FRONTLINE | "The Choice 2012" (full episode, English) | PBS

Uploaded by PBS on 09.10.2012


>> Help continue quality PBS programs like Frontline.
Support PBS and local PBS stations
by making a gift today.
Donate now.
>> In a world full of questions, we answer to no one but you.
Visit for thought-provoking journalism
and more than 100 full-length films.
>> The following is a PBS
Election 2012 special event.
>> Tonight on Frontline, the
lives of the men who would be
>> Barack Obama's a fascinating
mixture of boldness and caution.
>> When Mitt Romney gets focused
and locked in, watch out.
>> Stories of family...
>> Stanley Ann Dunham was really
a thoroughly unconventional
>> He had to fend for himself.
Every step, he was alone.
>> The dad stuff just can't be
>> He had a lot of power to him.
He was our hero.
>> Identity...
>> He told his fifth-grade class
that his father was
an Indonesian king.
>> He was a white-black kid.
>> His extended family is one of
the leading Mormon families.
>> He can't talk about it
because it involves polygamy.
>> Controversy...
>> He's the first Nobel Peace
Prize winner with a kill list.
>> Mitt Romney doesn't have an
ideological bone in his body,
as far as I can tell.
>> And destiny.
>> What unites both of these
characters is this sense that
there was a place that they were
going, a destiny that they had.
>> Tonight on Frontline,
"The Choice 2012."
>> Frontline is made possible
by contributions to your PBS
station from viewers like you.
Thank you.
And by the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting.
Major funding is provided by
the John D. and Catherine T.
MacArthur Foundation,
committed to building a more
just, verdant and peaceful
Additional funding is provided
by the Park Foundation,
dedicated to heightening public
awareness of critical issues.
And by the Frontline
Journalism Fund.
>> In Massachusetts, in a
political fight that Ted Kennedy
probably never imagined...
>> Kennedy's seventh campaign
has become a desperate struggle
for survival...
>> This year he in his toughest
race ever against a political
>> It's youth versus age, the
Senate's leading liberal against
a wildly successful venture
>> We get a call from the Boston
And they say, "It's a mad scene
down here."
>> (chanting): We want Ted!
>> NARRATOR: It was the night of
their first debate.
>> "We're going to have to get
you an escort to get into the
They had eight or ten
motorcycle police officers there
to guide us through the mobs of
people at the site.
>> NARRATOR: It was 47-year-old
Mitt Romney's first campaign.
>> And Mitt just has this big
smile on his face, and he looks
at me and goes, "Boy, however
this turns out, this really
makes it worth it."
>> NARRATOR: The race had been
Romney needed a great
>> I don't think he had any idea
what it was going to be like,
because he had never done
debates under that pressure.
>> NARRATOR: He'd gotten into
the race because Kennedy looked
weak, beatable.
>> At the time Ted Kennedy
seemed vulnerable.
It was a weak period for
He looked bad, he sounded bad,
and in that way he was
>> NARRATOR: He was dramatically
There had been trouble with
alcohol and women.
He'd mortgaged his house to stay
in the race.
>> Romney was everything Ted
Kennedy was not.
You know, he had this clean
family life.
He was a really good speaker.
He was really athletic and he
had a good kind of campaign
>> People knew that he had gone
to Harvard Business School, had
made a lot of money, been a
registered independent up until
not too long before he ran.
>> He ran as a
He opposed Newt Gingrich's
"Contract with America."
He supported abortion rights.
He said he was to the left
of Ted Kennedy on gay rights.
>> The expectation was that
Romney would do very well.
>> Mitt Romney, the Republican
>> I ran into someone who was
not so friendly to us who said,
"Did you come to see your guy
I paced in the back of
Faneuil Hall during the entire
>> Good evening and welcome.
>> NARRATOR: Romney directly
confronted Edward Kennedy.
>> Senator Kennedy, my
impression has been that you
have followed a campaign, as
soon as the primary was over, of
trying to divert the voters'
attention from the issues at
hand, and instead making
personal attacks on me which are
unfounded, unfair and sleazy.
>> NARRATOR: Kennedy had
unleashed negative TV ads.
>> Romney.
It's not just what he did to his
workers and business that's the
It's what he might do to us in
the Senate.
>> Kennedy was a master
politician and what he did was
he used a series of filmed ads
to its maximal effect.
>> Mitt Romney says he helped
create 10,000 jobs.
The former workers at SCM in
Marion, Indiana, say something
>> I'd like to say to the people
of Massachusetts, if you think
it can't happen to you, think
again, because we thought it
wouldn't happen here either.
>> I want to know why you spent
millions of dollars showing
advertisements of strikers in a
company I had nothing to do
>> NARRATOR: But Kennedy, the
veteran, ignored Romney's
>> Mr. Romney, let's put the ads
aside and talk about health
Let's talk about education.
Let's talk about training.
Let's talk about new jobs.
Let's talk about infrastructure.
Let's talk about our different
vision for Massachusetts.
That's what the people of
Massachusetts want to
talk about.
And that's what I think they
ought to hear about.
>> I think about 10 or 15
minutes in, Romney began to
realize this was not the easy
exercise he thought it was going
to be.
>> NARRATOR: Then Romney
The issue was health care.
>> I have a plan.
I have a position paper on
health care.
I'm happy to show it to you,
Senator, any time you'd like.
>> Mr. Romney, it isn't a
question of showing me your
It's a question of showing all
of the people in here that are
watching this program the paper.
They ought to have an
opportunity to know.
What is the cost of your
>> I don't have a cost of my
>> You don't have a cost?
>> No, I'm sorry, I don't
>> What would be the impact
of that on the budget?
>> Well, the impact, I do not
know the specific number.
>> So you don't have a cost.
>> The impact of that on the
budget, Senator Kennedy.
And I think it's a wonderful
idea to take it through, piece
by piece, and...
>> That's what you do as a
That's exactly what you have to
do as a legislator.
(applause and cheering)
>> We all sort of understood
what had happened that night.
The debate was watched by over
three million people, as many
people as watched a Super Bowl
in Massachusetts.
Romney had these expectations
that he was going to win up to
And suddenly Kennedy is up to
here, Romney's here.
The race is over.
>> After you lose to Ted
Kennedy, everything else comes
up short.
You have learned from that, you
have been through the storm.
You've served time on the
front lines.
History is a great teacher.
He may have lost but he acquired
some knowledge from that defeat.
>> Mitt doesn't like to lose so
it was very painful for him.
It was, I believe, probably the
first public failure he had ever
experienced, and I think at a
deep level that was a painful
experience for him.
(choir singing gospel music)
>> NARRATOR: The year is 2000.
The place is Chicago's South
For nearly a decade, Barack
Obama had been working to make
this neighborhood his home.
For the last three years, he'd
been a state senator, but he was
growing impatient.
He had his eye on a
Congressional seat.
>> He wants to do something
He's got a pretty big ego,
He believes in himself, believes
he's bigger than the Illinois
>> You know, he convinces
himself it's a really good idea
to take on one of the lions of
the black Chicago Democratic
>> NARRATOR: It was the
legendary incumbent congressman
and former Black Panther Bobby
>> Bobby Rush has real strong
roots in the community.
Bobby Rush was, you know, a
Then he matured as a
congressman into a guy that took
that toughness and broadly
applied that.
So Bobby Rush had very real
strength in the community.
>> NARRATOR: Even after having
lived here for years, Obama was
vulnerable to a charge Bobby
Rush would surely make: he
didn't really know these
streets, and he's not really an
>> Bobby Rush called him an
educated fool, again trying to
sort of cast Obama as this
overeducated half-white guy from
Hawaii with this multicultural
He was not "one of us."
>> You can have more degrees
than a thermometer, but
if you ain't got some power, you
ain't got some seniority, if you
ain't got what it takes to be a
>> That's always been a subtext
of the opposition to him from
other black politicians.
How dedicated is he to the black
>> Despite all our differences,
we can live together as one
>> There's a long article about
the race in the Chicago Reader,
the local alternative paper in
Chicago, where one of Obama's
opponents, he says, "Obama is
viewed as the white man in
blackface in our community."
>> It got bad.
It was real bad.
A number of black nationalists
in the African-American
community, you know, made all
sorts of allegations about
Barack being a tool of, you
know, Hyde Park and the
University of Chicago, which are
both code words for both whites
and Jews.
>> NARRATOR: Bobby Rush's
strategy worked.
On Election Day, the voters
embraced the incumbent.
Obama knew what was going to
>> In the end, voters decided to
stick with Bobby Rush by a huge,
huge, huge margin.
So it was a very bruising loss
for him.
>> NARRATOR: Obama lost by 30
>> It was the first time in his
life where people didn't just
really accept him immediately,
where things didn't really go
perfectly for him.
>> NARRATOR: The loss seemed
like it might be the end of
Obama's political career.
>> People who saw him afterward
say he was as low as they've
ever seen him.
One person who was close to him
said he got the sense that
Senator Obama really wondered if
he would be able to continue in
>> NARRATOR: And it raised real
problems with his wife Michelle.
>> The Bobby Rush race was the
nadir of the Obama marriage.
Her feeling was, "Why are you
doing this?"
This is the moment when they
want two totally different
You know, Barack Obama wants
political success, and his wife
wants a normal life.
I asked the president and first
lady how long it had taken them
to recover from that period, and
they said two to three years.
So this is a serious toll on
their relationship.
>> NARRATOR: For Mitt Romney,
growing up in this affluent
suburban Detroit neighborhood
was just about perfect.
>> Mitt Romney did have this
rather elite upbringing.
A very wealthy community.
He is, you know, very well taken
care of.
>> NARRATOR: Mitt was the
youngest of four children.
>> These are people who just
adored their children.
And you could see that Mitt and
his dad had a very special bond.
>> The dad stuff just can't be
George Romney comes up again and
again and again as a motif in
Mitt Romney's life.
>> NARRATOR: At home, George
Romney ruled the roost.
His children lived in his
reflected glory.
>> When he walked in the room,
you knew he was there.
He had a lot of, a lot of power
to him, and it was, he was a lot
of fun.
I mean, he was our hero.
>> NARRATOR: George had made a
fortune in the auto industry the
old-fashioned way: he earned it.
>> George Romney was, in many
ways, a figure from another
>> What's more fitting than that
>> NARRATOR: At a time when the
American car was king...
>> ...should hold the world's
largest automobile show?
>> NARRATOR: George Romney
was president of the fourth
largest automobile manufacturer
in the nation.
>> His great triumph was to come
up with an idea that all of the
big Detroit companies had
missed, which was that a small
car could sell.
>> NARRATOR: They called the car
the Rambler, and to young Mitt,
it was swell.
>> What's the best car on the
>> Rambler!
>> They built a little
go-kart together and they did
things together.
Just doing fun things and having
a great time.
>> NARRATOR: Just down the
street was Mitt's school.
>> Cranbrook, a school where the
young are nurtured on beauty.
>> NARRATOR: It was one of
Michigan's most exclusive
private schools.
>> You had to wear a coat and
tie, except on Fridays.
