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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

George Romney\'s Extra, Extra-Value Meals


On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney rarely tells detailed personal stories from his life, an omission that has left some voters grasping for a flesh-and-blood narrative to latch onto.

But during a fund-raiser in Chicago on Tuesday, he shared a vivid memory of his father, George, an auto executive, the former governor Michigan and a towering figure in Mr. Romney's life.

The memory - a tale of food, frugality and fatherhood - appeared to be elicited by a member of the audience, who had worked for McDonald's for 27 years, many of them with the chain's founder, Ray Kroc.

“You know how boys liked to go through their dad's top drawer, just to sort of see what he has in there, maybe find an old coin he might not miss?” Mr. Romney asked the audience.

Mr. Romney recalled doing just that: rummaging through his father's drawer one day when he was in his teens or early 20s.

“I found a little paper card, a little pink card, and it said this entitles George W. Romney to a lifetime of a hamburger, a shake and French fries at McDonald's,” Mr. Romney said. “It was signed by the hand of Ray Kroc.”

The card, Mr. Romney said, was a way of thanking the elder Mr. Romney for leading a training exercise at McDonald's when the chain was “just a handful of restaurants.”

Mr. Romney said that when “I saw this thing and was like, ‘This is a gold mine, Dad!' ”

“So I had it laminated,” Mr. Romney said. “My dad, as you know, would go almost every day to a McDonald's restaurant and get either a hamburger or a fish filet sandwich. And he would present this little card, and of course, the person behind the counter would look and say, ‘Well, what is that?' They'd never seen something like that, but he said it was never turned down.

“They always honored it,” Mr. Romney said.