Romney Reportedly Lived in a 'Palace' During Mission Days

Friday, 16 Dec 2011 08:50 AM

By Martin Gould

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Members of Mitt Romney’s own church are casting doubts on his claims that he had to use a bucket as a toilet and lived a life of poverty as a Mormon missionary in Paris.

Instead, the house he lived in during much of his 2-1/2 years in France had stained-glass windows, chandeliers, an extensive art collection, and even a Spanish chef, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports.

“It was a house built by and for rich people,” said Richard Anderson, the son of the mission president at the time of Romney’s stay. “I would describe it as a palace.”

Anderson told the Telegraph that Romney’s campaign had asked him not to discuss their time in the Mission House, a 19th-century neoclassical building in a “chic” area of Paris. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bought it in 1952; it was seized by the Nazis during World War II. The church sold it in the 1970s, and it was the embassy of the United Arab Emirates until recently.

The former Massachusetts governor recounted his time in Paris after facing charges of being out of touch when he offered a $10,000 bet to fellow GOP candidate Rick Perry during a presidential debate Saturday. He said that, of the places he stayed in France, “I don’t recall any of them having a refrigerator. We shopped before every meal.”

He also said the toilet was a hole in the ground with a bucket, and the missionaries bought a hose and “stuck it on the sink” for a shower.

But Anderson said the mansion had not only a fridge but also a washer-dryer, as well as a chef called Pardo and a house boy who prepared lunch and dinner five days a week. “I never saw anything like it in another private home at that time,” he said.

Jean Caussé, a Mormon who met Romney during his time in the southwestern city of Bordeaux, said he would be “astonished” if the former Massachusetts governor’s account of his time in France was accurate.

“I don’t see why he would have lived in conditions like that for two years when it was far from the general case,” Caussé said.

And another American missionary said he remembered one particular amenity of the Paris home. “It had beautiful stained-glass windows, including a woman with bare breasts, which raised some eyebrows,” said Alan Eastman.



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