We were very fortunate to have a
beautiful surroundings, but the
real focus was academic.
>> NARRATOR: Mitt wasn't much
for the academics.
The school yearbook shows where
he put his energy.
>> Romney at Cranbrook was a
He wasn't a good athlete, but he
was the manager of the hockey
team, he was on the cross-
country team, he was a
He was very active in everything
he could be.
He was part of the place very
>> NARRATOR: During that time,
Mitt's dad decided to leave
business and head into politics.
Michigan was a powerful
democratic stronghold, but
George Romney had a maverick
He ran as a liberal-to-moderate
And Mitt watched as he won.
>> Michigan can light the
authentic path to a fuller and
higher expression of freedom in
Thank you very much.
(crowd cheers)
>> It's a little bit striking
how involved he is in George's
political activities from a
fairly young age.
>> NARRATOR: His dad thought
civil rights were worth fighting
As a teenager, Mitt was less
interested in the issues than
being with his dad.
>> The word from his family is
that he was not necessarily
interested in politics as
But there was always something
about his father and his
father's power and his father's
profession that kept him around
and kept him close in a way that
it didn't do that for other
members of his family.
(newsreel music plays)
>> The eyes of the nation are on
San Francisco as the Republican
Party convenes to nominate its
choice for president.
>> NARRATOR: And in 1964, Mitt
traveled with his dad to watch
him take on conservative
Republican senator Barry
>> The Republican Party should
unequivocally repudiate
extremists of the right and the
left, and reject their efforts
to infiltrate or attach
themselves to our party or its
>> Mitt is absorbing all of
He sees his father basically
taking a stand and admires his
father greatly for this.
>> NARRATOR: But it was Barry
Goldwater's convention.
>> I would remind you that
extremism in the defense of
liberty is no vice.
(crowd cheers)
>> NARRATOR: And when Goldwater
received the nomination, Mitt
saw his father angrily storm
>> I think that my father was
always willing to live according
to his principles.
He didn't shy away from any
He was a very strong person in
doing that.
And we learned that you have to
live up to what you believe in.
>> NARRATOR: One thing George
Romney believed in was the
Vietnam War.
And one year later, when Mitt
showed up at Stanford
University, he would adopt his
father's position.
>> So, he is very much on his
father's side for the Vietnam
War at that time.
He is really out of his element
where the whole campus is being
roiled by this anti-war and
anti-establishment protest.
>> NARRATOR: Mitt took on the
>> Mitt Romney is a fairly
rule-bound person.
He actually protested the
He held up a big sign that said,
"Go back to your studies."
>> And we see the Mitt Romney
who cares about rules and
institutions and following
And that causes him to take a
very dim view, I think, of the
protest movement.
(Hawaiian music plays)
>> Welcome to Paradise.
>> NARRATOR: Barack Obama began
his life on an island.
>> Our sun-filled, fun-filled,
50th state.
>> NARRATOR: His birth
certificate reveals his history:
born in Hawaii, the son of an
African man and a white 18-year-
old from Kansas.
>> Stanley Ann Dunham was really
a thoroughly unconventional
mother in almost every way.
She fell in love with and
conceived a child with an
African man at a time when
nearly two dozen states had laws
against interracial marriage.
>> NARRATOR: He would not see
his son for ten years.
>> Barry Obama had a pretty
unsettling childhood.
I mean, he didn't know his
His mother was very loving and
protective, but she was also
finding herself.
Basically, he and she grew up
>> She then became involved with
an Indonesian and married him
and had a child with him.
So she had two biracial children
from different cultures who she
raised largely by herself.
>> NARRATOR: They lived in
He was now called Barry Soetoro.
His stepfather Lolo was
>> He's drinking quite a lot.
There's evidence of at least one
act of domestic violence against
>> NARRATOR: Stanley Ann taught
While she worked, Barry had to
learn how to cope.
>> Imagine what it would be like
at age six to be thrown into the
chaotic, swirling environment of
a dense neighborhood in Jakarta,
Indonesia, not knowing the
language, not knowing anything,
looking a little different.
He had to fend for himself.
Every step along the way, there
was some aspect, deep aspect of
him where he was alone.
>> NARRATOR: Then, when he was
ten, his mother sent him to
Hawaii to live with his
>> I think it's natural to
assume that your father be
absent, then form a relationship
with your stepfather, and then
be separated from him and be
separated from your mother and
go live with your grandparents
who at that point you don't
really know that well...
it must have been profoundly
>> His early life is a constant
stream of people leaving, of him
being left.
His mother, his father, his
grandparents constantly moving.
His whole life is really a, sort
of a classic search for home.
>> NARRATOR: They lived in a
small two-bedroom high-rise
apartment in Honolulu.
>> His grandfather was a heavy
What surprised me as I was
researching my book was actually
the president himself telling me
that his grandmother was an
alcoholic, too.
>> NARRATOR: But Barry had
gotten lucky.
Hawaii's most prestigious school
needed students with diverse
>> I can picture him as this
slightly, not... chubby is too
strong, but rounded, short
little guy, Barry Obama.
And he told us that his father
was an Indonesian king and that
he was a prince.
And after he finished school he
was going to go back and he
would be a ruler in Indonesia.
And I absolutely believed him.
I understand that he told his
fifth-grade class that he was
Kenyan royalty.
But I never heard that story
until, you know, years later.
>> NARRATOR: At Punahou, they
prided themselves on
multicultural attitudes, and
Barry joined in.
But it wasn't always easy.
>> The junior tennis tournaments
in Hawaii, when the draw was
posted, everyone would go over
to see, okay, who do I play in
the first round?
Where am I in the draw?
And we were all looking for our
names on the draw, and Barry
And the tennis pro came over and
he said to Barry, "Don't touch
that, you'll get it dirty."
And there was something
in his tone that horrified me,
because it wasn't...
It was clear that he didn't
mean, "Oh, your hands are
grubby," which he would have
ragged at any of us for that.
It was clear that he meant,
"You're black."
It stopped me in my tracks.
And it made me more aware of a
certain ugliness, I guess, that
I hadn't really felt or lived
with before.
>> NARRATOR: Being half black
was adding to the complications
of young Barry's life.
>> Here he was half black, half
white, living with white
Many of his friends assumed that
they were his parents who had
adopted him, because they're
white, he's black.
A lot of friends never knew his
>> Honestly, I don't have any
recollection of Barry's
biological mother.
It just seemed to be like a
missing person, for me, and I
never asked about it.
>> NARRATOR: His mother had been
absent for much of his
He'd met his father only once,
for a few weeks, when he was
>> Barack has had to deal
with dueling identities all of
his life, nurtured by a white
family and identifying with
that family, but at the same
time, when he's out, when
he goes out, he's identified as
something else.
And he has had to make sense of
that duality his entire life.
>> NARRATOR: Alone and unsure of
how to fit in, Barry created a
family of his own, a group of
kids from school.
They called themselves "The
Choom Gang."
Tom Topolinski was one of them.
>> Choom was the slang for
"smoke marijuana."
Somehow it reached our group and
became an identifier as who we
We were the Choom Gang.
>> Bill Clinton, you know,
famously said he didn't inhale.
Obama, on the other hand, not
only inhaled but was sort of the
ringleader of the idea of total
absorption, what they call TA,
where you had to make sure
that everything got inhaled.
Take roof hits while you're in
the car.
>> I think it was important to
Barry because perhaps it did
fill a void that wasn't apparent
at the time.
I don't think any of us thought
of it that way, but now in
retrospect, we look back and
went, hey, we really were a
This was really, really
>> NARRATOR: Obama's senior
yearbook tells the story.
>> In his yearbook he thanks
"Gramps and Toot," who are Stan
and Madeline, his grandparents,
and the Choom Gang, and Ray for
the good times.
Who was their drug dealer.
Who was kind of a hippie who
could get them the good stuff.
And he doesn't thank his mother.
>> NARRATOR: By the time he
graduated from Punahou, Obama
had decided to leave Hawaii.
>> One of the central themes
that I find from his life is his
intense desire to avoid being
His mother had that.
She didn't want to be trapped in
a life that she didn't want in
She left for Indonesia.
And he had it threefold.
And throughout his life he was
constantly trying to figure out
the traps.
>> NARRATOR: In 1966, the Mormon
Church called Mitt Romney at the
end of his freshman year at
It was time to become a Mormon
>> You are sort of sent out on
your own in very difficult
circumstances to sort of prove
your stuff.
Can you make it?
>> NARRATOR: Mitt, like most
Mormon young men, had to leave
home for a rigorous rite of
>> And that means standing up
for your faith under very
adverse circumstances.
It means working hard when you
have many reasons to be
discouraged, when people are not
paying attention to you.
>> NARRATOR: For Mitt Romney,
service to the Mormon Church had
a special meaning.
The Romney family traced their
roots back to the church's
earliest days.
>> Not only were his parents
very prominent, his family, back
to the days of Brigham Young,
was very prominent.
His extended family is one of
the leading Mormon families.
>> NARRATOR: Mitt's great-
grandfather Miles was an early
church leader who had
established a colony in Mexico.
>> The Romneys had left the
United States and went to Mexico
to avoid persecution, but it's
also to pursue polygamy.
>> NARRATOR: Miles Romney had
five wives and 30 children.
>> They built a ranch and he's
back in Stone Age conditions
with no money.
Romney's father is now on
the scene.
That gets destroyed by
They move back to California,
poverty again.
They build it back up.
They move back to Salt Lake
They build it back up.
Romney's whole history of a
family is that they knocked us
down, we built it back up.
We didn't make a fortune; we
made a bunch of fortunes.
And they resented us for our
success, but we kept coming
That's Romney's history.
>> With someone with a name with
Romney you heard about the
sufferings of your ancestors and
their sacrifices and all they've
done that you feel like, well,
it's my turn now; I've got to
pick up the baton and run with
>> NARRATOR: But Mitt and his
family rarely tell the story to
>> It's an incredible history.
He can't talk about it because
it involves polygamy.
And so if the core of your
personality is something you
can't talk about because it's
politically unacceptable, well,
you're not going to be open with
the people all around you.
>> NARRATOR: Now the church was
sending Mitt away to spend two
and half years on a mission in
>> As Mitt Romney has said,
imagine going to Bordeaux and
saying to people, "I've got a
great new religion for you and,
by the way, give up your wine."
>> NARRATOR: The task: to put on
a suit and tie, and climb on
your bicycle.
>> The tried and true and
well-worn method was knocking on
And so we knocked on thousands
and thousands and thousands of
>> The Mormon mission does teach
you to deal with rejection.
Most people are not thrilled to
see a pair of Mormon
missionaries on their door.
>> NARRATOR: Rejection was at
the heart of the experience.
>> And it means cultivating your
own inner spiritual life.
Where else are you going to get
the resources and the strength
to carry on this difficult work
of knocking on people's doors
and pleading with them to listen
to you unless you feel like God
is with you?
>> NARRATOR: And during that
time, Mitt was worried about the
news from home.
