Mitt Romney



The information presented below reflects the 2008 election season and is not representative of changes in titles, roles, or policy views expressed since then.

Mitt Romney Though Mitt Romney was a venture capitalist before he became a politician, his family name was already well known on the U.S. political scene. His father, George W. Romney, was a three-term governor in Michigan, secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Nixon, and ran a failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968. Romney made his own fortune after founding the successful private investment firm Bain Capital in 1984, where he served as CEO until recently. He gained broader fame by serving as president of the organizing committee for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. The conservative Romney later won the Massachusetts governorship by a wide margin, even winning over some solidly Democratic areas in the largely liberal state. If elected, Romney would have been the first Mormon president of the United States.

Romney’s foreign policy views generally align with those of the Bush administration. He sees Islamic fundamentalists, or “jihadists,” as the most pressing threat to the United States. He has focused his foreign policy platform on upping defense spending, forging “global networks of intelligence and law enforcement,” and supporting “moderate Muslims” throughout the Middle East.

Romney suspended his campaign for the GOP nomination in early February 2008. He has since endorsed his former opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Campaign Issues

U.S. Policy toward Africa

Romney’s positions on policy issues toward African countries are not well known. In a July 2007 Foreign Affairs article, Romney praised U2 singer Bono and other activists for their efforts to raise awareness of poverty in Africa and elsewhere. Romney said U.S. efforts to bolster the standing of moderate Muslims abroad by combating poverty and underdevelopment should be focused in Africa as well as the Middle East.

The Los Angeles Times reported on August 14, 2007, that Romney has investments in an oil company tied to the Sudanese government, which is accused of being partially responsible for the massacres in Darfur. Romney’s campaign spokesman told the Times that Romney’s attorney controls his investments and that he “had no influence over how his investments were handled.” His spokesman did not say whether Romney would divest these funds.

U.S. Policy toward India

Romney views India as potentially profitable for U.S. marketing and investment, due to its flourishing economy and huge population. Romney said in 2005 that although outsourcing to countries like India is a problem, “we'll see new opportunities created selling products there. We'll have a net increase in economic activity, just as we did with free trade.”

Military Tribunals and Guantanamo Bay

Romney not only supports the existence of the prison, he said in a May 2007 Republican debate, “we ought to double Guantanamo.” He also said “enhanced interrogation techniques,” though not torture, should be used there.

Romney has also downplayed allegations of prisoner mistreatment in Guantanamo. “The food down there is unbelievable. This is not this gulag; this is a modern prison which treats people with dignity and respect," Romney said.

Domestic Intelligence

Romney has been a proponent of domestic intelligence gathering methods and has called for increased federal funding and participation in such measures. Romney’s opinion regarding the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretaps is unknown, but he clearly does not have qualms with domestic spying in general. In 2005, Romney made headlines by advocating the wiretapping of mosques (BosGlobe) within the United States. During his time as governor, Massachusetts opened a “fusion center” for enhanced intelligence analysis within the state. Romney has argued that individual states should play a larger role in domestic intelligence gathering.


Romney appears to support the idea that the United States is engaged in a global war against terrorism and “the jihadists.” In a recent Foreign Affairs article, Romney wrote that U.S. center of attention should not be limited to Iraq and Afghanistan because “the jihad is much broader than any one nation, or even several nations.” For this reason, Romney writes, any anti-terror efforts must focus more broadly on preventing “radical Islam” from attaining its ultimate goal, which he says is “to replace all modern Islamic states with a worldwide caliphate while destroying the United States and converting all nonbelievers, forcibly if necessary, to Islam.”

Democracy Promotion in the Arab World

Romney advocates democracy promotion as a key prong in his strategy to “defeat the jihadists.” On his campaign website, he calls for a U.S.-led “international coalition that promotes secular education, modern financial and economic policies, international trade, and human rights” in the Middle East. He elaborates in a summer 2007 Foreign Affairs article, saying he would like to create a “Partnership for Prosperity and Progress” aimed at supporting moderate Muslims in economic, health, rule of law and other areas to help them “defeat radical and violent Islam.”

The policy chairman for Romney’s campaign was Vin Weber, who sits on the U.S. Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Democracy Promotion.

Energy Policy

Romney said in April 2007 that the United States should “end our strategic vulnerability to an oil shut-off by nations like Iran, Russia, and Venezuela.” In late February 2007, Romney spoke at a New Hampshire solar energy-manufacturing plant, saying that the United States needs to become energy self-sufficient (Eagle-Tribune) within the next couple of decades. He has expressed support for drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Romney presented an energy policy in August of 2006 that required state buildings to increase energy efficiency and state vehicles to use more biofuels (AP). That plan also outlined the potential creation of a “negawatts” program that would require utility companies to offset their power usage by repaying customers who cut their energy use.

