Fans of truly explosive political fireworks may have been disappointed when the seemingly unflappable Mitt Romney all but clinched the Republican nod to face the famously no-drama President Obama. But flashes of Romney's well-guarded temper have made cameo appearances on the campaign trail, and BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski just unearthed a gem from Romney's past: A three-decade-old arrest for clashing with a law officer. Here, a look at that tale and four classic "Mitt-frontations" (as his family calls them):
1. Facing a "disorderly conduct" arrest
This story first surfaced in Romney's doomed 1994 bid to unseat Sen. Ted Kennedy, Kaczynski says: In 1981, Romney was putting the family boat into Lake Cochituate, an hour outside of Boston, when a park officer told him he couldn't because the license looked painted over. If he launched, he'd face a $50 fine. "I was willing to pay the fine," Romney told The Boston Globe. But the officer returned as Romney put the boat in and, visibly angry at being ignored, handcuffed Mitt, who was "dripping wet in a bathing suit," and booked him for disorderly conduct. Romney contested the arrest in court, threatened to sue, and got the arrest dismissed and sealed. "He did not have the right to arrest me because I was not a disorderly person," Romney told The Globe. Right, I guess "laws are [just] for little people and suckers, aren't they?" says Kaili Joy Gray at Daily Kos.
2. Tangling with a traffic cop at the Olympics
During the 2002 Winter Olympics, says Alec MacGillis at The New Republic, Romney, who was the Games' chief organizer, pushed local sheriff's deputies out of the way to personally manage a traffic snarl outside the downhill ski area. He also lit into an 18-year-old security volunteer, Shaun Knopp, who told reporters that Romney rudely asked "who the fuck" he was and "what the fuck" an amateur like him was doing at the Olympics. Romney denied dropping f-bombs, saying the worst he broke out was "H-E-double hockey sticks." I find the idea of Romney directing traffic and dropping f-bombs "immensely humanizing," says Tommy Christopher at Mediaite. "I like that guy" — why isn't he running?
3. Putting Rick Perry in a "Vulcan neck pinch"
In a GOP debate last October, Romney had an "odd and unexpected moment" with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, says The New Republic's MacGillis. Perry interrupted Mitt, and Romney appealed to the moderator. But "when no help arrived, he turned on Perry, his voice rising to a shout and his eyes flashing with anger." He even condescendingly put his hand on Perry's shoulder, shocking observers used to Mitt's "robotic self-control." Romney's "attempted Vulcan neck pinch on Rick Perry" was actually "a very strong bit of power politics," says Mediaite's Christopher, except for the part where "he tried to complain to the ref."
4. Sparring with party rockers LMFAO
In February 2010, Romney was on a flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles when he had his "most unusual altercation," says MacGillis. He and wife Ann were seated behind Sky Blu (Skyler Gordy) of the party-rock duo LMFAO. Gordy leaned back before takeoff, Romney told him to return his seat to an upright position, and Gordy wound up being escorted off the plane. As Romney tells it, after he politely asked Gordy to sit up, then "tapped him on the shoulder," Gordy "gave me a good swat and he broke my hair." In Gordy's version, told on YouTube, Romney yelled, "Sir, sir put your seat up!" then reached up and "put a condor grip on me. ... It was pretty hostile."
5. Yelling at a radio host over his gay marriage record
In March 2007, when he was starting his first bid for the GOP nomination, Romney met with about a dozen conservatives in Chicago. Things were cordial until talk-radio host Sandy Rios asked him about printing gender-neutral marriage certificates when he was governor of Massachusetts, Rios told MassResistance. "At that point Romney lost his temper" and accused me of lying, Rios said. "He asked if I was an attorney and I said, 'No, sir, I am not.' 'I am a graduate of Harvard Law School,' he stated." It wasn't the only time Romney got snippy with a radio host in 2007. Watch Romney get mad on video, via Politico:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
Subscribe to the Week