Campaigning for Dad
Thursday, December 20, 2007; 10:00 AM
Tagg Romney, eldest son of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was online Thursday, Dec. 20 at 10 a.m. ET to answer readers' questions about his father's campaign, his role in it, and what it's like to have a parent running for president.
The transcript follows.
Tagg Romney recently moved from Los Angeles to Boston to serve as a senior advisor and surrogate on his father's presidential Campaign. In Los Angeles, Tagg worked for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as their Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to that he managed strategic planning for Reebok, and for Irish biopharmaceutical company Elan.
Herndon, Va.: Being the son and grandson of famous politicians, can we expect you to someday run for office in your own right?
Tagg Romney: My wife would kill me if I said yes to that question! My grandfather told me never to run because I wanted to, but because I was in position to do something about an issue I felt passionately about. So maybe someday, but certainly no plans yet
Arlington, Va.: Why were you named after a children's game?
Tagg Romney: Hey -- play fair. Tagg is short for Taggart. I was named after Tag Taggart, a friend of my parents from Brigham Young University. My middle name is Mitt, which wasn't much better in the eighth grade. Mitt, by the way, comes from my grandfather's cousin, Milton Romney, who was a quarterback for the Chicago Bears. Unfortunately, his athletic prowess didn't get passed on to me or my Dad.
And yes, I have heard every "Tagg, you're it" joke you can possibly imagine. But people tend to remember it, at least.
Ames, Iowa: I disagree with my dad on a number of issues, so I am curious about the policy issues on which you disagree with Mitt Romney. In particular, your father has changed his mind on key social issues lately, primarily on gay and abortion rights. Do you disagree with his new social views as a presidential candidate (e.g., against gay rights) or with his views when he was running for office in Massachusetts?
Tagg Romney: I actually disagree with the premise of the question. My dad has been very upfront with the fact that he changed his position on the abortion issue. He's in good company, by the way -- George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan made the same transition. Other notable politicians who changed position the other way include many Democratic leaders (e.g. Al Gore). People don't tend to give them a hard time about that, as the media tends to view that as an enlightenment rather than a change in positions.
On the gay rights issue, he has the same position today that he always has: He is opposed to discrimination against people for any reason, including their sexual orientation, but he believes that marriage ought to be preserved as a union between a man and a woman. He was pretty clear on this point in 2002 when he ran for governor, and he feels the same way today.
Fairfax, Va.: I know this is mostly about your dad's campaign, but I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how you got involved with the Dodgers and any advice you have relating to that? Thanks!
Tagg Romney: I warn you not to get me started talking about sports. I'm a huge baseball/football/basketball fan and was lucky enough in 2002 to land a marketing job with Reebok. From there I was recruited to work at the Dodgers. It was a fantastic experience and I feel very fortunate to have been able to work for a pro baseball team, particularly one with as much history as the Dodgers. One of my greatest privileges there was to be able to work alongside great broadcasters, such as Vin Scully, Jaime Jarrin, Rick Monday and Charley Steiner. I learned a lot from them, and it's an experience I'll never forget. But now I am totally focused on helping my dad with the nomination and presidency. It's a lot more important than baseball (and almost as much fun)
Dallas: Why, to this date in the 21st century, do elected officials feel the need to place their voice into other people's private lives and say that we the people can't live that way or be that way?
Tagg Romney: Interesting question. I think a lot of us are frustrated by those who are attempting to expand the role and size of government. Did you see Hillary Clinton's latest ad? She was wrapping Christmas gifts for the American people -- universal pre-K, universal health care, etc. She was right when she said she had a million ideas -- America just can't afford them all. My dad believes that the greatness of the America comes from the American people -- not the government.
Dunn Loring, Va.: Let's see if you'll answer this one: If the "war against Islamofacism" is the greatest struggle of our time, as your party puts it, why won't you or one of your four healthy brothers volunteer to serve in either the military or the reserve military? Particularly as the military has problems recruiting top-notch people and has relaxed the admission standards?
Tagg Romney: Happy to answer it, thanks for the question. At the time I would have joined the military, we weren't fighting a war and the military was being downsized by Bill Clinton (I think he referred to it as a peace dividend). I decided to go into business and actively have been pursuing that career ever since. I have extraordinary respect for those who voluntarily decide to serve in the military -- they are true heroes and deserve to be treated as such.
Niles, Mich.: Do all Mormons serve as overseas missionaries, or just those who are supported by their local congregations? Thanks for helping me understand your Dad's overseas time during the late 1960s.
Tagg Romney: I'm getting a few questions about Mormon missions. Another one: "Philadelphia: Where did you serve your mission year, what did you do, and how did the experience affect you?"