His father was running for
>> We would get a hold of the
Herald Tribune and kind
of keep up on what was
>> NARRATOR: The news was not
George's campaign was in
He had changed his position on
the Vietnam War.
>> Well, you know when I came
back from Vietnam, I just had
the greatest brainwashing that
anybody can get.
>> By the generals?
>> When you go over to
Vietnam... well not only by the
generals, but also by the
diplomatic corps over there.
I no longer believe that it was
necessary for us to get involved
in South Vietnam...
>> NARRATOR: Romney's opponent
was Richard Nixon.
The press jumped on the word
The story caught fire.
>> But this blew up.
It conjured images from The
Manchurian Candidate, and he
gets criticized from all angles.
And the gap between him and
Nixon widens pretty
>> NARRATOR: Back in France,
Mitt watched as his father's
presidential campaign cratered.
>> It was a disappointment when
his dad had a sudden drop-off.
He would say, "Yeah, it's too
My dad's such a great guy.
Why would he get punished for
saying what was true?"
>> Mitt couldn't help but be
informed by that, and I think he
tries to be more careful with
his words.
And Mitt has clearly learned
from what damaged his father's
successful run.
>> NARRATOR: Then a brush with
>> Mitt Romney is driving.
They are coming around a curve
in this small, remote town.
There are six people in the car.
>> He went around the bend and
he saw that there was, at a
high rate of speed, another
person coming right towards him.
>> And the car was estimated to
be going, I think, some 70 miles
an hour.
One of the policemen who had
shown up as the first responder,
if you will, had actually
written in his passport, "Il est
mort," which means "He is
Mitt woke up in a ward, and he
didn't know where he was.
And then for a period of time,
he didn't have any feeling in
one side of his face.
>> NARRATOR: He had survived,
but the wife of the mission
president, sitting right next to
him, was killed.
>> You have to understand the
mission president was like the
surrogate father there.
His wife, the surrogate mother,
the mission mother.
And she was, to many of us,
a mother there.
And so it was an awful loss for
us that she was killed.
>> NARRATOR: In the wake of the
tragedy, Mitt showed surprising
>> I think part of that is
because of our faith.
A deep conviction that this
isn't the end of all life; it's
just the end of mortal life.
That there's purpose beyond this
And that Sister Anderson now had
gone on, and would be involved
in great work going on on the
other side of the veil.
That our job now was to make
a success of what she had been
there for and what she had
nurtured us for.
>> NARRATOR: The mission in
Paris was leaderless.
Someone needed to turn it
around, pull it all together.
Mitt took over.
>> He immediately starts kind of
establishing himself as a leader
within the church because
there's a vacuum.
>> NARRATOR: Those closest to
him say the experience had
changed him.
>> He made a commitment to
himself to work as hard.
And I think part of that comes
from that experience of going
overseas and seeing other
people, and having
life-threatening experiences and
deciding that you're going
to-what you're going to make out
of your life.
And he decided he wanted to make
the most he could out of his
life, and worked as hard as he
possibly could to do that.
>> NARRATOR: By the early 1980s,
Barry Obama had left Hawaii and
his grandparents behind.
Now he was on the mainland, in
Los Angeles, at Occidental
They called it Oxy.
>> He was the most casual,
unpretentious, nicest guy.
I mean, my indelible image of
him was always in a Hawaiian
shirt, and some OP shorts and
I don't know that he had a long
pair of pants during college.
>> NARRATOR: He'd come to Oxy
with an attitude straight from
Hawaii-- "cool head, main
thing"-- a laid-back sensibility
that didn't wear well with
>> For the first time there are
African-Americans there, not in
enormous number, but enough that
there is... there is the kids
from Compton, from Philadelphia,
from LA, from Seattle.
>> He was a white black kid,
you know.
And that has meaning for us in
the sense of he was black in
skin color but he didn't
necessarily identify with being,
with his blackness with same way
I did.
>> They didn't think he was one
of them.
Sort of a repetitive theme in
his life after that.
Is he black enough?
>> Yes.
There was some pushback from
certain individuals that
weren't, again, as open-minded
to the world, who, no matter you
And so people were trying to
figure out who Barack was, at
the same time that he was trying
to figure out who he was.
>> NARRATOR: Obama began to try
to build another group like the
Choom Gang, this time with a
core group of foreign students.
>> I didn't at that time
consider him a stereotypical or
fit any of the image of any kind
of American, neither the whites
nor the blacks.
I didn't consider him American.
He seemed like an international
>> He would reach out and bring
people together.
And you know we had our close
African friends here, close
Israeli friends here.
There was an Italian guy, a
French guy, a Serbian guy, the
Pakistani guy.
>> There was in fact a couple of
French people, I forget her
name, perhaps Kathleen.
There was a Swiss girl.
There was an Indian guy, Vinay.
It was he and a couple of
>> My roommate was Latino.
I mean, it was awesome.
It was a cultural soup that
really tasted good for everyone,
you know, and he was in the
center of it.
>> NARRATOR: Eventually, he took
an important step.
>> I asked, you know, "Barry
What kind of name is that for a
You know, where are you
from exactly?"
And he said, "Well, I'm from
Hawaii, but my father was
And his name was Barack Obama.
And I go by Barry so that I
don't have to explain my name
all the time, and go into a long
explanation of myself."
And so I said, "Well, if
your name is Barack Obama,
I'm going to call you Barack
Obama because I like that name.
>> NARRATOR: In the school's
literary magazine, Barry now
identified himself as Barack
>> I think the word "Barack" is
absolutely essential to that
identity of being, "I am a man.
I am a man with a future.
I need to be prepared for
whatever that is going to be.
I don't know the answers yet.
But I sure as heck know I won't
get there if I hang out and take
things for granted and just be
kind of a smart guy."
>> NARRATOR: But Barack was
restless at Occidental.
He decided it was time to leave.
He would transfer to Columbia
University in New York City.
>> One day he told me he was
transferring to Columbia.
He had, I think, a need for a
more expansive environment, more
stimulating urban environment to
grow intellectually.
So that was his choice.
>> He needed to actually
physically leave and fly across
the country and start again at
this much more rigorous school
to be Barack Obama, the
promising young scholar
intellectual that would grow up
to be president.
>> NARRATOR: Barack Obama came
east to engage the world,
especially the black world.
He started by moving to the edge
of Harlem.
>> If we wanted things to be
harder for ourselves, we
succeeded wonderfully.
It was kind of a gritty
The apartment next door to us on
the third floor was burned out
and stayed that way the whole
time that we lived there.
We had, like, five locks on the
door, including one of those
bars that you put in after
you've gone inside the
>> NARRATOR: A couple
of friends from the Oxy days
joined him.
>> I think it was complete
intimidation by New York City,
which seemed rougher and tougher
and uncivilized than any other
place either of us had lived.
And both of us were probably
questioning, "Why the heck did I
come to this place?"
It was scary and we had no
>> Well, New York to me is the
key to his life.
It's the period where he does
the least, but figures out the
>> NARRATOR: To find a
connection to the black
community, Obama headed out into
Harlem and all over the city.
But it turned out to be harder
than Obama imagined.
>> He told me this when I
interviewed him in the White
He made no lasting
African-American friends during
those four years in New York.
>> NARRATOR: No Choom Gang, the
inner circle was much smaller.
>> The New York years are marked
by this kind of turning inward.
He spends time reading, fasting,
wandering the city.
There's this almost monk-like
>> NARRATOR: As he walked the
streets, friends say he was
affected by the poverty all
around him.
>> I saw a transformation in the
Barry I had met in Occidental.
He got very serious and less
lighthearted and our
conversations were more about
serious things, wouldn't want to
go around the bar, have a drink,
was worried about poor people,
didn't care about getting rich.
I mean, that's my opinion of
dull at that time.
>> There is one great letter
where he describes how all of
his Choom Gang friends are sort
of getting into the mainstream
and his Pakistani friends are
all moving toward the business
And to him all of that seems too
small, too categorized, too
>> "Caught without a class, a
structure, or tradition to
support me, in a sense the
choice to take a different path
is made for me.
The only way to assuage my
feelings of isolation are to
absorb all the traditions,
classes; make them mine, me
>> And, he's trying to say,
"Where do I fit?"
For me to exist, I have
to be larger than it.
I have to embrace it all, make
it all mine.
He writes that.
And I think in that simple
sentence you see everything
about who he wanted to be and
what he needed.
He didn't want to be limited.
>> He comes from a multicultural
background, experience of
Indonesia and Pakistan and
California, New York... an
experience to the different
cultures that we had.
I think what he's doing at that
time that I knew him, was trying
to say, "Let's unite around what
we share, not what's different
about us."
>> NARRATOR: Obama had
discovered something important
about himself, something that
would help shape the rest of his
>> What Obama has figured out by
the time he leaves New York is
that it is possible for him to
be in a black community, while
maintaining that larger
sensibility of being a product
of the world and open to the
diversity, the vast diversity of
this country and of the world.
They don't have to be in
conflict, he doesn't have to
choose between one or the other.
He has figured his way to get
>> NARRATOR: When he was 23, he
took a job in Chicago as a
community organizer.
>> Blacks, whites, Hispanics,
Jews, Gentiles...
>> NARRATOR: Obama arrived in
Chicago after the election of
the city's first black mayor,
Harold Washington.
>> ...have joined hands to form
a new democratic coalition...
(applause and cheers)
>> I think that the fact that
Chicago had elected an
African-American mayor in Harold
Washington sort of emphasized
with Barack that he was coming
to a city where blacks were a
major presence and had
some significance.
>> NARRATOR: Washington's
politics were a living example
of what Obama was looking for.
>> What Washington was able to
do was to put together these
coalitions-- African-Americans,
Latinos and progressive whites.
And he was able to pull that
together and beat the machine.
>> God bless you all and thank
you from the bottom of my heart.
>> And that kind of coalition
building was incredibly
influential for Barack.
>> NARRATOR: Obama's laboratory
would be the city's South Side.
>> We had put an ad in a number
of newspapers for a community
organizer in the South Side of
I'm looking for anybody who
might be a good organizer, but I
particularly need somebody who's
>> And Obama at that period
of time, he is not sure he is
For the guys that are
hiring him, you know, "You'll do
just fine."
(people singing gospel music)
>> NARRATOR: But not everyone on
the South Side of Chicago
embraced the Ivy League
>> He had to work with a lot of
different church leaders who
weren't necessarily receptive to
this young guy who came from the
Ivy League and did not have
Chicago roots.
>> You know, Chicago's a town
that says, "We don't want nobody
that nobody sent."
Well, Barack was somebody
that nobody sent.
>> And so both local politicians
and local pastors, sometimes who
can act like politicians, were
threatened by Barack.
Those pastors would use
I mean, he was called a pawn of
Jews and Catholics, certainly an
This whole issue of, you know,
is he black enough, you know,
began to arise.
>> NARRATOR: With mixed success,
he tried to build coalitions for
three years.
But he had become frustrated.
He wrote about it in a letter to
a friend.
>> "It's tough.
Lots of driving, lots of hours
on the phone trying to break
through lethargy, lots of dull
Lots of frustration."
