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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