George Romney's 1964 RNC 'walk out' myth debunked

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Mitt Romney’s father and former Michigan governor George Romney was a legendary moderate Republican. He was an outspoken proponent of civil rights at a time when his party was beginning to distance itself from African-Americans.

In fact, his legacy as a maverick has also been compared unfavorably to his son’s, who has largely hewed to conservative principles during his campaign for the presidency.

One of the most infamous, and widely reported, moments of George Romney’s political career was his alleged decision to “walk out” of the Republican National Convention in 1964, when the GOP nominated the anti-Civil Rights Act right-winger Barry Goldwater as the party’s standard bearer.

However, recent reports have debunked this version of the events. According to Buzzfeed, “George Romney did not walk out of the 1964 Republican National Convention. He stayed until the very end, formally seconding Goldwater’s eventual nomination and later standing by while an actual walkout took place.”

While Romney remained ambivalent about Goldwater’s candidacy, his close aides have no memory of him dramatically exiting the RNC in protest.

“I don’t remember him walking out, no,” Walt DeVries, a close George Romney aide who was with him at the 1964 convention, told BuzzFeed in October. “Every time I see that quote from Mitt, I just don’t remember…. I’ve searched my mind, and I think I would have.”

This is not the first time George Romney’s record as a civil rights advocate has been overstated. Back in 2008, Mitt Romney was ridiculed for claiming he once saw his father march alongside Martin Luther King Jr., only to have his story refuted by numerous journalists and publications.