Romney says Mormon mission taught him how to be frugal

Dec 13 2011 - 12:28pm

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Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, gestures during a speech as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listens at a fundraising event in Parsippany, N.J., Monday, Dec. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, introduces Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during a fundraising event in Parsippany, N.J., Monday, Dec. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, gestures during a speech at a fundraising event in Parsippany, N.J., Monday, Dec. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gestures during a campaign stop with mill workers at the Madison Lumber Mill, Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 in Madison, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets mill workers at the Madison Lumber Mill, Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 in Madison, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, gestures during a speech as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listens at a fundraising event in Parsippany, N.J., Monday, Dec. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, introduces Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during a fundraising event in Parsippany, N.J., Monday, Dec. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, gestures during a speech at a fundraising event in Parsippany, N.J., Monday, Dec. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gestures during a campaign stop with mill workers at the Madison Lumber Mill, Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 in Madison, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets mill workers at the Madison Lumber Mill, Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 in Madison, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

HUDSON, N.H. -- Mitt Romney has been criticized for being too guarded and impersonal on the campaign trail.

But on Sunday in Hudson, N.H., when a voter asked him to share an experience that had changed his world view, the Republican presidential contender opened up about how his experience as a Mormon missionary in France gave him an appreciation for the privileges of his upbringing.

Romney noted that he had grown up "with a great deal of affluence" as the son of an auto executive who became Michigan's governor.

But in living on no more than $110 a month in France -- which Romney said was the equivalent of $500 or $600 in today's dollars -- the former Massachusetts governor said he learned to live simply. His stint in France began in 1966 when he was 19 and lasted 2 1/2 years.

His budget had to cover food, clothing and rent, so he lived in a series of apartments with few amenities.

"A number of the apartments that I lived in ... didn't have toilets -- we had instead the little pads on the ground," he said. "OK, you know how that works, pull -- there was a chain behind you with kind of a bucket, bucket affair. I had not experienced one of those."

Romney said he and his fellow missionaries showered once a week at a facility where they could pay a few francs. "Or if we were lucky, we actually bought a hose and would hold it there on the sink ... and wash ourselves that way," he said.

"I lived in a way that people of lower middle income in France lived and I said to myself, 'Wow, I sure am lucky to be born in the United States of America,' " he said.

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

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