>> At that point, he begins
thinking about, "Is there some
other way to do the same job
that I'm trying to do?" which is
lift people out of poverty.
>> NARRATOR: He decided to move
on, this time to law school.
>> He said to some of his
community organizing buddies, he
needed that credential, that
Harvard Law degree, to access
the corridors of power.
>> NARRATOR: Christmas-time in
1968, Mitt Romney returned to
Detroit from his Mormon mission.
His mother and father were
waiting at the airport, and so
was his high school girlfriend,
Ann Davies.
>> Ann is at the airport with
his family.
Now remember, when Mitt Romney
was in France, Ann Davies
had grown very close to Romney's
His father George had actually
converted her to Mormonism.
So, in some ways the family knew
Ann better than Mitt did.
>> NARRATOR: They'd met when she
was a high school sophomore, 15
years old.
He was an 18-year-old senior.
At Mitt's senior prom, they
promised to get married.
>> And I was so young.
And, after three and a half
years, I started wondering, you
know, how was I going to feel?
Or how do I really even still
I don't know.
I hadn't seen him or been with
him for such a long time.
>> NARRATOR: They sat together
on the jump seat in the back of
Mitt's sister's car.
>> And it was just the two of us
in the back seat.
And it was such an amazing car
ride home, because we both said,
"We've waited so long.
Why should we wait any longer?
Let's just get married now, like
And it was a bit of a shock to
They didn't-- anyone-- quite
think that was a great idea,
including my parents.
But that's how we felt.
It was really kind of amazing.
>> NARRATOR: The wedding was
held three months later.
He was 22, she was 19.
According to Mormon doctrine,
Ann and Mitt were now bound
forever, into eternity.
>> It seems like as fabled in
romance as we've ever seen, that
they fell in love at first sight
at 15, and that's quite
So, of course, that's a
relationship you want to sustain
for all eternity, and Mormonism
promises that.
You are already sealed as a unit
for on into the eternities.
>> NARRATOR: They began to raise
a family, and by the time Mitt
was 24, he headed for a graduate
school his dad had wanted to
>> One of George's ambitions in
life when he was a young man was
to go to Harvard Business
And George never ended up doing
that, didn't graduate college.
>> NARRATOR: Mitt Romney arrived
on the Harvard campus at just
the moment a new, radical
approach to business was being
>> He was at Harvard Business
School at the time of a real
revolution sweeping through this
place that the American
industrial corporation was kind
of deeply diseased and troubled,
in a way that was threatening
the entire welfare of the
>> They hated the clubbiness
that executives had with each
They thought that personal
relationships, the kind of golf
course buddy-buddiness was what
made companies slow and kind of
insular and not open to
new ideas.
>> NARRATOR: It was a departure
from the way Romney's father had
done business.
>> It's not you go to work for a
company and rise through the
That's what it's not.
Instead, it's you kind of
parachute into a situation and
the whole concept is, you're
going to see things that the
people who have been running the
company for generations just
can't see, that's going to
double the value of the company.
So that's a pretty powerful set
of ideas.
>> NARRATOR: And this man, Bill
Bain, had created a consulting
company designed to ride the new
He offered Mitt a top job.
>> Mitt gets a call to say,
"Hey, why don't you come to this
new consulting group called
And he's really excited
about the idea.
>> NARRATOR: From the beginning,
Mitt proved himself adept at
And then a bigger idea: creating
an investment fund.
>> This guy, he looked perfect,
he dressed perfect, he spoke
perfectly, he asked the most
poignant questions in a very,
very nice way.
>> NARRATOR: Mitt helped make
Tom Stemberg rich.
Back in 1986, Stemberg had a big
>> Staples was this big new idea
to open a new kind of store.
Prior to Staples, you had to go
to a stationery store, to a
business machine store, to a
computer store, to a software
store to a supermarket to get
all the things that Staples put
under one roof.
>> NARRATOR: It was one of
Romney's first big deals running
Bain's new private equity fund.
Stemberg wanted $2.5 million to
open his first stores.
Mitt was a hard sell.
>> Mitt felt a lot of pressure.
He was under an inordinate
amount of pressure.
There would be times where Mitt
would sort of jokingly sit and
flap his tie like, "Oh, man,
this thing better work out."
>> They say that he almost had
trouble coming to decisions on
his own, that he always wanted
the data to be so compelling
that everybody in the room would
simply agree.
>> NARRATOR: He finally decided
Staples looked like a sure
And he was right.
>> They made something like six
or seven times their money on
that investment.
It was one of the things that
allowed Bain Capital to grow to
the very significant firm it's
become today.
>> NARRATOR: And Romney moved
Bain into a lucrative new field:
leveraged buyouts.
The gold rush was on.
>> The people who were either
smart enough or lucky enough to
enter that space when Romney
did, all did fabulously well.
It was just a great, you know,
it was kind of being in the
right place at the right time.
>> We sold Calumet Coach, made a
terrific profit.
We made 35 times our money on a
$1 million investment.
We sold Accuride.
We made 24 times our money on a
$2.5 million investment.
>> There was one deal that was
very profitable that basically
was turned around and flipped in
about seven weeks.
This deal, one of Romney's
partners said this was like
being hit by the, quote, "lucky
Another deal in which he
invested $50 million in
the Yellow Pages company in
Italy and got back a billion
dollars, this partner said that
was like being "thrashed,"
unquote, by the lucky stick.
>> NARRATOR: Mitt and his team
memorialized their early success
with a photograph.
>> These folks think that they
went like a giant tidal wave
through the American economy and
essentially saved it by kicking
out all of these
good-for-nothing CEOs and making
companies, once again,
economically efficient and
These folks think they're heroes
and they saved America.
And the public thinks they are
villains and their whole job is
to enrich themselves and destroy
>> NARRATOR: The aftermath of
some of the leveraged buyout
deals was devastating:
bankruptcies, factory closures,
employees laid off.
>> Bain Capital was never set up
to be a job creation program.
It was set up to make wealthy
investors even wealthier.
They didn't sit around the table
talking about how many jobs this
would create.
Oftentimes it was the opposite,
how many jobs could be cut to
make the company more efficient.
>> Mitt is a person who wants to
be successful.
Making money is how you're
measured in the private equity
and venture capital business,
but you're making money for your
investors first and foremost,
and that was always Mitt's focus
was to make money for them.
>> NARRATOR: The way those
closest to him tell it, he had
come to see himself as a white
He could fix almost anything.
>> There is something sort of
messianic about the culture of
private equity.
There's this internal sense of
"We're the people who are
disciplined and smart and we
know how to make things work."
He goes through life recreating
this drama where he steps in and
saves the situation, saves the
He likes that idea of there's a
crisis that nobody but me can
fix, and then he goes in and
fixes it.
>> NARRATOR: By 1988, Barack
Obama was a law student at
>> We're all precious...
>> We're all precious...
>> In God's sight...
>> In God's sight...
>> NARRATOR: At the time,
Harvard was a hotbed of
political activism.
>> The political environment on
the law school campus in the
late '80s and early '90s was
borderline toxic.
>> No more racism!
>> No more racism!
>> No more sexism!
>> No more sexism!
>> Harvard Law School was a
place of big contending ideas,
big arguments, among the
faculty, among the students.
Everyone was organized.
Everyone argued, everyone fought
over things.
>> NARRATOR: In the superheated
racial disputes, Obama
maneuvered to become the middle
man, a conciliator.
>> And I remember him sauntering
up to the front and not giving
us a lecture but engaging us in
a conversation.
>> He was clearly someone who
was so open to alternative
viewpoints and so capable of
empathizing with people of all
stripes that it certainly didn't
surprise me that he was able to
build bridges across those
>> NARRATOR: And at the
prestigious Harvard Law Review,
Obama's bridge building had won
over many of the publication's
conservative members.
>> The people on the right
really liked Barack.
Even if at the end of the day he
disagreed, they thought that he
treated them with respect and
they thought that many of the
liberal and left students did
>> I've worked at the Supreme
Court, I've worked at the White
House, I've been in Washington
now for almost 20 years, and the
bitterest politics I've ever
seen in terms of it getting
personal and nasty was on the
Harvard Law Review.
>> NARRATOR: Brad Berenson was a
member of the Conservative
Federalist Society.
One day, he and his associates
would help run the Bush
>> The conservatives on the
Harvard Law School campus at
that time were severely
>> NARRATOR: Inside the toxic
environment of the Law Review,
Obama's affinity for the
politically conservative
students surprised his black
>> I don't know why at the time
he was able to communicate so
well with them, even spend
social time with them, which was
not something I would ever have
>> NARRATOR: No African-American
had ever been president of the
Law Review.
In his second year, Obama won
the job.
>> Although I'm honored and I
think people can say that my
election symbolizes some
progress, at least within the
small confines of the legal
community, I think it's real
important to keep the focus
on the broader world out there
and see that for a lot of kids,
the doors that have been opened
to me aren't open to them.
African-American editors were
>> I think a lot of the minority
editors on The Review expected
him to use his discretion to the
maximum extent possible to
empower them.
>> There was an expectation on
the part of his more progressive
colleagues at the Law Review
that he would side with them on
>> Barack was reluctant to do
It's not that he was out of
sympathy with their views, but
his first and foremost goal, it
always seemed to me, was to put
out a first-rate publication.
And he was not going to let
politics or ideology get in the
way of doing that.
>> NARRATOR: Only one
African-American student
received a top editor's job.
Conservative members were given
>> The whole slate was taking
I was kind of hoping to get a
masthead position, and I did not
get a masthead position.
I was hurt.
I think was... I would call it
very hurt.
And I told him so.
I mean, certainly, he was aware
of how I felt.
>> NARRATOR: As the president of
the Law Review, Obama could have
clerked for a Supreme Court
justice or taken a high paying
job at a corporate law firm.
>>He wanted
to make a difference.
It was clear that he was there
with a kind of burning sense of
obligation and ambition.
>> NARRATOR: But Obama had
something else in mind.
He'd return to Chicago to write
a book, to teach law and
eventually run for office.
And there was another reason to
return to Chicago.
Two years earlier, he had
interned at a big law firm.
>> We always assign a junior
lawyer to keep an eye and be
sort of a mentor.
We assigned a young lawyer named
Michelle Robinson.
And one night my wife Jo and I
went to the movies.
We ran into Barack and Michelle
at the movies.
And I think they were a little
You weren't supposed to be
dating the summer interns.
But they fell in love at our
>> NARRATOR: She had also
graduated from Harvard Law
Chicago was her hometown.
>> She comes from a middle-class
working family with working
family values and strong church
She went to public school and
she and my daughter were
classmates, they were friends,
and so she has roots there.
>> Barack is very smart and very
intellectual, but in Michelle,
he found a partner who was able
to ground him personally in ways
that he hadn't been previously.
And that has been profoundly
>> NARRATOR: And Michelle
provided something he had never
had: a home and stability.
>> For him to feel comfortable
in himself he had to find
Michelle and had to find his
place in a black family, and
that's what she represented.
