Mitt Romney Was ‘The Loneliest Boy in the 3rd Grade’
New book reveals origins of Mitt’s unpopularity
Detroit, MI | He dressed funny. He was rich. He was snooty. He was disliked by everyone in his third grade class. Even his teacher couldn’t wait for the end of the year so that she’d never have to see him again. His name? Mitt Romney.
The new book entitled Mittens: The Loneliest Boy reveals that Romney started off on the wrong foot on his first day at Detriot’s Walter Reuther Elementary School and things just got worse. Mitt’s third grade teacher Doris Pulaski remembers the day clearly. Still living in Detroit and 87 years old, she possesses a keen memory and sharp turn of phrase.
“Mitt showed up wearing one of his father’s suits and carrying a little briefcase. I don’t know how he got out the door of his house dressed that way. Most of his classmates were the sons and daughters of assembly line workers at GM, Ford, and American Motors. They took one look at him and it was hate at first sight,” says Doris, chuckling at the memory.
“We had to send him home because he couldn’t run or play with his pants dragging around on the ground. He came back the next day wearing a three-piece pinstriped Brooks Brothers suit they bought for him. He looked just like a little undertaker!
“In October, we had class elections and that was when we saw the real Mitt – or Mittens as all the kids called him. He tried to build a campaign organization by bribing his classmates with home-baked cookies. His mother helped him make little banners and signs that he put up all over school. He lost the election – he only got one vote. He voted for himself. I think a boy named Lou Schmidt was the winner.”
Mr. Schmidt went on to have a 25 year career in the Michigan legislature, but after a trial on corruption charges, he is now serving ten to fifteen years at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan..
“Yeah, I remember Mittens all right,” says Schmidt from behind two-inch thick Plexiglas. “What a little (expletive) he was in his (expletive) suit. He was always going on about how when he got to be head of American Motors, he was going to bust the unions. He even tried to convert me to Mormonism. Just for the hell of it, I pretended to be converted. Man, I still remember those chocolate chip cookies he handed out! Wish I had some now. It’s funny how things worked out.”
Even then, Ms. Pulaski saw the makings of the man Romney was to become.
“Later that month, we had another election, this time for Milk Monitor, who would be in charge of bringing the milk and graham crackers from the cafeteria. Mitt campaigned hard for that one. He ditched the suit and showed up wearing dungarees and the cutest little button down, tattersall shirt. He started using all the schoolyard slang and hanging out with the other kids. All the kids could see what an insincere little poser he was, but they elected him Milk Monitor anyway. He ran unopposed.
“I remember his campaign speech to this day. Mittens talked about how his father belonged to the country club and everyone was invited to go swimming with him there in the summer. No one believed a word of it.
“The next day Mitt handed me a sheet of graph paper with his calculations on how the school could save money if we stopped serving whole milk and instead served Army surplus powdered milk, which was like drinking liquid chalk, and these cut-rate crackers that you wouldn’t feed to a dog. He said he couldn’t understand why his father’s taxes should be used to feed a bunch of lower class kids. I’ll tell you right now, I nipped that in the bud!
“I marched him into the hallway and told him I’d appoint a different Milk Monitor if he didn’t get with the program. He told me that teacher’s unions kept incompetent teachers like me in place and when he was in charge, he’d have me fired because he liked the idea of firing people.
Doris’s features brightened when she remembered what she said to him next. “I shoved him up against the lockers and said, ‘You just try it, you little prick!’”
By the end of third grade, it was clear that public school was not for little Mitt. He had alienated the staff with his talk of union busting, he reneged on his promise of taking his classmates swimming at the country club because the club was segregated and wouldn’t allow blacks and Jews, and his relentless attempts to convert his classmates to Mormonism angered the other parents. His parents enrolled Mitt in an exclusive private school the next year.
Despite having no friends, Mitt did have one admirer, however briefly. His classmate Gabriella Carnabucci sat behind him that fateful year and still remembers looking at his beautiful head of hair. Sitting in her beauty parlor today, she remembers Mittens with something approaching affection. “Yeah, he had a stick up his ass, but he was a handsome little boy. I left a Valentine on his desk and later I cornered him on the playground. I told him to kiss me, but he said his religion didn’t allow him to have sex. I told him he had an effed up religion and to give me back my (expletive) Valentine.
Thank you to New York Times columnist Gail Collins for coining the term “Mittens.”