I served my mission in Bordeaux France in 1989. I loved it and it helped me become a much stronger person in many ways. Not everyone who serves an LDS mission goes overseas; you don't really get to pick where you go. Most people are expected to pay their own way with their family's help. For those who can't afford it, the local congregation helps out. My dad's mission was an important time for him as well -- the Boston Globe did a fairly extensive profile piece that included a lot of material on that time in his life.
All that being said, my dad gave a great speech on the role of faith in America two weeks ago in College Station, Texas. It was pretty well received by people on both sides of the aisle as best as I can tell!
Washington: What kind of a dad was Mitt Romney when you were growing up? Would you classify him as strict or more lenient?
Tagg Romney: Strict, for sure. My mom was a softie, he was the disciplinarian. But we always knew we were more important than anything else to him. People always ask me if he was able to spend much time at home given how busy he must have been. To be honest, it seemed like he was home all the time. It was mandatory that we do chores together every Saturday morning for a few hours, which I hated at the time but am so glad I did now. I'm doing my best to instill that same work ethic into my own children.
Even now, his favorite thing to do is to get his kids and grandkids together and spend time with us. Pretty typical American dad in that respect, I guess
Arlington, Va.: Did you agree with the statement that "the war against islamofacism is the greatest struggle of our time"? You didn't say in your answer to Dunn Loring, Va.
Tagg Romney: I certainly think it is one of our greatest challenges as a nation. I just finished reading "Looming Tower" -- if you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. Regardless of your political leanings, it's a great book to learn why it is that Osama and others want so badly not only to hurt us but to wipe out our way of life completely. Regardless of how you think the war in Iraq has gone, there is a greater struggle that we cannot ignore, or it will get worse.
Boston: Your father once said that he and your family were all "life-long Red Sox fans." Isn't it odd that a guy (and his wife) who grew up in Michigan would have grown up rooting for the Red Sox?
Tagg Romney: He has been pretty clear that he turned into a Red Sox fan when he came here for school. My brothers and I all were raised in Boston and I became a fan when I was three years old. As my wife will attest, I am way too into it for my own good. My dad and I share season tickets and go to as many games as we can. He has learned to appreciate it a lot more, as his sons are all pretty passionate about it. He's not a total crazy die hard, but he is a good fan.
Hartford, Conn.: There are difficulties being a relative of a Presidential candidate, as any relative automatically becomes subject to increased public interest, whether the person wishes this attention or not. As you may know, the brother of Dennis Kucinich passed away recently. Are there words of condolences you would like to provide that may help the Kucinich family and supporters?
Tagg Romney: We certainly pass along our heartfelt sympathies to the Kucinich family. What a horrible tragedy for them to be having to deal with at this time, and in a very public way. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Toronto: If your father were to win the presidency, what role would you see yourself playing, if any, in the administration?
Tagg Romney: Attorney general, for sure. Just kidding of course. I haven't thought much what I will do next, but my preference is to go back to the private world of business.
Vienna, Va.: Mr. Romney, I am a moderate Democrat, but am willing to consider candidates in both parties. I am impressed with what I have read about your father. However, I understand the more conservative voters tend to vote in the Republican primaries. For someone like me, who considers the "moderate" label a good thing, what strategy would a candidate like your father take to get through the primaries successfully but then appeal to a possible crossover voter like myself? Thanks.
Tagg Romney: My dad has broad appeal to the entire base of American voters. He has a naturally conservative philosophy about keeping the size of government small, keeping the economy strong, keeping our military strong, and helping maintain strong family values. I think those are things that appeal to the entire country, not just one party. And he has shown an incredible ability to get things done, even in a state that was completely dominated by the Democrats (85 percent of the legislature). He will find and implement solutions to our toughest challenges, and work with people from both parties to get them done. Whether it's social security, immigration reform, tax policy, the growing economic threat of Asia, etc., he is the guy who can help keep America strong and prosperous.
Fairfax, Va.: If your father wins the presidency, do you feel he will be able to move away from the traditional GOP support of big oil companies so that we can start to truly focus on alternative energy, especially because energy/oil seem to be the key to numerous important issues (i.e. the economy, supporting terrorist groups because of our dependence on oil, etc.)? Is he willing to stand up against these companies who have been making the biggest profits in the history of the United States for the greater good of our country?
Tagg Romney: He's made it very clear that becoming energy independent isn't just a good idea, it's critical to our national security and to the environment as well. He thinks we need to be investing a lot more in finding and developing alternative sources of energy -- wind, solar, nuclear, etc. And he thinks there's a lot we need to do as a nation to find ways to conserve as well.
Tagg Romney: Thanks everybody for spending a few minutes with me. Hope to see you out on the trail. And check out our blog.
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