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“My impression is that he is running for office to be elected on the coattails of Ron Packard’s following,” Al Diederich, manager of the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, said to the Times reporter. “I have a high regard for Congressman Packard. I don’t know that Mr. Romney has paid his dues to the community. I think you ought to have a little record of some time of community service that more than scratches the surface.”

Oceanside City Councilman John MacDonald, Romney’s opponent, sent a mailer to voters pointing out that Romney had been: “Elected to a local school board — quit after one year of a four-year term. Appointed as aide and campaign manager to a congressman in Washington — quit in midterm to return to North County to run for office.”

Romney attempted to counter this characterization in a 1986 interview with the Los Angeles Times: “John MacDonald resembles North County’s [incumbent] elected officials. He is very much a product of the Establishment in the coastal communities. Clyde Romney, on the other hand, is considerably younger and more representative of the types of families that have been moving into North County for the last decade or more.”

It was Romney’s campaign theme, the new replacing the old, but like his cousin Mitt, Clyde remained deeply rooted in his church, its rituals and values, no matter how mysterious and controversial they might seem to outsiders. Mitt and Clyde shared a great-great-grandfather, Miles A. Romney, the Mormon convert who as a young man sailed from Liverpool, England, to America in 1841 with his wife and small family, thus launching the Romney dynasty.

Mitt was descended from Miles A. Romney’s son, Miles Park Romney, who was sent by the church to establish Colonia Juárez in Mexico, where Mitt’s father George, the future governor of Michigan, was born. Clyde was descended from another of Miles A. Romney’s sons, George, who was born in England six years before the family came to America. He was the namesake of a famous painter.

The Romneys of England already had a long and storied history, note biographers Kranish and Helman. “They came from the quiet village of Lower Penwortham, near Liverpool, England. For years Romneys had been moving out and on; one named George Romney had gone to London and become a celebrated eighteenth-century portrait painter. But most were of modest means.” The George Romney who came to America would become a prosperous merchant and Mormon bishop, ultimately taking three brides and fathering 33 children before dying in 1920 at 89 in Salt Lake City.

The Romneys of England produced a famous 18th-century portait painter, George Romney.

The Romneys of England produced a famous 18th-century portait painter, George Romney.

However modern and progressive a candidate as Clyde tried to portray himself during the 1986 campaign, he would ultimately trip himself up. With a little more than two weeks until election day, he sent a telegram to the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service. In the wire, he called North County a “combat zone” infested by “huge gangs of illegal aliens that line our streets, shake down our schoolchildren, spread diseases like malaria, and roam our neighborhoods, looking for work or homes to rob.”

Latino political groups, infuriated by the statement, went on the attack, and, despite the best door-hanging efforts of the now-familiar smiling Mormon legions, MacDonald beat Romney by a wide margin. “I regretted the play that issue got,” Romney told a Los Angeles Times reporter in an interview the following summer. “When that story broke it put me in a defensive position when I was trying to come up with an affirmative solution to a serious problem. People who knew me knew I was deeply hurt to be labeled a racist.”

He had subsequently apologized to his Latino critics, he said.

“I very deliberately waited until after the race to make a public apology, because I wanted no ulterior motives attached to it,” he said. “It was your basic mea culpa statement.”

Romney attempted a comeback by running for Palomar College’s board of trustees in 1988, but placed at the back of the pack. A lawyer, he continued to practice. He set up a lobbying business with his former boss Ron Packard, known as Packard Government Affairs, when the Republican retired from Congress. Romney’s already sizable role in local Mormon affairs grew even broader when he became San Diego Regional Public Affairs director for the church.

Reporters often asked him about the matter of the Saints’ dictum against homosexuality. Interviewed for a lengthy September 1993 San Diego Union-Tribune piece about how local churches were dealing with the AIDS epidemic with outreach programs and charity, Romney said that Mormonism is “very specific in its condemnation of homosexual lifestyle and practices.” There were no outreach programs. Mormons, he said, advised gays to “bring their lives into conformity with the teachings of the church.”

In 1992, he proudly led curious reporters through the construction site of the faith’s new $24 million San Diego temple as it was rising above Interstate 5 in University City. It would be crowned by a gleaming, gold-gilded statue of the trumpet-wielding Angel Moroni, who, Mormons believe, materialized in a New York forest in 1823 to give church founder Joseph Smith a set of golden plates containing tenets of the new faith. These would later be set down by Smith in the Book of Mormon.

Among other roles in the local church hierarchy, Romney was a chief fundraiser for the new temple. He was also chairman of its grand opening and sanctification festivities, a way of introducing nonbelievers, all regarded by the Mormons as potential converts, to the church. “When completed, it will be as widely identified with San Diego as the Coronado Bay Bridge and the Convention Center,” Romney predicted. Added an aide, “We believe families exist into eternity, and the function of the temple is to see that their marriages are sealed for eternity.”