He can feel comfort in the home
that he finds with Michelle and
in the South Side of Chicago and
yet, he can still use that, what
he always will have, which is
that transcendent cross-cultural
sensibility of someone who came
up in both worlds.
That makes everything else
possible from then on.
>> NARRATOR: In 1982, the Mormon
Church again called Mitt Romney
into service.
Like his father, who had also
been a church official, he would
be ordained as a bishop,
in Massachusetts.
>> Bishops are chosen out of the
There has to be a record of
willing service over a long
period of time, and you have to
have certain moral and spiritual
>> NARRATOR: He would spend 20
to 30 hours each week helping
other Mormons handle their most
personal problems: debt,
sickness, unwanted pregnancies
and failing marriages.
>> The responsibility to helping
them resolve their difficulties
and recommit to each other falls
on the shoulders of the bishop.
>> NARRATOR: At first, Bishop
Romney was viewed by some as
inflexible, what Mormons call an
"iron rodder."
>> Some people describe him as
being very much out of that
hidebound tradition where he's
telling women that they cannot
have an abortion, he's telling
single women to give up their
children for adoption, because
the Mormon Church does not
encourage single parenthood,
that he's resistant to calls for
changes within the church for
more liberal policies,
especially toward women.
>> NARRATOR: But as time wore
on, he'd been intimately
introduced to real people in
real-life crisis for the first
Romney thawed a bit.
>> The experience that more or
less every Mormon bishop has at
getting so involved with
people's lives, with their
financial struggles,
or their, behind happy faces,
sometimes marital struggles or
crises of faith.
I remember him a time or two
shaking his head, saying,
"I had little idea that people
live like this."
>> NARRATOR: During those years,
Romney seems to have
strengthened his belief that
neighbors, not just government,
should help those who are
>> Whether consciously or not,
you're really socialized to
think, as a Mormon, these
functions, these kind of welfare
state functions, are not
government functions.
They are functions to be done by
the voluntary sector.
It's this sort of Tocquevillian
idea that, you know, people take
care of each other at the
community level.
This isn't what the central
government does for people.
>> NARRATOR: Romney served four
years as a bishop and many more
as a senior Mormon leader.
Then he decided to turn to
>> The reason Mormons do get
interested in public service
comes out of a sense that we
have a mission.
>> NARRATOR: For Romney and
other Mormons, America holds a
special place.
>> I think Romney has a deep
commitment to the United States
and to the Americas, because
Mormons do believe it's a holy
land and honor the Constitution
as coming from God.
>> We believe that the United
States of America is that place
that had to be free so that God
could bring truth back to Earth.
And we revere it for that
>> And Joseph Smith even alluded
to the United States
Constitution being...
its framers being inspired,
the Constitution as an inspired
document, not quite scripture
but somewhere in that league.
>> NARRATOR: Some Mormons say
Mitt's political ambition may be
connected to his faith.
>> The Kingdom of God is to be
built on Earth, and we all are
to take part in doing that.
So when somebody says...
somebody does something really
remarkable, someone may remark,
"It's an act of consecration in
building the Kingdom on Earth."
And Mitt may very well see the
presidency as part of that,
and it would certainly be a
great accomplishment in building
the Kingdom on Earth.
>> NARRATOR: Back in 1994, when
he had failed against Ted
Kennedy, his chances of becoming
president seemed remote.
But five years later, in 1999,
he saw another opportunity to be
in the public eye.
>> With scandals swirling around
the Salt Lake City Olympics of
>> Several members were bribed
for their votes...
>> NARRATOR: A bribery scandal
threatened the Salt Lake Winter
>> Growing scandal is turning
into a gold-plated disaster...
>> NARRATOR: In Salt Lake City,
the home of the Mormon Church,
they needed help.
>> The payoffs have become
a part of the Games,
and Salt Lake got caught...
>> The story here always was
that we were looking for a
"white knight" to come riding in
and save the Olympics.
And a lot of people saw that in
Mitt Romney.
>> NARRATOR: Romney knew this
might be a chance to serve his
>> Strongly urging the
appointment of Romney...
>> NARRATOR: And raise his
profile nationally.
>> Question of whether to close
the deal with Mitt Romney...
>> NARRATOR: But there was a
problem: Ann was sick, diagnosed
with multiple sclerosis.
>> She told me that over the
holidays they had all been out
at their house in Utah, and that
she was so... felt so powerless
because she couldn't get out of
>> I knew there was something
seriously wrong with me.
I was very fatigued,
and I was in bed a lot, really
in bed most of the time.
I just couldn't really take care
of myself, even.
>> He was worried about my
mother's heath.
And he wanted to stay in Boston,
where they had a doctor and a
plan set up.
And my mom said, "No, this is
You need to go back and do this.
I'll find some treatment out
>> As of today, there's a new
head of the Salt Lake Olympic
>> Boston millionaire Mitt
>> NARRATOR: By February 1999,
it was official: Romney would
take charge.
>> Mitt Romney, who has the
Olympian task of cleaning up the
Salt Lake Games...
>> These Games and the
preparation leading up to these
Games will be held at the
highest level of ethical
There is no possible excuse
for compromise of principal.
>> NARRATOR: He used his
business school playbook:
slashed costs, fired the
deadwood, raised money from
corporate sponsors.
The money came pouring in.
>> Mitt's experience as a
missionary, and then throughout
his career of knocking on doors
and approaching people and
asking for things, even at Bain
and Company, he'd had a lot of
experience in that, and Mitt
used all of that accumulated
experience from his life at the
>> NARRATOR: And things were
looking up for Ann.
>> It wasn't like all of a
sudden I was better.
It took years.
It literally took years for me
to regain my balance and to
regain some of my strength.
But I knew was slowly inching my
way to being a little stronger.
>> NARRATOR: And as opening day
approached, the cameras were
rolling as Ann, with Mitt
running in the background,
carried the torch into Salt Lake
>> When she went to Utah,
she was hardly able to walk;
she was very tired.
The thought of her running a
quarter mile would have been
You thought, "Well, maybe she's
going to be okay after all."
It was just a great feeling
for all of us.
(crowd cheering)
>> NARRATOR: The turnaround
was complete.
The stage was set for Mitt
Romney's political career.
>> You have this redemption of
sorts, where he is a national
figure again.
He's standing with the
President, and I think that
would of course pay huge
dividends not long after.
>> The delegates are trickling
into Boston...
>> 35,000 people are expected
to descend on Boston...
>> The convention is being held
in the heart of the city...
>> NARRATOR: By 2004, Barack
Obama was back in Boston.
In the years since law school,
he'd become a state senator and
had had that failed run against
Bobby Rush.
>> The buzz was there was this
up-and-coming young state
senator from Illinois.
Most people probably couldn't
pronounce his name.
>> NARRATOR: Now he was running
for the U.S. Senate in Illinois
and was the keynote speaker at
the 2004 Democratic convention.
>> The next Senator
from the state of Illinois,
Barack Obama!
(crowd cheering)
>> NARRATOR: He was virtually
But he had, in effect, been
writing the speech since
Punahou, and Oxy, and those long
years in New York City.
>> Tonight is a particular honor
for me because, let's face it,
my presence on this stage is
pretty unlikely.
My father was a foreign student,
born and raised in a small
village in Kenya.
>> He put himself in the middle
of the American story and he
made people feel that there was
still an America that could come
together despite all of the
divisions, and that in some way
or another he was able to embody
those aspirations about what
Americans thought they wanted to
see happen in the country.
>> There is not a liberal
America and a conservative
America, there is the United
States of America.
There is not a black America, a
white America, a Latino America,
an Asian America, there's the
United States of America.
>> Michelle sees this happening.
And she has tears streaming down
her cheeks.
I'm sitting in the crowd, and a
woman next to me is crying,
bawling her eyes out.
She just keeps screaming,
"This is history.
This is history."
>> Thank you very much,
everybody, God bless you.
Thank you.
>> This guy's going places!
It's amazing.
He's still a state senator
in Illinois.
I mean, he is not a United
States Senator yet.
>> I understood immediately
that things had changed.
And all around were people
with tears in their eyes.
And I realized at that moment
that his life would never be
the same, that he had just
taken a leap forward.
>> Forget uniters and dividers,
tonight we heard from a
>> He lit it up.
People talked about him quite
openly as the first black
president of the United States.
>> Obama is expected to be
thrown into the limelight...
He can barely show his face in
public without creating some
kind of sensation...
>> NARRATOR: By January 2005,
Barack Obama was a United States
senator on the rise.
>> He came to the Senate almost
immediately with everyone's high
expectations, with everyone's
assumption that this was a man
who was on a fast track.
>> NARRATOR: But for Obama, life
as a legislator in Congress was
not what he had in mind.
>> As soon as he gets to the
U.S. Senate, he's bored.
He is pretty open about the fact
that the Senate is too slow and
it's a place where you basically
have to spend several terms
before you have any power and
Obama was never going to be the
kind of guy who, you know, ends
up in a wheelchair on the Senate
>> NARRATOR: After only a year
in the Senate, he started asking
the question that had been asked
ever since the Boston speech:
should he run for president?
>> We went to my favorite
restaurant and took the kitchen
table in the back where nobody
could see us.
I tell him he should do it and
that he shouldn't assume, if he
passes up this window, that
there will be another because
the longer he's in Washington,
the more history he has.
And the more history he has, the
more he's going to be explaining
his votes and his actions and
his statements and his positions
that undermine his message.
>> We can finally bring the
change we need to Washington.
We are ready to take this
country in a fundamentally new
The American people are looking
for change in America.
Fired up!
Ready to go!
Fired up!
>> NARRATOR: Obama promised he
could bridge the partisanship
that divided Washington.
>> I think there is a part of
Barack Obama that believes that
if he simply sat down with
people, he could work things
He thought he could sit down
with Republicans, and if we
simply close the doors and hash
it out, we can walk out of here
with a deal that everybody could
be happy with.
>> NARRATOR: But not everyone
believed bipartisanship would be
so easy.
>> We believed, in the Clinton
campaign, that polarization is
inevitable given the kind of
campaigns that the Republicans
wage, and given the history that
we've experienced.
>> Now I could stand up here and
say, "Let's just get everybody
together, let's get unified, the
sky will open, the light will
come down, celestial choirs will
be singing.
And everyone will know we should
do the right thing, and the
world will be perfect."
Maybe I've just lived a little
long, but I have no illusions
about how hard this is going to
You are not going to wave a
magic wand have the special
interests disappear.
(crowd cheering)
>> NARRATOR: But 2008 was not
Hillary Clinton's year or John
>> Barack Obama is projected to
be the next president.
>> Senator Barack Obama of
Illinois will be the next
>> Barack Obama will be the 44th
President of the United States.
>> Barack Obama, 47 years old,
will become the President of the
United States.
>> That night when he came out,
the look on his face to me
looked like someone who finally
understood the weight of the job
that he had just won.
>> NARRATOR: But that night,
Obama must have believed the
bipartisan change he had
promised was now within sight.
>> Americans sent a message
to the world that we have never
been just a collection of
individuals or a collection of
Red States and Blue States.
