Potential Republican presidential nominee Mitt has recently attempted to state himself as an ordinary guy to Americans, providing voters with tales of living a poor life in France.
It seems his try failed when a different picture appeared today revealing Mr Romney’s life while serving as a Mormon missionary abroad in the 1960s.
“A number of the apartments I lived in when I was there didn’t have toilets,” Mr Romney said in Hudson, New Hampshire, according to the New York Times.
He added: “We had instead the little pads on the ground. OK, you know how that works. There was a chain behind you. It was kind of a bucket affair.”
How it was found out, the candidate 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 of the 1960s. “I would describe it as a palace”.
Besides, Mr Anderson said Romney aides had asked him not to speak publicly about their time together there.
The ‘palace’, on Rue de Lota, was bought by the Mormons in 1952, having been seized by the Nazis during the Second World War. It was sold again in the 1970s, and it was until recently the embassy of the United Arab Emirates. It is currently costs about $12 million (£7.7 million).
Romney moved getting a post of assistant to the president, Duane Anderson. He arrived in the spring of 1968, weeks before Paris erupted into riots, and returned to the US that December. The room ay Mr Romney’s disposal was situated on the third floor.
“They were very big rooms,” said Christian Euvrard, the director of the Mormon-run Institute of Religion in Paris, who also knew the candidate. “Very comfortable. The building had beautiful gilded interiors, a magnificent staircase in cast iron, and an immense hall.”
The room had all the necessary facilities, including a combination washer-dryer machine, Mr Anderson said. “I never saw anything like it in another private home at that time.”
Jean Caussé, a Mormon who met Mr Romney in Bordeaux, said that Romney would never live in sach bad conditions as he described. “I never knew missionaries who had to do that,” Caussé said. “I don’t see why he would have lived in conditions like that for two years when it was far from the general case”.
Mr Romney’s apartments in Paris were fully plumbed and central heated. “All of the missionary rooms had something like a bath or a shower attached to it,” said Mr Anderson. “The home had several”.
Well, it quite an obvious contrast to lodgings in working class areas given to other missionaries in Paris at the same time. “It was much better than the other places,” said one, Alan Eastman. “Most of us stayed in rented apartments quite a way from luxurious”.
Moreover, Mr Romney “would have been on the same amount of money as the rest of us, about $125 per month,” said Mr Eastman – about $813 (£524) per month in today’s money.
Mr Anderson added that Romney’s Mormon allies tried to show his natural leadership skills. But it is “a story that his campaign doesn’t want spread around,” he said. He declined to say who on the Romney team made this request. “I’ve been in email contact with his eldest son Tagg, who is an old friend,” he said. “Tagg basically does what the campaign says”.
One Mormon friend who has known Mr Romney not for one day said: “The campaign’s line is that whenever people talk about his missionary time, people try to make him sound like a kook”.