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Trump, Like Romney, a Riches to Riches Story

October 29, 2015

During his failed 2012 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Mitt Romney offered this sage advice to college students worried about finding jobs after graduation. Citing the experience of a friend who secured a $20,000 loan from his parents, Romney counseled, "Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business."
As it turns out, it wasn't just the Romneys who practiced what they preached. The current 2016 GOP frontrunner Donald Trump did as well. As Trump explained to a town hall audience on Monday:

"My whole life really has been a 'no' and I fought through it. It has not been easy for me, it has not been easy for me. And you know I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars."

Now, during his days at Harvard Business School, the young Mitt Romney did not receive a paternal cash injection of the size that Wharton's Donald Trump pocketed. But as Mrs. Romney explained in 1994, George Romney's largesse made it possible for her to avoid the dignity of work during Mitt's penny-pinching days:

"Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time. The stock came from Mitt's father. When he took over American Motors, the stock was worth nothing. But he invested Mitt's birthday money year to year -- it wasn't much, a few thousand, but he put it into American Motors because he believed in himself. Five years later, stock that had been $6 a share was $96 and Mitt cashed it so we could live and pay for education."

Years later, private equity titan Mitt Romney would come through in a bigger way for his son, Tagg. In 2008, Tagg Romney was able to co-founded Solamere Capital, thanks in large part to a $10 million investment from his parents' seeing-eye trust. And as Lee Fang reported in The Nation in October 2012:

Solamere, a firm predicated on its founders' relationship with Romney, presents a channel for powerful investors to influence the White House if he wins. Private equity executives looking to lobby a Romney administration may very well have a leg up if they are already doing business with the firm that the president created for his son.

For his part, Tagg insists he made it on his own. "No one we went to as an investor said, 'Oh, your dad is Mitt Romney, I'm going to give you $10 million. Our relationships with people got us in the door, but that did not get us investors." Presumably, Tagg's filial duty didn't have anything to do with Mitt joining the company in 2013 or the completion of its $525 million fund just this week. Apparently, for him as for Donald Trump, he didn't have it easy.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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