‘Mitt is a cheapskate,” says Fraser Bullock, lifelong friend, fellow Bain partner and fellow Mormon. “He watches every penny. This is in his DNA.”
When Romney goes to the movies, he pops a bag of his own popcorn at home, stuffs it into his wife’s purse and sneaks it into the movie theater so he doesn’t have to buy a snack he considers overpriced.
The candidate has thoroughly incorporated the modern instantaneous connectivity of his iPad into his now-frenetic life, but he downloads only free applications, friends say. He is so rigid about this that he continued to revise his speeches through a cumbersome process of text changes in e-mails, complaining all the while — but refusing to buy Apple’s Pages word-processing program because it costs $9.99. Finally, a senior staffer told an aide to buy it and download it onto Romney’s iPad when he wasn’t around.
Some might applaud Romney’s insistence on freeware as a harbinger of a president who would rein in spending and cut waste.
Others might question if that’s the best use of his high-priced time — and why he would not want to spend money on the entrepreneurs and creative minds who developed the product.
“He respects money very much, he is conscious of it, he wants to get maximum value out of it,” says Cindy Gillespie, whom Romney hired as the D.C.-based lobbyist for the Salt Lake City Winter Games. “But at the same time, he is not in any way personally cheap.”
He gave her a tight budget for office space, “and I went thrifting and I found a great spot on Connecticut Avenue between Burrito Brothers and Bubbles Hair Salon in a third-floor walk-up,” she says, which she furnished with beat-up discards from the General Services Administration. “The place was awful, but he loved it.”
Earlier in the campaign, before he received Secret Service protection this year and began using a chartered plane on the campaign, Romney flew coach and even refused to pay the $10 to Southwest Airlines to earn early boarding. But he had no objections to letting one of his top strategists buy a better boarding position — and expense it.
He has a taste for both fine French restaurants and neighborhood ethnic joints, and he tips well at both, say those who have served him and dined with him.