A former businessman and governor, Mitt Romney's 2012 White House bid is his second attempt to win the Oval Office. During the 2008 election cycle, Romney lost the Republican nomination to Arizona Sen. John McCain. But after that loss, Romney maintained an active national political organization. In June 2011, he formally launched his 2012 campaign.
Romney, who is Mormon, graduated from Brigham Young University in 1971 and then earned dual degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. He helped found Bain Capital, an investment firm that bought and sold companies after turning them around. Romney also helped organize and run the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Romney is wealthy, with assets for him and his wife, Ann, worth an estimated $190 million to $250 million, according to 2011 documents released by his campaign. A separate financial disclosure form filed with the Federal Election Commission around the same time stated that Romney's assets could be worth as much as $264 million.
The Romneys, who married in 1969, have five sons and 16 grandchildren. Politics runs in Romney's family; his father, George, was governor of Michigan.
Bio via CNNPolitics.com
Economy and Jobs
On the campaign trail, Romney frequently touts his mix of experience in the public and private sectors. Romney has also expressed support for the "cut, cap and balance" approach to curbing federal deficit spending that has been championed by tea party activists and some conservative lawmakers in Congress.
Cost of College
When Romney was governor of Massachusetts higher education funding was in decline. He also wants to give Pell Grants the biggest reduction ever in the history of the program. Romney encourages students to pick a college they can afford and not expect any debt forgiveness from the government.
Cost of college information by powerof12.org
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney says if elected, he will work to repeal the Affordable Care law, which he also calls "Obamacare." But, as Massachusetts governor, Romney signed a health care bill into law that penalized Massachusetts citizens for not having health insurance - similar to the federal provision but applied at the state level. At the time, Romney said the purpose of "Romneycare" was to provide, "Every citizen with affordable, comprehensive health insurance…and, finally - beginning to reign in health care inflation."
Romney says that the president's health care plan is an example of Washington overstepping its boundaries because it places a mandate on 100% of Americans. Instead, because his Massachusetts plan was limited to the states, it is better tailored to the people of Massachusetts.
Following the Supreme Court ruling on health care this year, Romney renewed his pledge to overturn Obama's health care plan, calling it the biggest tax increase in U.S. history - a point that Factcheck.org, an independent website dismisses.
Governor Romney, in creating a contrast between himself and President Obama on immigration reform, said that he would do more than Obama did in his first term to create a long-term solution to immigration reform. Obama's solution, Romney said, was "politically motivated", coming, "four and a half months before the general election."
Romney's own solution includes securing the borders - in part, by building a border fence - as well as creating a pathway to citizenship for those who have served in the U.S. military or for children who came here "through no fault of their own."
Facing opinion polls that show more public support for Obama on foreign policy, Romney has constantly criticized what he calls the president's failure to lead on international issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran's nuclear ambitions and Syria.
Romney attacked the president for policies that he said weakened the nation and its international standing, along with pledges to fulfill the conservative view of the United States as a force for good that uses all its power, including military, to exert influence in the world.
In a defining address on foreign policy, Romney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in July 2012 that he wanted to bring about an "American Century," in which the United States, "lead[s] the free world and the free world leads the entire world."
On closer view, though, some details of Romney's foreign policy appear similar to Obama's: advocating sanctions, coalition-building and other diplomatic moves. On Syria, Romney has called for working with allies to arm the rebels, but stopped short of advocating U.S. military involvement, which is similar to the administration's stance so far. The main difference is in visibility. Romney says the United States should have been a leading voice from the start in calling for al Assad's ouster and support for the rebels, while the administration adopted a more neutral stance seeking a diplomatic resolution that has failed to materialize.
In the Middle East, Romney advocates a lock-step approach with Israel instead of the administration's attempt to assume more of a mediator's role. Romney's stance on the Afghanistan war shows the nuance he uses to try to keep conservatives and moderates happy. While criticizing Obama for announcing plans to bring home some troops before the November election, he supports the timetable agreed to by NATO of withdrawing combat forces by the end of 2014.
Mitt Romney recently unveiled his education plan - "A Chance for Every Child" - which emphasized school choice, accountability and ensuring that qualified teachers are in every class. "As President, I will give the parents of every low-income and special needs student the chance to choose where their child goes to school," Romney told a gathering at the Latino Coalition's Annual Economic Summit in Washington, D.C. in May.
Romney was strongly criticized for comments he made that same month at an education roundtable at a charter school in Philadelphia. He said that in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "the schools in the district with the smallest classroom sizes had students performing in the bottom 10%...Just getting smaller classrooms didn't seem to be the key." In a speech in the battleground state of Ohio, Romney also made clear that educational equity would be balanced with fiscal restraint.
A spokesperson for Romney has described him as "firmly pro-life." But, when he ran for Massachusetts governor, Romney maintained he was personally opposed to abortion but would be a pro-choice governor. But Romney changed that stance in 2004 when he had to decide if he should sign a law that allowed stem cell research. Romney says he didn't sign the law because he thought it allowed scientists to create life and then kill it 14 days later. At that point Romney allowed Massachusetts to become a "pro-life state."
Additionally, Romney has said repeatedly that he would support an overturn of Roe v. Wade, and believes that abortion should be decided at the state level. But in June 2011, the former Massachusetts governor refused to sign a tough anti-abortion pledge put out by the Susan B. Anthony List, a conservative organization that opposes abortion. The document has "some potentially unforeseen consequences and he does not feel he could in good conscience sign it," Romney representative Gail Gitcho told CNN.
On the issue of contraception provided by religious organizations, Romney said in a February 2012 CNN debate that the Massachusetts health care law, "Romneycare" did not require churches to provide contraception. Romney said in the same debate that the Obama administration's HHS rule was an attack on religious conscience and religious freedom.
Mitt Romney believes that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. While governor of Massachusetts, Romney presided over a complicated battle to legalize gay marriage in the state. Romney repeatedly said that marriage was between a man and a woman throughout the debate, and added that it was up to the voters to decide, not the courts - which ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in the state.
Romney also supported an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In response to a 2007 court decision that struck down a law banning gay marriage in Iowa, Romney released a statement in favor of a federal amendment to the Constitution banning gay marriage. "This once again highlights the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman," Romney said in a statement.
Romney, however, does support domestic partnership. "My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate but that the others are not," Romney said at a press conference in 2012.