He was constantly agonizing over how much for a (campaign advertising) spot."

Romney, who left the private equity firm Bain Capital he co-founded to enter politics in 2002, has an estimated net worth of between $190 million and $250 million.

"He would look at the hotel bill and just go crazy, and say, 'I'll just go buy my own milk at the grocery store at a third of the cost'," the director said with a laugh.

The story of Romney's thriftiness is part of Whiteley's new documentary that goes behind the scenes during Romney's first unsuccessful attempt to become the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 and his 2012 campaign for the White House.

"Mitt," premiering in Salt Lake City on Friday as part of the annual Sundance Film Festival in Utah, kicks off Romney's story in 2006, in a cozy scene on Christmas Eve around a log fire, when he takes a family vote on whether he should run.

While the film offers a glimpse into intimate moments of the Romney family, there are also times when Romney's wife Ann, or his five sons, express anger and frustration at comments and situations critical of the family patriarch.

In one scene, Romney's son Josh speaks openly to the director, giving a candid translation of his trained answers to the media.   Continued...

Former U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney pauses during remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst