Beginning shortly after the close of his 2012 presidential bid, Mitt Romney has kept a pretty low profile. However, the recent Sundance Film Festival has forced some renewed public attention on him with the screening of the documentary, Mitt, by filmmaker Greg Whiteley, along with the film’s availability on the popular media streaming service Netflix. The film eschews politics for an intimate look at Mitt and the Romney family during both the 2008 and 2012 presidential runs.
In this episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon is joined by political watchers McKay Coppins and John Hatch to discuss the film and the wider legacy for Mormonism created by Romney’s bids for the presidency. They talk about the film, especially the parts that clearly portray (or hint at) the family’s Mormonism. They also discuss the lasting, and they judge quite positive, legacy for Mormons in national politics and wider culture that is tied in some ways to Romney’s campaigns.
We look forward to your listening and sharing your own comments below!
McKay Coppins, “I Watched the New Mitt Romney Documentary With My Wife And It Was A Huge Mistake,” BuzzFeed, 27 January 2014
RadioWest interview with Mitt director Greg Whitely
Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Double Down: Game Change 2012 (Penguin, 2013).
Great discussion guys. A few small errata.
Almost all GOP contenders in the debate you mentioned said they believe in evolution:
I think the Romney’s praised President Obama as a great debater (“he’s way better than those other guys”) and the way the he carries the “mantle of the presidency” was also a complement.
Thanks again for the discussion.
Thanks for these notes, Dave!
One thing I was surprised you guys didn’t bring up – I thought the way Ann Romney was portrayed in the documentary was SO MORMON. The way she stood kind of off to the side, quietly supporting her husband. She rarely said it was difficult – most of the clips where she’s actually speaking talk about how she has peace with everything. It seemed to be so representative of the silent, supportive wife that is so prevalent in Mormonism, particularly among Mormon leadership! How many times have we heard GAs proudly proclaim that their wives stood by them, always supportive, and never once complained?
I wondered why Ann wasn’t talked about as well. Dan, after you prompted the speakers several times to talk about Mormon “tells” in the film, I wonder why no one brought up the fact that Ann very frequently does not wear garments. I was given the Romney cookbook for Christmas and was stunned that in the 40 years of photographs therein, most showed her very obviously without garments. Several of the son’s wives were also obviously not wearing’ g’s. Only some of Ann’s outfits could possibly have covered garments, but in those there were no smile lines or Rocky Mountain Ridges. (Were they retouched? Mitts g’s weren’t.) Also, many bloggers and news reporters pointed out that during the debates, she was not wearing garments. (Google it!)
What Ann Romney decides to wear is between her and the Lord, but I think that the image of the “silent, supportive wife that is so prevalent in Mormonism, particularly among Mormon leadership!” is just a big lie. I’m really sorry, but you can’t compare Ann Romney to the wives and mothers of Prophets if she isn’t a temple goer. And, if she never/rarely wears garments why was Mitt a Stake President? If she never/rarely wears garments, why are they depicted in this movie as the typical Mormon family? Does Ann put on a smile and pretend, yet harbor cognitive dissonance toward Mormonism? (She’s more liberal in her views about abortion, so perhaps she has more liberal ideas about Mormonism as well?) Wouldn’t it have been interesting if somebody had asked this woman some pointed questions instead of just letting her take the mic and play Molly Mormon, smiling and talking about family? Smoke screen anyone?
Isn’t it interesting that Mormons aren’t noticing this “tell”?
Dan, I love your podcasts (have listened to every one), but we need to find you a few more extremely sharp female theologians and Mormon experts to join your podcasts. (Don’t get me wrong, your conversations and guests are phenomenal!) It’s just that sometimes a woman’s perspective can complete the story!
Some women like myself have medical reasons why they cannot wear garments regularly- yeast infections, anxiety, skin issues, etc. You can still get a temple recommend if you are at peace with God on the issue and have understanding priesthood leaders. I don’t think this “tell” is necessarily that telling without Anne’s say.