In September 2007, Romney released a report advocating increased funding for research into clean energy. He also called for accelerated construction of new nuclear power facilities.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Romney declared his commitment to “defeating the jihadists” around the world. His rhetoric regarding Israel largely focused on curbing Iran, rather than resolving tensions between Israel and Palestine. Still, in a speech at the 2007 Herlzliya conference in Israel, Romney called on Arab states to stop providing financial support and weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah, and to pressure the Palestinians to “drop terrorism and recognize Israel's right to exist.” Romney also supports the security wall that divides the West Bank from Israel.

North Korea Policy

Romney expressed doubts about the Six-Party Talks’ February denuclearization agreement, saying inspectors must gain full access to North Korean nuclear facilities to ensure the deal’s success, as well as to make sure Pyongyang is not “cheating.”

Cuba Policy

Romney supports a continuation of the current U.S. embargo on Cuba. "America will never back down to
the Castro brothers," Romney said (PDF) regarding the sanctions in September 2007.

In a March 2007 interview on Miami’s WIOD radio Romney said, “I think we need to continue the pressure and to develop a Latin American strategy that will move more countries toward us and away from the Castro brothers and individuals like Hugo Chavez.”

In a speech in Miami in March 2007, Romney praised TV Marti and other U.S. stations broadcasting into Cuba for delivering a "daily flow of truth."

Romney’s campaign was supported (AP) by Cuban-born Al Cárdenas, former chairman of the Florida Republican Party.

U.S. Policy toward China

Romney says that the United States must “reach out to China and to chart out a course that is consistent with a free economy and a free society,” according to National Review. Romney, who traveled to China at the end of 2006, said in a February 2007 speech that the U.S. must ensure that Chinese markets are open to U.S. goods, and that the Chinese “enforce our intellectual property rights as well as they enforce their own.”

Defense Policy

Romney has said that the U.S. military must be bolstered, and in April 2007 he called for an increase in military size by one hundred thousand troops. He also said the United States must dedicate at least 4 percent of its gross domestic product to defense, thus “making up for critical gaps in our military modernization, equipment, personnel, and health care efforts.” Romney says the United States should spend an additional $40 billion to $50 billion per year on military modernization.

The Air National Guard (ANG) established a new ground station unit in Massachusetts during Romney’s governorship there. That ANG expansion was intended to “provide force structure in Massachusetts that both supports Air Force missions and allows Governor Romney to meet homeland defense and security requirements,” the Air Force Print News reported.


In speeches through the spring of 2007, Romney said he supported efforts to include Iraq’s neighbors in security negotiations. He has pressed Arab governments in the region to do more to “support Iraq’s nascent government.” He favors the president’s surge strategy and opposes plans to pull out of Iraq in the near future or to carve up the country into three regions because, as he warns in Foreign Affairs, “Iran could seize the Shiite south, al-Qaeda could dominate the Sunni west, and Kurdish nationalism could destabilize the border with Turkey.” In general, Romney views the Iraqi conflict as part of a larger campaign against radical Islam, whose “over-arching conflict and goal [is] replacing all modern Islamic states with a caliphate, destroying America, and conquering the world.”

In January 2008, Romney's chief opponent for the Republican nomination, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), accused him of having at one time supported a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.  Romney has called McCain's allegation "offensive" and "absolutely wrong." McCain cited Romney's April 2007 appearance on Good Morning America in which Romney said that there is "no question that the president and [Iraqi] Prime Minister al Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about, but those shouldn't be for public pronouncement." In that same interview, Romney promised to veto any bill to pass Congress mandating a timetable for withdrawal.


Gov. Romney (R-MA) is pro-free trade (MSNBC). He is against protectionism, which, he said at a campaign speech in February 2007, “would virtually guarantee that America would become a second-tier economy in a couple of decades, with a second-class standard of living.” Romney has also expressed support for trade with China. “We’d like to see more agreements, not fewer, to improve the economic well-being of our neighborhood,” he said in a July 2007 speech. “Trade lifts all nations that participate.” In October 2007, Romney named a trade policy advisory group for his campaign, which includes Columbia Business School Dean R. Glenn Hubbard and Manufacturers Alliance CEO Thomas Duesterberg, among others. "Expanding trade is pro-growth, pro-industry, pro-agriculture, and pro-American leadership in the world," Romney said at the time.

In December 2007, Romney outlined his "Conservative Blueprint for Strenghtening the Economy," which proposes the creation of a "Reagan Zone Of Economic Freedom," a bloc of nations "committed to open markets." The zone would include the European Union, "while challenging China." In his "Blueprint," Romney also said the president should have Trade Promotion Authority.

