Seeking to show Americans that he can understand their troubles, multimillionaire GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been harping on the supposedly hardscrabble 30 months he spent in France as a Mormon missionary. Romney said he lived in apartments that were so rundown that he was forced to defecate in a bucket and shower with a hose. “Most of the apartments I lived in had no refrigerators,” Romney said last week at a town hall New Hampshire. “I don’t actually recall any of them having a refrigerator.” Watch it, via Patch:
But according to fellow American missionaries who spoke with the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, Romney not only had a refrigerator and toilet, but a lot more. The missionaries said Romney spent most of his time in France in a Paris mansion that some described as a “palace.” It featured a cook, a servant, stained glass windows and expensive art, and later became an embassy:
Although he spent time in other French cities, for most of 1968, Mr Romney lived in the Mission Home, a 19th century neoclassical building in the French capital’s chic 16th arrondissement. “It was a house built by and for rich people,” said Richard Anderson, the son of the mission president at the time of Mr Romney’s stay. “I would describe it as a palace”. […]
The building, on Rue de Lota, was bought by the Mormons in 1952, having been seized by the Nazis during the Second World War. The Church sold it again in the 1970s, and it was until recently the embassy of the United Arab Emirates. It is currently worth as much as $12 million (£7.7 million).
It’s entirely possible that Romney lived in hovels in addition to the Mission Home, but it seems clear that Romney has been exaggerating the story of his lean years in France a bit.