Mitt Romney

If Willard Mitt Romney were to walk into a Hollywood casting session for the role of US president he'd ace the audition. Photogenic with a commanding presence and charismatic wife, the former high flying captain of industry is a living, breathing template for a politician.

A failure early in his political career – he was unable to unseat Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994 – had a profound impact. 

"I never want to run for something again unless I can win," Mitt, a founding partner of Bain Capital, one of America's largest private equity firms, would tell his brother afterwards.

The son of George Romney, the one-time governor of Michigan state, he was born, on March 12, 1947, into a devoutly Mormon family, who were used to winning.

For three years during the late Sixties he served as a missionary for the church in France. 

One night, Mitt was at the wheel of a tiny citroen on a country road when a mercedes rounded the curve and collided with his car, leaving one of his passengers dead and him seriously injured.

Back home in the States, his high school sweetheart Ann Davies spent an anxious night waiting to hear if he had survived.

On his return the couple married while still both students at Brigham Young University.

Decades after their wedding in 1969, Ann would recall: "We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish.

"Our dining room table was a fold down ironing board in the kitchen."

Mitt followed this with degrees from Havard in law and business.

While Ann stayed at home, raising their five sons Taggart, Matthew, Joshua, Benjamin and Craig, her ambitious young husband was scaling the ranks of the consulting industry.

Her role was crucial not just as a homemaker, but also served to humanise a man dogged by criticism that he can appear stiff compared to peers like Bill Clinton.

Of their marriage, Ann, a breast cancer survivor, who also suffers from MS, has said: "I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a storybook marriage….

"Well, let me tell you something. In the storybooks I read, there never were long, long rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once.

"And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or breast cancer.

"A storybook marriage? Nope, not at all. What Mitt and I have is a real marriage."

Her support enabled him to build up an estimated fortune of $190–250 million, which would help finance his political career with the Republican party.

The millionaire mogul went on to become Massachusetts governor via a successful stint running the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games of 2002.

But his sights were set even higher – towards the White House.

Losing his party's nomination to John McCain in 2008, sat uneasily with someone uncomfortable with the word 'failure'.

And four years later he determined to have another attempt. This time he sailed through the Republican selection process to take on Barack Obama with loyal Ann by his side every step of the way.
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