We are, and always will be,
the United States of America.
>> You have, in Obama's case,
gone within four years from
being an Illinois state
politician to the most famous
person on earth, and you have
confidence in both your judgment
about what's the right way to go
and your ability to make it that
>> America can change.
Our union can be perfected.
And what we've already achieved
gives us hope for what we can
and must achieve tomorrow.
>> If he was too confident about
being able to bring people
together, one can understand,
given the way he'd spent the
previous four years.
>> This is our moment.
Yes we can.
Thank you, God bless you, and
may God Bless the United States
of America.
(crowd cheering)
(crowd chanting): Yes we can!
>> Mitt Romney, fresh from
running the Winter Olympics...
>> NARRATOR: Just three weeks
after the Olympics ended in
March of 2002...
>> ... announced that he's
running for the GOP nomination
for Governor.
>> NARRATOR: ... Mitt Romney
was back in Massachusetts.
>> Republicans said Romney
emerged as a kind of shining
>> Lest there be any doubt,
I'm in.
The bumper stickers have been
printed, the web site is going
up tomorrow morning, the
campaign papers are filed today.
>> NARRATOR: It had been 40
years since his dad had run for
>> Thank you very much.
Appreciate it.
>> It sort of mirrored what his
dad had done.
His dad had become a successful
executive in American business
and then served in public
service as governor.
So there was definitely a
parallel there.
>> NARRATOR: The Romney
playbook's first step:
create a plan.
>> It was clear that to be
successful in Massachusetts, you
had to run as a socially
liberal, fiscally conservative
Pro-choice, but concerned about
>> NARRATOR: Romney applied his
business training to
Massachusetts politics.
>> I really think that he is a
product of a world where you do
market research to find out
what's working, what's not
You do controlled experiments.
And then you dovetail your
product to suit the marketplace.
He's looked at what the market
wants and he's looked at what
niche there is.
>> I'm someone who is moderate,
and my views are progressive...
>> When he was running for the
governorship, a question came up
about how he felt about
abortion, what his fundamental
convictions were on the issue
of abortion.
>> And they're going to vote for
me regardless of the party
>> And I spoke to one of his
close friends at the time who
was also a political aide who
sat down with Mitt and said,
"All right, let's talk it
What do you really believe?"
And he said that he found that
Mitt Romney was unable to
consider the question in the
abstract, that Mitt Romney
dealt with it as a managerial
problem, dealt with it as a
case study.
>> It's tough to say what he
I'm not sure exactly what he
believes on social issues, even
though I was closely involved in
the campaign.
Mitt Romney was certainly
comfortable being a liberal on
social issues in 2002 if it was
going to help him win.
And that's clearly what it would
take in Massachusetts to win.
>> NARRATOR: As election day
loomed, Romney went one-on-one
with his opponent Shannon
O'Brien in a televised debate.
>> It was close.
Shannon was up with about a
week to go.
And then they had the last
debate, and it was over at
Suffolk Law.
>> NARRATOR: O'Brien attacked,
directly questioning Romney's
pro-choice position.
>> Ted Kennedy said it best:
"Mitt Romney isn't pro-choice,
he's not anti-choice,
he's multiple choice."
I was very blunt in saying to
him that I didn't think he was
telling the truth about his
position on choice.
He'd been pro-choice when he ran
against Ted Kennedy.
He'd been pro-choice when he
ran against me.
In the middle, while he was at
the Olympics, he didn't want a
>> I will preserve and protect a
woman's right to choose, and
your effort to continue to try
and create fear and deception
here is unbecoming.
It's an issue that's important.
I've established my view very
>> He basically attacked me and
said I was, quote, "unbecoming"
for having questioned his
veracity, that I was questioning
his integrity.
>> I will preserve and protect a
woman's right to choose,
and I'm devoted and dedicated to
honoring my word in that regard.
>> NARRATOR: Romney's
performance was decisive.
The voters were convinced.
>> And he won that debate,
and he got tremendous momentum.
>> The next Governor of
Massachusetts, Mitt Romney!
>> NARRATOR: On November 5,
2002, Romney was elected
governor of Massachusetts.
He was 55 years old, the same
age his father had been when he
was elected governor of
>> Mitt Romney, the 70th
Governor of the Commonwealth of
>> And he wasted no time
getting down to business...
>> NARRATOR: As governor,
Mitt Romney hit the wall.
The state legislature was
dominated by the Democrats.
>> You could argue that he
didn't run the state government,
because he couldn't run the
state government, because he
didn't have the votes of
support, and therefore that
he was a Republican island
in a Democratic sea.
>> NARRATOR: Romney wasn't one
of the boys-- a political
backslapper-- didn't engage
with the legislature
on a personal basis.
>> And coming from Corporate
America, that kind of compounded
the problem.
He truly didn't have an
understanding of how valuable
the political personal component
of the business would be as he
went forward with implementing
the political rhetoric into
political policy.
>> NARRATOR: Romney issued more
than 800 vetoes.
Almost all of them were
overridden by the legislature.
>> The Governor came in as an
outsider, four years later he
left as an outsider.
He knew that he wasn't going to
make a lifetime or a career out
of being governor.
>> NARRATOR: Romney had his
eyes on an even bigger prize:
the presidency.
>> It's a little bit like a
consulting engagement.
You go in, you figure out
what the problems are.
You fix things.
You make things better organized
and make them work better,
and then you go on
to the next challenge.
>> NARRATOR: But if he wanted to
run for president, Romney knew
he'd need what the political
pros called "a legacy issue."
And as it turned out, the
Massachusetts Democrats were
wrestling with one he found
appealing: health care.
>> He says his ticket to
national office is going to be
health care.
He decided to try and take
ownership of that issue from the
>> NARRATOR: Romney employed the
familiar Bain method.
He called together a smart team
to crunch the numbers.
>> I'm a professor of economics
at MIT, and I helped Governor
Romney develop the Massachusetts
health care reform,
or Romneycare.
>> NARRATOR: Jonathan Gruber sat
with Romney and carefully
outlined the problem.
>> Romney was in management
consultant mode.
Like, "Here is a problem."
Sort of engineering almost mode.
>> NARRATOR: Romney heard the
bad news.
>> The state of Massachusetts,
which he is governor of, is
bleeding red ink because people
don't have health insurance
and they are driving up costs
for everyone else, and
taxpayers are paying for it.
>> NARRATOR: The uninsured were
bankrupting the government.
But Gruber had a solution:
all residents should be required
to buy insurance.
He called it "the individual
>> Jonathan Gruber says,
"If you don't do the mandate,
you'll cover X amount of people
for X amount of cost.
If you do do the mandate,
you will cover this many more
people, and it will be cheaper."
>> NARRATOR: The mandate
was an idea first proposed
by the conservative Heritage
>> This is a very conservative
"Let's put the onus on
individuals, responsibility."
I think he felt strongly the
moral case for the mandate.
My job was just to see if the
numbers added up, and I think
he was excited they did.
>> Bain management consultant
says, "This is a no-brainier.
You have to do the mandate.
It is cheaper per person and
everyone gets covered."
>> His political people were
actually opposed.
I mean, basically the meeting
largely consisted of him arguing
with his political advisors.
His political advisors were
saying, "We don't think this is
such a smart thing to do."
And Romney is saying,
"No, check this out.
I can do this.
Isn't this neat?
I can make this work."
>> NARRATOR: Now Romney,
the CEO, had to work with
the hostile Democrats
in the legislature.
He made an unusual move.
>> About 8:20 in the morning, I
had just gotten through reading
the papers, I'm getting ready
to go to church, and the bell
rings, and it's Governor Romney.
I was surprised, to say the
Not the type of person I was
expecting in my neighborhood.
>> NARRATOR: Romney pled for
The stakes were high.
>> That was a pretty profound
moment for me.
It isn't every day you get the
Governor to come to your house
and give you the up-up and try
to encourage you to put aside
your differences.
And we sat and we chatted and we
talked for about five minutes,
and off he went.
I kidded with him.
I said, "You know how to get
You know how to get out of this
>> NARRATOR: The Democrats were
There was one other hurdle:
money from Washington.
The best way to get federal
dollars to flow to Massachusetts
was to reach out to his former
rival Ted Kennedy.
>> Look, I wouldn't describe
Romney and Senator Kennedy
as friends.
But they were friendly during
that period in the sense that
they had a cordial relationship
trying to get something done.
>> NARRATOR: And together they
squeezed nearly $400 million out
of the Bush administration.
On April 12, 2006, Romney's
health care legislation,
Romneycare, finally became law.
Massachusetts became the first
state in the nation to have near
universal health care.
>> They devise this epic signing
ceremony at Faneuil Hall in
And there is a fife
and drum corps.
>> NARRATOR: It was in this same
place that Kennedy had destroyed
young Mitt Romney in their first
>> Of course, the last time I
was on this stage with Senator
(crowd laughing)
This for me feels a bit like
the Titanic returning
to visit the iceberg.
>> NARRATOR: It was Mitt
relaxed, relieved.
>> My son said that having
Senator Kennedy and me together,
like this, on this stage, behind
the same piece of landmark
legislation, will help slow
global warming.
(crowd laughing)
That's because Hell
has frozen over.
>> NARRATOR: Senator Kennedy,
never one to be upstaged,
joined in the fun.
>> My son said something too,
and that is when Kennedy and
Romney support a piece of
legislation, usually one of them
hasn't read it.
(crowd laughing)
But that's not true today,
is it, Governor?
>> Ted Kennedy give a speech
cheering on this new law.
Romney signs the bill with 14
different pens that he hands out
to everyone there.
It's a big celebration.
In a sense, it's the kickoff to
Romney's presidential campaign.
>> NARRATOR: Romney believed he
now had what he needed: the
achievement that would help him
win the ultimate prize:
the presidency.
>>> It's the inauguration day
of the nation's first
African-American President...
>> Hundreds of thousands of
people already...
>> NARRATOR: January 20, 2009.
>> I, Barack Hussein Obama,
do solemnly swear...
>> NARRATOR: Barack Obama
inherited a country on the
>> Stunning crowd of people that
converged on the nation's...
>> Our economy is badly
>> NARRATOR: An economy in
>> Greed and irresponsibility
on the part of some...
>> NARRATOR: He kept saying the
problems were big enough, and
his win historic enough, that
everyone in Washington would
join together to fix the
>> He spoke of no less than
remaking America...
>> He got to Washington and he
became President, I think, still
clinging to this view that the
polarization in American
politics could be overcome.
>> This is the biggest inaugural
of all time...
>> You're going to be hearing a
lot of superlatives today, but I
think it is almost impossible to
be too hyperbolic...
>> NARRATOR: To the new
president, it seemed like an
historic opportunity.
>> President Obama did not have
a full sense of what Washington
was going to be like for him.
He had not been in the middle of
these kind of down and dirty
fights, the ugly reality of
governing in Washington today.
>> The President walked into the
presidency with an expectation
that he would be able to reach
across the aisle, that
Republicans and Democrats alike
would be willing to come to the
table and address these issues
that were a significant problem
and needed to be addressed
if we were going to move
the country forward.