One sunny Saturday in late August 2006, two decades after his failed race for supervisor, Clyde Romney collapsed and died while working in his garden. He was 63. He left his wife, Deborah Dedekind Romney, and six children, one of whom was named Miles.

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MillyStrodtman Oct. 24, 2012 @ 11 p.m.

Bob Filner is our only choice for Mayor of San Diego in 2012. When you live in the Largest Military Town in America, you need experienced leadership. Many in the Military Community do not think Carl DeMaio could do a good enough job running a City like ours San Diego, CA. This City has had ineffective leadership for so many years leaving our City in shambles. Bob Filner has the knowledge and the proven ability to restore San Diego to its former glory. DeMaio has no way to handle this much responsibility at this point in his career. DeMaio says he will stand up to the downtown interest and this is simply not true. DeMaio talks about closing some of our Military Bases which would leave our Nation more vulnerable in the future. Bob Filner will take care of Americas Veteran’s and ensure our Nations Security for many years to come. Bob Filner is our only choice for Mayor of San Diego, 2012.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 25, 2012 @ 8:20 a.m.

Stop spamming the place with your copy and paste propaganda.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 27, 2012 @ 3:43 p.m.

Ouchie-Filner may not recover...I cannot recall what happened with that, but will bet $10K Filkner was never charged.

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Javajoe25 Oct. 25, 2012 @ 8:20 p.m.

Yea, Milly, this is not the way to convince folks to vote for Bob Filner. This is where we get to talk about those crackpot Mormons.

Very wealthy crackpots, but total looney-tunes just the same. The one thing I do like about the Mormon religion is that it got rolling as the result of a conversation Joe Smith had with an angel named Moroni. Check it out-- an Italian angel! Who would have guessed? Anything that gets the Italians top billing is cool with me. And now I understand what the deal was with those plates that Smith and Moroni passed back and forth: Pizza! Had to be.

The other thing I like about Mormons is that they build temples that look like Disneyland. I cannot understand how people who have such incredible architectural ideas, can be so delusional about everything else.

And then there's the polygamy thing. Oh yea. I hear you, brothers. The more the merrier...as long as the girls buy it, I'm down. That never would have flown with the ladies I've known, but hey-- you know what they say: What Moroni wants...

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Burwell Oct. 25, 2012 @ 10:58 p.m.

Carl DeMaio is a corn fed carpetbagger from Dubuque Iowa who came to San Diego to strip the city bare.

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Javajoe25 Oct. 26, 2012 @ 12:30 p.m.

I could not agree more. I just hope a majority of SD citizens see that. DeMaio would be a disaster for SD. He's worse than a Mormon!

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monaghan Oct. 26, 2012 @ 2:37 p.m.

I loved this story. Lotta research. Calm tone and well-written. Illustrates the foundational "core values" of these made-in-America Mormon folks: polygamy, $ucce$$ in material matter$ and homophobia.

And since Milly has forced the issue onto every page of Matt Potter's handiwork, let's all get behind Bob Filner for Mayor.

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Dorian Hargrove Oct. 28, 2012 @ 11:09 a.m.

Mindy, where was "Brother Clyde's" character ever questioned? I'm sure he was a nice man, a great big teddy bear as you say. But this story wasn't about Clyde and his great big heart, but about the Romney's presence in San Diego County. And, if using Clyde's own words makes him look bad, well that was Clyde's fault.

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Dorian Hargrove Oct. 31, 2012 @ 9:23 a.m.

No, you didn't call Clyde a "snake-oil salesman" and neither did the author. And I never called you a hick.

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monaghan Oct. 27, 2012 @ 11:02 a.m.

Gosh, Mindy, I thought the author was remarkably detached and even-handed in describing the history of Romneys out here in SoCal. What was "inaccurate?"

The commenters are another story, of course, as they seem to carry some strong bias about Mormonism, but maybe you, as an insider, can correct any alleged errors that made it into print.

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Javajoe25 Oct. 27, 2012 @ 9:08 p.m.

Mindy, is sounds to me like you are going through a lot of pain over this so I'm not going to get into it too much with you here.

I'm happy for you if you have fond memories of the Romneys and how they brought Christmas trees and presents to your door when you were in need. But you should keep in mind that Mitt Romney became a very wealthy man by shutting down American companies and having the work done overseas, and the thousands of people who lost their jobs as a result did not have anyone show up at their door with Christmas trees or presents. That's the thing with the Mormons; if they think you are worth it, they will help you out. Otherwise, as far as they are concerned, you can go to hell.

If you're a believer, you better pray Romney does not get elected President or we will all see just how little he really cares about this country and the people who live in it.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 28, 2012 @ 12:59 a.m.

But you should keep in mind that Mitt Romney became a very wealthy man by shutting down American companies and having the work done overseas, and the thousands of people who lost their jobs as a result did not have anyone show up at their door with Christmas trees or presents.

