Why did Mitt Romney trade in his Mustang convertible for a cargo van?

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney is following in his dad’s footsteps once again.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee recently popped into a Ford dealership in New Hampshire to trade in his Mustang convertible for – wait for it – a 15-passenger cargo van.

You might be thinking, midlife crisis in reverse. But there’s a likely reason Romney – grandfather to 20 and counting – bought a Ford Econoline van.

Romney’s late father, George, the former Michigan governor and 1968 presidential candidate, also had an Econoline. In the summer, George would pack the van with grandchildren and spend 30 days straight driving from national park to national park – all to introduce his offspring to the natural beauty of America. George also took Mitt on a similar trip when he was a young boy, something Mitt talked about in 2011 as he campaigned for the GOP presidential nomination.

“As we went from park to park and we saw the beauty of the land, I knew he wasn’t just teaching my kids and me about the beauty of America – the majesty of our mountains, the power of our rivers and lakes and canyons and so forth. He was also teaching us about the character of the men and women of this country,” Romney said at a town hall meeting in Keene, N.H., in August 2011.

In his stump speeches that summer in New Hampshire, Romney told the story to instill in voters’ minds his love of country. And he also read from an uplifting poem, written by Samuel Walter Foss, a 19th-century poet from New Hampshire, published in Irving Stone’s “Men to Match My Mountains.”

“Bring me men to match my mountains, bring me men to match my plains; men with empires in their purpose and new eras in their brains,” Romney said, reciting the poem.

At that town hall meeting in Keene, Romney said he and his wife, Ann, had been reminiscing about George’s cross-country trips in the Econoline.

“I asked Ann, I said, ‘Do you think we’ll do the same thing when our grandkids reach those ages?’ ” Romney said.

It seems we now know the answer.

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Aaron Blake | June 28, 2013