>> NARRATOR: And Obama believed
he had a big issue that could
unite Democrats and Republicans:
health care reform.
>> We were sitting in the Oval
Office and we were sort of
having a debate around health
care at one point, and the
president said, "It's about
health care, but it's not really
about health care.
It's also about proving whether
we can still solve big problems
in this country."
And this was going to be the
test case for that.
>> NARRATOR: And it was also
>> There was also this desire to
achieve something great.
People said that his greatest
accomplishment was his own rise.
Bobby Rush in that 2000 race
would say, "What's he ever
really done?"
And there was the sense that
health care... Barack Obama just
wanted it to be his legacy.
>> Everybody loves the idea of
health care reform...
>> This is a huge issue the
president is taking on now...
>> The question is, could health
care reform really happen?
>> NARRATOR: He had been in
office only six weeks.
He wanted to prove
bipartisanship could work.
He gathered in one room at one
time all sides in the debate.
>> They're talking about
lawmakers, doctors, nurses,
>> Bringing together lawmakers
and interest groups...
>> Cabinet officials, members of
Congress, the White House team
conferring on how to overhaul
health care.
>> Many of these players for
years, if not decades, had a
record of opposing any sort of
health care reform efforts.
>> And what a remarkable
achievement that would be.
Something that Democrats and
Republicans, business and labor,
consumer groups and providers,
all of us could share
extraordinary pride in finally
dealing with something that has
been vexing us for so long.
>> I think the President's
intentions were to try and forge
a bipartisan coalition, and was
willing to give it some time
to get that done.
>> So let's get to work.
Thank you.
>> NARRATOR: Behind closed
doors, Obama believed he had a
plan that was both bipartisan
and practical.
It was based on Republican
governor Mitt Romney's plan in
Massachusetts: Romneycare.
They even brought in Romney's
>> Obama gets elected, and
on his health advising team is
a number of my friends who were
now on the Obama team saying,
"Look, we have an opportunity
to do what we were unable to do
under Clinton and get this
>> NARRATOR: There was one
problem: Obama had campaigned
against the Heritage
Foundation's mandate.
>> To his credit, he gets a lot
of people, including myself,
telling him, "Look, you cannot
make this work without the
And he says, "Okay, let's do the
And his advisors say, "This
might not be the right thing to
And he says, "You know, this is
what the experts are telling me
needs to be done.
Let's make this happen."
>> NARRATOR: But he chose to let
Congress take the lead.
Soon the Republicans and
Democrats began to squabble.
>> He didn't carry a big stick.
He wasn't like, LBJ, of course,
because he hadn't sort of come
up through the ranks of the
But it didn't seem like he had
any leverage or any ability to
bring people along.
>> NARRATOR: The president's
political style didn't help.
>> He's not the person who's
going to be the backslapper.
He's not an arm-twister.
He has people who work with him
who are able to do aspects of
the role of engagement that he
doesn't necessarily...
that he doesn't necessarily find
a value in himself engaging in.
>> He is not the type of person
that can, you know, invite
Boehner and the Republicans to
dinner at the White House every
night and schmooze them like LBJ
or Clinton could.
That's not him.
He doesn't even want to do that.
So he has this grander vision of
what he is and what the world
should be, but that doesn't mean
he can bring other people along
with him to that place, because
he doesn't have that
>> NARRATOR: Meanwhile, there
was a furious public reaction.
>> Barack Obama was electable
because he was not too black...
>> Obama lying to the people,
deceiving the people...
The election of Obama will be
a giant step backward in race
>> NARRATOR: And that summer,
anger only grew.
>> That he was more Carlton
Banks than Suge Knight...
>> NARRATOR: Over health care
>> Rammed it down America's
>> NARRATOR: ...the economy,
the bank bailouts,
and the president himself.
>> If you call half the country
racist, what's that going to do
for your fundraising?
>> This was all about Barack
Obama himself.
>> I thought he was probably
born in this country.
Now I have a much bigger
>> He came up so quickly as a
candidate that people did not
think that they had a time
to fully vet him or find out
who he was.
There was all this chatter on
the side, "Who is Barack Obama?"
>> This president has a deep-
seated hatred for white people
or white culture...
>> The country is more polarized
than ever.
Obama just accentuates that
instead of bringing it together.
>> One of the greatest scams in
the history of politics and in
the history of...
>> Obama represents
to a lot of people
a future that they don't...
that scares them.
>> One aspect of it is the death
>> You want to kill my
grandparents, you come through
me first!
>> God will take care of health
>> You dirty thieves!
>> We can't afford it!
>> Afro-Leninism!
>> Anger by the summer of '09
had reached a boiling point.
>> Radical communists and
>> There was a polarizing
quality about Barack Obama that
kind of came roaring forward
once he became president...
>> Baby Killer!
Abortion is Murder!
>> ... and became much more
obvious to people with the rise
of the Tea Party and the battles
over health care.
>> There is an ugliness with
these fringe people who are
comparing the president to
>> He gets the full force of the
Tea Party backlash and the
conspiracy theories just
pummeling him and turning him
into a partisan in a way that he
hadn't experienced before in his
I think that must be difficult
for him to sort of reconcile
with who he knows he is.
>> NARRATOR: With public
opposition to health care reform
mounting and Republican
resistance stiffening, it was
becoming clear there was no hope
for a bipartisan bill.
>> The choice was to do nothing
or to do something with the
tools you had and the majority
that you had.
He chose to do that.
>> NARRATOR: Obama had to
abandon his hopes for
>> Very quickly, Barack Obama
learns that it's not going to
work out the way he thought it
You could not, at the same time,
be a powerful, uncompromising
liberal champion at the same
time you are, you know, reach
across the aisle and building
bridges with conservatives
and the center.
You can't mix and match these
things in a way that people
hoped he could.
>> But first, down to the wire
on health care reform.
The House votes just hours from
>> NARRATOR: It took months, but
on Sunday, March 21, 2010...
>> It is a 15-minute vote.
>> NARRATOR: ... the House took
the final vote on health care
>> On this vote, the yeas are
219, the nays are 212.
The motion is adopted.
>> The 216th vote comes over,
a big cheer erupts.
>> It's 219 to 212.
No votes from Republicans.
>> All Democrats,
no Republicans...
>> Not a single Republican in
the House or the Senate voted
for the health care bill.
It's a huge piece of
legislation, and it is
extremely unusual.
When any of the other major
programs were passed, signed
into law, they were ultimately
done with both Democrat and
Republican votes.
>> NARRATOR: It was victory, but
not the victory the president
wanted, and not the change
he had promised.
>> It came at a high price,
the entire first year basically
dedicated to this, having their
hopes for bipartisanship dashed.
>> It was done on a party line
And it caused great disruption
to the bipartisanship that's
necessary to get things done.
It left a very sour taste
in the mouth of Republicans.
And everything after that also
became essentially a party line
>> Obama is learning, like every
new president does, that a lot
of his theories about politics
and government were just wrong.
Being president is about
understanding the constraints
and frankly, working the system
rather than changing the system.
When he talked about changing
Washington, he was overlooking
some very important underlying
political trends that no
president can actually change.
>> Another Presidential
contender is back to join the
race for President.
>> Is America ready to elect a
Mormon president?
>> Americans may not know his
name, but...
>> NARRATOR: Only one month
after he left the governorship
of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney
traveled to Michigan to the
automobile museum.
>> Also known for his
stewardship of the 2002 Salt
Lake City Olympic games...
>> With the fine people of
Michigan in front of me, and
with my sweetheart at my side, I
declare my intention to run for
President of the United States.
>> NARRATOR: With this
announcement, he had completed
or exceeded every one of his
father's milestones.
>> I love America and I believe
in the people of America...
>> NARRATOR: But Romney's
political ambition had yielded a
candidate decidedly more
conservative than his father.
>> That was a very different
Mitt Romney.
He said that he had been
convinced that he should now be
He tried to woo over social
conservatives and evangelicals.
>> I believe in the sanctity
of human life.
I believe that people and their
elected representatives should
make the laws, not unelected
>> One of his advisors actually
told me this last year, that
in the 2007/2008 campaign, their
theory was the shelf space--
that was his phrase--
the shelf space
in the Republican primaries
was on the right.
That's where he fit in.
>> I believe that homeland
security begins with securing
our borders.
And I believe...
>> He went to where the market
was, and he became the product
he was selling.
And that, on the one hand,
it's sort of effective.
On the other hand, it's sort of
disquieting, because you think,
well, "Who is he?
What would he be as president?
Does he believe anything?"
And these are the open questions
that plague everybody who
watches him.
>> God bless the United States
of America.
Thank you.
>> NARRATOR: The selling of the
new, more conservative Mitt
Romney began months earlier,
in Boston.
>> Shortly after he passed the
health care measure in
Massachusetts in 2006, he took a
walk across Boston Common, and
he and his aides went to the top
of the Ritz Carlton Hotel there.
>> NARRATOR: Gathered at the
hotel were a group of top Iowa
>> I was impressed with him from
the standpoint that I thought he
understood big issues.
But there were some things that
still bothered me, and I wanted
to talk to him about those
>> NARRATOR: Douglas Gross is a
Republican power broker in Iowa.
In that key primary state,
Gross can be pivotal.
>> I was seated
right next to him.
He was at the head of the table.
We had a very fine dinner.
Ann was seated directly across
from me.
And I brought up the three M's.
>> NARRATOR: The three M's:
Mormon, Massachusetts,
>> I brought up the Mormonism
first, and it didn't cause
a problem for me,
but for a lot of evangelical
Christians, particularly in
Iowa, they didn't consider
Mormonism even Christianity, so
they had a difficulty with it.
He sort of dismissed that as an
issue, really clearly didn't
want to talk about it.
So then I went to the next one.
And the next one was money.
>> "How are you going to connect
to the average person?
We're sitting up here, you're
very wealthy, your hair is
perfect, your shirt is
>> Mitt just simply refused
to talk about it.
He looked at me quizzically
and dismissed it.
Ann obviously felt I was
insulting her husband and
indicated that I was by asking
that question.
And the rest of the people in
the room were sort of taken
aback and shocked.
Ann left the room and didn't
join us for the rest of the
evening meal.
>> NARRATOR: It was their first
exposure to Iowa straight talk.
It wouldn't be their last.
>> In Iowa, they have this old
phrase that when you stick
a pig, it squeals.
And I think I hit...
I hit a sensitive spot.
>> Today, Iowans make the
first decision...
>> Battles between two former
>> Iowa packs a big political
>> NARRATOR: From the outset,
Romney had to explain
his flip-flop on abortion.
>> Of course, coming from
Massachusetts was not a big plus
for a lot of folks...
>> One significant issue that
Mitt had a change of heart on,
and that was abortion.
>> NARRATOR: His pro-life
declaration had begun in an
op-ed piece in the Boston Globe.
>> He laid out what his views
were on the subject of life,
and he concluded that he was
firmly pro-life.
>> He genuinely changed his
position on abortion.
