I think this “did he march with Martin Luther King” story is overplayed. It was wrong for Mitt Romney to imply that he had witnessed something he had not. His phrasing did not sound like he was speaking figuratively, if that was in fact his intent. Romney does have a pattern of gilding the lily (although he isn’t the only Republican candidate to have that problem).
That said, there do seem to be conflicting recollections about whether George Romney marched with Martin Luther King Jr., as well as conflicting sources. David Broder and Stephen Hess describe the two men marching together in their book The Republican Establishment: The Present and Future of the GOP, which was published only four years after the Grosse Pointe march had taken place. It doesn’t appear that anyone came forward to dispute their account at the time.
Based on various accounts, the most likely scenario may be this: The two men both participated in major Michigan civil rights marches within a few days of each other, King in Detroit and George Romney in Grosse Pointe, and some people honestly got mixed up. There were other ties between King and Romney, and George Romney’s stalwart civil rights record is indisputable.
In any event, we should be careful before imputing bad motives to anyone who thinks they remember the elder Romney marching with King. Mitt Romney should be careful in describing events he did not actually witness. And we should all be careful not to allow a minor campaign kerfuffle detract from George Romney’s true record.
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