REUTERS - U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and private equity executive, is pursuing the White House for the second time in Tuesday’s election.
Here are key facts about him.
* Romney, 65, espouses traditional Republican positions to cut taxes, reduce federal regulations, shrink government spending and bolster the U.S. military. He vows to create 12 million new jobs in his first term with a plan focused on domestic energy development, expanded free trade, improving education, reducing the deficit and championing small business.
* He lost the 2008 Republican presidential nomination to Senator John McCain but entered this year’s race with a large campaign war chest and the blessing of many in the party establishment. Conservative unease over his reputation as a moderate led to a stiff challenge in the Republican primaries.
* His net worth has been estimated at between $190 million and $250 million, making him one of the wealthiest people to ever run for the presidency. Romney has been criticized for holding money overseas and for not disclosing as many tax releases as his opponents have demanded.
* Romney proposes to lower individual income taxes across the board to 20 percent while closing some loopholes, which he says would stimulate economic growth without widening the federal deficit. He supports restructuring the Social Security retirement program and the Medicare government health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.
* He is a fifth-generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormon church. He was a Mormon missionary in France for more than two years after leaving high school and later became bishop and stake president in Boston, roles akin to being a lay pastor. His faith, however, is viewed with suspicion by some conservative evangelical Christians.
* Born into a well-off family and raised near Detroit, Romney was exposed to politics early. His father, George, was chairman of American Motors Corporation and governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969. George Romney lost a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 and served in President Richard Nixon’s Cabinet.
* In 1994, the younger Romney ran for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts as a moderate Republican, but was handily defeated by incumbent Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy. Eight years later, Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts, where he instituted a statewide healthcare reform that became a model for Obama’s 2010 national healthcare overhaul.
* In 1999, Romney took over as head of the committee organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, which had been plagued by cost overruns and scandal, and produced a successful event that helped establish his national reputation as a premier problem-solver.
* As his party moved to the right, Romney changed his positions on sensitive social issues, including abortion and gay rights. That fueled criticism that he lacked core beliefs and was motivated only by ambition. Romney referred to himself as “severely conservative” during the 2012 Republican primaries but has projected a more moderate image during the general election campaign.
* Romney met his wife, Ann, at a high school dance and they married in 1969, while they were still in college. They have five sons and 18 grandchildren. Romney has an English degree from Utah’s Brigham Young University, which is owned and run by the Mormon church, and a joint law degree and MBA from Harvard University. He speaks French.
* Romney joined the management consultancy Bain & Company in 1977 and climbed the ranks. In 1984, he co-founded the highly profitable private equity arm Bain Capital, which invested in start-ups and fledgling companies including Staples, Sports Authority and Domino’s Pizza. Critics have highlighted the number of jobs Bain cut while Romney was at its helm.
* Romney has battled a reputation for being uncomfortable and stiff when campaigning and somewhat aloof when relating to ordinary Americans. The New York Times once described his campaign persona as “All-Business Man, the world’s most boring superhero.”
* He has little foreign policy experience. He stumbled in August during a gaffe-filled trip to Britain, Israel and Poland that was meant to burnish his credentials on the world stage. He has labeled Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical foe” and said that preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability should be Washington’s highest national security priority. (Compiled by Americas Desk; Editing by Will Dunham)