Homeland Security

Romney has some experience in dealing with issues of homeland security. He served as chief of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, as chair of the National Governors Association’s Homeland Security Committee, and as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Under Romney’s governorship, Massachusetts received a “passing grade” from the DHS in 2006, meaning that that state had an acceptable disaster response plan.

In 2003, Romney said in a statement before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that the United States should allocate funds to develop statewide plans in which the homeland security efforts of various communities within a given state are integrated. He also called for improved intelligence sharing.


Romney’s “five-point plan” on Iran calls for tougher sanctions and diplomatic isolation of Iran. "Their leaders should be made to feel like those of Apartheid South Africa," he said in September 2007. He also says that increased participation in curbing nuclear Iran by other Arab states is needed. In an April 27, 2007 speech at Yeshiva University, Romney emphasized the threat posed by Iran. While he said it was a good idea to engage Iran on Iraqi developments, Romney opposed bilateral talks on Iran’s nuclear program, saying “we shouldn’t let Iran try to position it as an Iran vs. a U.S. thing.” Romney, like many of his fellow candidates, says that “the military option remains on the table.” According to his campaign website, Romney has “led efforts and called on numerous private sector and state officials to strategically divest from Iran and cut off the resources Iran uses to fuel terror.”

Climate Change

Until recently, Romney largely avoided stating his opinion as to whether or not climate change exists or is caused by humans, according to a 2004 Boston Globe article. Since beginning his presidential campaign, however, Romney became more willing to concede that "climate change is occurring" and that human activity is a contributing factor.

As Massachusetts governor, Romney introduced his Climate Protection Plan in 2004, which “encourages private citizens and requires state agencies and the state's large businesses to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” As governor, he also refused to enter with other northeastern states into a pact, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to curb carbon emissions because it did not provide for price controls to curb energy costs.


Romney generally took a hard-line approach to illegal immigration. He spoke out against the comprehensive immigration reform bill that stalled in Senate (NYT) in June 2007, calling it "a form of amnesty." (ABC)

Romney says the United States should implement an "enforceable employer verification system" using biometrically-enabled identification cards (PDF) for non-citizens. On the Bill O'Reilly Show in 2006, Romney said, “you have to have a tamper-proof document to make sure that people who are here [and] are aliens are identified and registered, and people cannot hire them unless they're here legally.”

As the governor of Massachusetts, Romney received Washington's approval to allow state troopers to enforce federal immigration law (BosGlobe) and arrest illegal immigrants.

Romney advocates cutting federal funding illegal immigrant "sanctuary cities." This has been a key talking point of his campaign rhetoric, and he has often criticized Giuliani, (FOX) saying he turned New York City into such a sanctuary during his time as mayor.

Romney opposes amnesty measures.

United Nations

Romney has been critical of the United Nations. In an April 2007 speech, Romney said, “the failures of the UN are simply astonishing.” He cited the United Nations Human Rights Council as an example of these failures. Still, Romney said, neither isolationism nor U.S. unilateralism are sound postures for foreign policy. “America's strength is amplified when it is combined with the strength of other nations.”

U.S. Policy toward Russia

Romney advocates “a lot of cooperation” with Russia, as well as “frank and open discussions” about the state of democracy there. He also said in an April 2007 speech that the United States should work to secure “the vast amount of highly enriched nuclear material in their country.”

Romney supports the planned National Missile Defense program of the Bush administration.

U.S. Policy toward Pakistan

Romney says the United States should try to bolster moderate forces in Pakistan to prevent “radical jihadists” from taking power.

At an August 2007 Republican debate, Romney criticized Obama’s plan to enter Pakistan with “actionable intelligence” to pursue al-Qaeda. Obama “says he wants to unilaterally go in and potentially bomb a nation which is our friend,” said Romney. “We’re trying to strengthen Musharraf. We’re trying to strengthen the foundations of democracy and freedom in that country so that they will be able to reject the extremists.”

Nuclear Nonproliferation

Romney has often stressed the importance of preventing states like Iran and “jihadists” from obtaining nuclear weapons. Romney was asked about the prospect of using tactical nuclear weapons against Iran’s nuclear facilities at a June 2007 Republican debate. He said, “you don’t take options off the table” but stressed the importance of an invigorated broader policy for engaging moderate Muslims to counter extremism in Muslim-majority states.

Romney has said little on the issue of reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and has not indicated whether he favors a nuclear test ban. He has said enforcement of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is “often lacking.” Romney says if elected he will appoint a senior “ambassador-at-large” to rally nations to prevent nuclear terrorism.

Romney called the Bush administration’s Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism “a good start,” but in an April 2007 speech said it should be accelerated and expanded. He also has said he would create an international initiative to make nuclear trafficking a crime against humanity.