FAMILY ISSUES

04.19.12

Brian Schweitzer: Mitt Romney’s ‘Family Came From a Polygamy Commune in Mexico’

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer says Mitt Romney’s roots in Mexico will hurt him with female voters.

The Daily Beast contacted the office of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer today to talk about whether his state would be in play in the 2012 presidential election. About a half hour later, the governor called back, and he had a lot to say. He didn’t think that Montana would be a swing state, but the Democrat did say that Mitt Romney could have issues nationally because his father was “born on a polygamy commune in Mexico.”

While discussing swing states, Schweitzer said Romney would have a “tall order to position Hispanics to vote for him,” and I replied that was mildly ironic since Mitt’s father was born in Mexico, giving the clan a nominal claim to being Hispanic. Schweitzer replied that it is “kinda ironic given that his family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy.” Women, he said, are “not great fans of polygamy, 86 percent were not great fans of polygamy. I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico.”

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Andrew Sullivan and Ross Douthat on how religion and politics intersect.

Romney’s father, George—who served as governor of Michigan and was a member of the Nixon cabinet and also a presidential candidate—was born in Mexico in 1907 to a family of American Mormons who fled to Mexico when the United States government cracked down on the practice of polygamy. George Romney’s parents were in a monogamous marriage, but Mexico was the last bastion for the practice of plural marriage in the Church of Latter Day Saints. (The church has since expressly prohibited the practice.)

While the Obama campaign has ruled Romney’s faith off-limits, it was the subject of some attacks from evangelicals during the GOP primary.

Romney’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Schweitzer’s remarks.

In response to Governor Schweitzer’s comments, Obama campaign spokesperson Lis Smith said “Attacking a candidate's religion is out of bounds, and our campaign will not engage in it, and we don’t think others should either.”