Whether that was for political
expediency, as his critics would
say, or out of real conviction,
as he says, in a sense it
didn't matter in that first
campaign because it was seen by
so many people as a political
conversion, not a conviction
>> And you can go up on YouTube
and see the Governor, where he
is on this position.
>> In the business world, you
can go from company to company,
business to business.
You can advertise yourself in a
new way anytime you want.
You can re-brand yourself and it
doesn't make a difference
because the only thing that
matters is if the company is
profitable or not.
>> 1994, Sam.
Look, I was pro-choice.
I am pro-life.
And I'm tired of a...
>> And it is a truthful
>> In politics, it's a little
bit different.
You do that too many times, and
people start to not understand
what is at your core.
>> I get tired of people
who are holier-than-thou
because they've been pro-life
longer than I have.
>> NARRATOR: He had changed his
rhetoric on gun rights, gay
rights, climate change
and the tax pledge.
He lost in Iowa, New Hampshire
and Florida.
Just one month into the
primaries, Romney's campaign was
>> I entered this race because I
love America.
I feel I have to now stand aside
for our party and for our
>> NARRATOR: Romney had fallen
short, unable to secure the
presidential nomination.
(crowd chanting): Mitt! Mitt!
>> The Mitt Romney in 2008 was
partly a politician and very
much a business person and
totally a novice to what it
meant to be a national
>> NARRATOR: He had spent $45
million of his own money on the
>> On the plane back to Boston,
following his announcement,
he turned to me and he said,
"Eric, what are you going to do?
We've got to figure out what our
people are going to do.
They're going to be moving on
into other jobs."
This was not a person
who was thinking about
running again for President.
I think he felt he had his
opportunity and the door had
closed to him.
>> It's a whole new political
world for the president.
>> NARRATOR: November, 2010.
>> An historic election
for the Republican party...
>> NARRATOR: The president's
party suffered a significant
midterm defeat.
>> Now the Republicans back in
power in the House of
>> Democrats are nursing a major
midterm hangover...
>> Tuesday's election
was a game changer...
>> It was really one of the
first times when the country had
a chance to register their
opposition to Obama,
and boy did they.
>> Repudiation of the President
and his policies...
>> No sense in sugar coating
last night's election results...
>> Voters send a message to
Barack Obama...
>> And that, I think, came as a
surprise to this person who
thought that people pretty much
loved him.
>> The GOP gaining at least 58
>> NARRATOR: Many of the
Democrats who had taken what
they call "a hard vote" to
support Obama's health care bill
had lost.
>> I think he understood that
the glory days were over, that
the moment of celebration of
Barack Obama was passed and he
was heading into a much tougher
more trenchant period of his
presidency when everything was
going to be difficult,
when everything was going to be
more challenging.
>> Team Boehner and Team Obama
dig in their heels...
>> NARRATOR: Now the House
belonged to the opposition.
They made it clear that Obama's
domestic agenda was dead in the
The president turned to an area
where he could act without
bipartisan cooperation.
>> His people made it clear that
in the terrorism arena, he was
going to be as tough if not
tougher than the Bush people.
He was going to be
extraordinarily aggressive.
>> NARRATOR: While he presided
over the draw down of troops in
Iraq, Obama dramatically
enhanced covert operations
around the world.
>> He and his people reviewed
all existing ongoing CIA covert
operations, and with the
exception of aggressive
interrogations, endorsed all of
them, and doubled down on a
number of them.
>> NARRATOR: Targeted killings
by drones, covert special forces
raids overseas, cyber-warfare.
President Obama authorized it
all in secret.
>> The man who Americans
had elected to end two wars
and who was in fact winding
down the Iraq War
was also beginning to rev up
these secret wars.
>> He's the first Nobel Peace
Prize winner with a kill list.
And it is very disappointing
to his base.
It is very disappointing to the
Civil Liberties supporters who
thought he was going to be much
more of a stereotypical liberal.
>> NARRATOR: And for President
Obama, it would lead to one
defining triumph.
>> Good evening.
The United States has conducted
an operation that killed Osama
bin Laden...
>> NARRATOR: The killing of
Osama bin Laden in the spring of
2011 was a high point.
>> Thank you and God bless
the United States of America.
>> NARRATOR: But the clashes
with Republicans in Washington
did not go away.
>> Congress now has less than a
week to come up with a plan to
raise the debt ceiling...
>> There's no sign of a deal...
>> NARRATOR: A deal to address
the country's growing debt
crisis, known as the grand
bargain, collapsed.
>> Another White House meeting
failed to break the deadlock
on raising the national
debt ceiling...
>> I just got a call about a
half hour ago from Speaker
Boehner who indicated that he
was going to be walking away
from the negotiations that we've
been engaged in here at the
White House for a big deficit
reduction and debt reduction
>> NARRATOR: Bipartisanship was
long buried.
Now there was open antagonism.
>> When that collapsed and when
that ended up in that terribly
muddy compromise
that nobody liked,
I think that was the turn.
I think at that point he and
everybody around him decided,
"This isn't working and we're
not going to work this way."
>> And the American people I
think are fed up with political
posturing and an inability for
politicians to take responsible
action as opposed to dodge their
>> We've seen his approval
ratings on the economy dip...
>> NARRATOR: Three and half
years after he came to
Washington on a promise of
>> Obama is under 50% approval
>> NARRATOR: ... Barack Obama
returned to the campaign trail
himself changed.
>> A difficult road ahead
for the President...
>> I think you see today a
President Obama with a thicker
skin, more jaundiced eyes,
has grown more skeptical,
even cynical perhaps,
about Washington.
>> No president has been
reelected with this type of
economy since Franklin
>> I think he has become
more cautious, more cagey,
and I would have to say,
maybe with some deserved...
more ill-tempered.
>> NARRATOR: Now, as he makes
the case for reelection, the man
who promised to transcend
differences emphasizes them.
>> The last thing we can afford
is a return to the policies that
got us here in the first place.
>> Then he becomes tougher in
his public rhetoric.
He would rather go out on the
campaign trail, even, and hold
out the Republicans for being
obstructionists than try to sit
down with them.
>> If I said the sky was blue,
they said, "No."
If I said there were fish
in the sea, they said, "No."
They figured, "If Obama fails,
then we win."
>> It's hard to believe that
this is the same person who was
talking about bringing Red
America and Blue America
together, because he is now a
polarizing figure.
>> It's the same agenda that
they have been pushing for
>> And his entire campaign
message is about the differences
between the two parties, not the
>> The choice you face won't
just be between two candidates
or two parties, it will be a
choice between two different
paths for America.
A choice between two
fundamentally different visions
for the future.
>> Markets plunged at the open
this morning after...
>> The economy still struggling
to gain any traction...
>> Unprecedented level of
>> NARRATOR: In the summer of
2011, Mitt Romney saw political
opportunity in the economic
>> An economy many said
would improve in the second half
but hasn't yet...
>> NARRATOR: ... and decided
the country needed his help.
>> We know we can bring
this country back.
I'm Mitt Romney.
I believe in America.
And I'm running for President
of the United States.
>> NARRATOR: This time, Romney
would sell himself as the
turnaround specialist.
>> Turning around a crisis takes
experience and bold action.
>> NARRATOR: His campaign would
aim to be all about the economy.
>> The economy is in crisis
>> The Republican Presidential
candidates have another...
>> NARRATOR: For months, Romney
battled one primary challenger
after another.
>> Romney is trying to put Rick
Santorum behind him...
>> Ron Paul got more than 40%
of the vote...
>> One of his aides once told me
that when Mitt Romney gets
locked in, when he gets focused
and locked in, watch out.
This guy is so goal-oriented,
and once he has something that
he wants, he doesn't stop
until he gets it.
>> NARRATOR: To win the
primaries, he even stopped
talking about his signature
achievement: Romneycare.
>> If we want to get rid of
Obamacare, we're going to have
to replace President Obama.
My mission is to make sure we do
exactly that.
>> In this political market,
Romney's health care plan is a
loser, or seems that way to him.
Even though it's his biggest
achievement as governor, one of
the biggest achievements of his
life, really, if the politics
aren't there or he's worried
that the opposition is too
great, he's not talking about
>> What does Mitt Romney
>> Is he truly a conservative?
>> Not exactly a person of
conviction, not even close.
>> What type of values does he
actually believe in?
>> He has been, "I'll be where
the market needs me to be."
And so the Massachusetts Romney,
obviously very different
from the 2008 Romney.
2008 Romney pretty different
from the 2012 Romney.
And so here's a guy whose skills
are not ideological, they're not
His skills, his passion is about
process, not about ends.
>> He thinks, "The weak
condition of the economy,
that's made for me, Mitt Romney.
I can fix that problem.
And this is what
I'm trained to do.
I can come in, I can build a
team, I can be serious about
I think, you know, with every
fiber of his being, he believes
he can do that.
>> Mr. Chairman and delegates,
I accept your nomination for
President of the United States.
(crowd cheering)
America faces a choice between
these two very different men.
One, a son born to privilege
who followed a path blazed
by his father.
A bishop with a deep faith in
God, family and his own
The other, a son born to an
absent father and mother who
created his own identity and
came to believe that he could
find common ground in a nation's
The challenger, a businessman
who became a turnaround
specialist and crafted himself
to meet the politics of the
The incumbent, a politician
with a breathtaking rise, whose
promise to unite the country
ran into the harsh reality
of politics.
Both believe in their own
destiny to lead America.
Now the nation must decide
between them.
>> The journalists of PBS.
They answer to no one but you.
They take the time to explore
all sides of a story.
That's why PBS is trusted more
than any other television news
You deserve nothing less.
>> Next time on Frontline...
In the last election, few
seemed to doubt that climate
change was real.
>> Climate change poses a
growing danger.
>> The risks of climate change
are real.
>> But today, a successful
campaign has been waged to
introduce more than a shadow
of doubt.
>> This massive global
>> If you pay scientists enough
money, they'll find what you
want them to find.
>> They are cooking the data.
>> How did it happen,
and who's behind it?
Frontline investigates
"Climate of Doubt."
>> Frontline continues online.
>> We really were a family.
>> Hear more about the
>> It was an awful loss for us.
>> In a collection of 15 video
interviews with the people who
know them best.
>> They thought that he treated
them with respect.
>> He looked perfect,
he dressed perfect.
>> Explore our collection of
rarely-seen artifacts from the
candidates' lives.
And follow Frontline
on Facebook and Twitter,
or join the discussion
>> Frontline is made possible
by contributions to your PBS
station from viewers like you.
Thank you.
And by the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting.
Major funding is provided by
the John D. and Catherine T.
MacArthur Foundation,
committed to building a more
just, verdant, and peaceful
Additional funding is provided
by the Park Foundation,
dedicated to heightening public
awareness of critical issues.
And by the Frontline
Journalism Fund.
Captioned by
Media Access Group at WGBH
>> For more on this and other
Frontline programs, visit our
website at
Frontline's "The Choice 2012"
is available on DVD.
To order, visit
or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
Frontline is also available
for download on iTunes.
>> Trusted.