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As A Politician, Romney's Long Had Trouble Talking Cars

Mitt Romney has had issues in this campaign with cars.

You may remember his " two Cadillacs" comment in February, immediately characterized as a gaffe for a candidate who has often seemed to struggle with how to address his wealth on the trail.

"I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles," said Romney in Michigan. "I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann [his wife] drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually."

She has one in California and one in Massachusetts.

Then last week came the revelation that Romney's LaJolla, Calif., home remodeling plans include a car elevator.

But before all of this, way before, Romney had a 1984 BMW and some apparent uncertainty about his pickup truck.

At a 2004 press conference, where then-Massachusetts Gov. Romney unveiled the state's Climate Protection Plan, he raved about the wonders of fuel-efficient vehicles and hybrid technology. Then in the question and answer session, he was asked what his family drives.

"Let's see. We have more than one car. And I'm trying to think," Romney said. "My wife drives a Jeep. Um and uh, let's see. And I have an old car. I have a 1984 six cylinder BMW I bought used that I like but haven't driven very much lately. And that's very fuel efficient but not driven very often. Um. And I have a, let's see. I think I have a, I do have a Chevy pickup truck, diesel pickup truck for pulling a horse trailer."

At times he seems to be struggling to recall what kinds of cars he has or which ones to mention. He then fields another question, presumably whether he is planning to buy a hybrid for himself.

"I'm not planning on buying any vehicles in the near future. As long as I can keep getting re-elected the state drives me around."

Romney didn't end up running for re-election, instead opting for a presidential bid. And if Romney were to win the presidency this November, he wouldn't have to worry about driving himself around ever again, as even former presidents get Secret Service protection and drivers.

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Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.