George Wilcken Romney, former governor of Michigan, contender for the Republican presidential nomination, U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development and chairman of American Motors Corp., died Wednesday. He was 88.
Romney, who died of natural causes, was found slumped on a treadmill by his wife, Lenore, in their home in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, their son, G. Scott Romney, told reporters.
The Republican leader, who wrested the Michigan governor’s chair from Democrats in 1962 for the first time in 14 years, sought the presidential nomination in 1968. But he dropped out of the race two weeks before the New Hampshire primary.
His national political fizzle was generally attributed to a statement that Romney made on a 1967 television interview show saying he had originally supported the war in Vietnam because he had been “brainwashed” by the military during a tour of the beleaguered Southeast Asian country.
President Richard Nixon named him to the Housing and Urban Development post, which Romney held from 1969 until 1972, when he returned to Michigan and the private sector.
Romney, who was also an official of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, turned away from politics in his later years and devoted himself to encouraging volunteerism as founding chairman of VOLUNTEER: The National Center for Citizen Involvement.