I have the same problem with Romney-he sent jobs overseas, now wants to be president-that's why I would not vote for him.

Obama is no better and has been a full on flop. I did not vote for him either-I did a write in protest vote for Hillary Clinton. Could not vote for either main party candidates with a clear and clean conscience.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 28, 2012 @ 1:03 a.m.

If you're a believer, you better pray Romney does not get elected President or we will all see just how little he really cares about this country and the people who live in it.

Obama hasn't done jack to help anyone except gov employees. His work at getting the economic engine running again has been a complete and total failure, and he has broken all promises that he made to get elected. He has taken more Wall Street money than any previous president and not prosecuted a SINGLE Wall Street scammer.

Total failure IMO. Healthcare was a great goal, but at the wrong time.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 28, 2012 @ 12:56 a.m.

You can imagine how well I fit in there.

Hahahahah...Yeah, I have the same problem, I won't let anyone roll me!

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monaghan Oct. 28, 2012 @ 1:23 p.m.

Wow. I'm voting for Obama. And I'm praying for every woman who doesn't have the brain and heart to do the same. And for every student whose school loans will suddenly become unavailable. And for every senior whose Social Security will disappear and whose Medicare will become a voucher plan. And for every mother of a soldier whose child will become more cannon fodder in foreign wars. And for every worker who got a new job after the auto industry was saved from ruin. Obama drew a terrible hand when he got elected in 2008. His record has been solid. I want him back in office to finish the tough job ahead.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 28, 2012 @ 8:16 p.m.

His record has been solid. I want him back in office to finish the tough job ahead.

His "record" has been a disaster. He has only ran the credit card sky high.

Is Romney any better- I doubt it-but two wrongs never make a right. Stop spinning.

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monaghan Oct. 28, 2012 @ 7:49 p.m.

Wow again. I think I'll pass, Mindy: we never hit women. Don't be misled by rich positive-thinking liars: Obama for President. Filner for Mayor.

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Andy Cohen Nov. 2, 2012 @ 11:28 p.m.

I appreciate the way of writing and research done (if its all true). Still personally I don't think this will matter enough for Romney in the 2012 US elections. Romney has only one recent issue when he goes through an aggressive debate during Final Presidential Debate http://sandiegofreepress.org/2012/10/shapeshifting-romney-smacked-around-in-final-presidential-debate/. But this will not be stretched long. (just hoping)

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Letter to the Editor Nov. 4, 2012 @ 12:04 p.m.

As a woman, Icannot bring myself to vote for Romney/Ryan.

I grew up in the '50s-'60s when abortion was illegal. Women died by the thousands across the U.S. Rich women took a cruise or toured Europe & were gone for a year & either had their child & put it up for adoption, brought it home as a fake adoption, or had a safe, though expensive, abortion in Switzerland. Poor women had no birth control other than denying their husbands & suffered through 10- or 20-odd pregnancies (suffering when she has no rest between pregnancies — 3 years between children recommended), died young, trusted a stranger to abort in unsanitary conditions, or did it themselves with a hanger or other device. Husbands simply remarried - they needed someone to care for their children, cook meals, wash, etc.

Planned Parenthood, vilified by those on the far right, had the best birth control class I've ever taken, including college & post-graduate psychology & physiology classes. Employees were warm, succinct, unshockable. (I was a naive 17-year-old, who thought only young & beautiful people had sex). I'll always be grateful to them for helping people (both men & women) on a sliding scale. Those who bombed clinics didn't seem to realize they treated women, their children, & did very well-qualified prenatal & post-natal care.

No one is in favor of abortion, but I refuse to make a 14-year-old girl risk her life to bear a child as a result of rape. Nor would I expect any woman to bear a child that has no brain, & therefore not the slightest chance of survival. Nor do I want to return to the '50s when a woman's only choices for a career were limited to teaching, nursing, or prostitution. I have no desire to return to being thought of as a second class citizen or criticized for taking a job from a man who needs to support his family. I thank God every day I work as a school bus driver for Title IX, without which I wouldn't have that job. Duke didn't want to hire me, though I aced the written & physical tests: we had to lift a 75lb bean bag in/out of a wheelchair & special needs van, because "all women do is stand around & talk".

I understand a man's resentment of the freedom birth control has given women, & truly wish all people remained chaste until marriage, but they don't. I wish our globe wasn't overcrowded & that there were simple solutions to pollution, but there aren't.

The USA is a wonderful country. I feel blessed to live here, but it's not a business & cannot be run like one. We're full of diverse & amazing people who work hard to make things better for their families, but we also need to take care of poor, lazy, incompetent people as well. The churches haven't managed to accomplish that for several centuries now - I don't see it happening tomorrow either.

It's common sense that if we spend money on healthcare for babies, they have a chance to grow up to contribute to, rather than detract from the economy. I don't think that's socialism. Rebecca Kiperts

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