GOP moderates are on the verge of extinction—why Mitt isn’t his father.

If Austin Powers were unfrozen in 2012 from his 1960s cryogenic freeze, there’s one political headline that would make him feel immediately at home: “Romney Struggles With Republican Party Conservatives.”

In 1966, George Romney tried to beat them. In 2012, Mitt Romney hopes to join them. In 1966, moderates seemed destined to rule the GOP forever—and George Romney was their great hope. In 2012, the moderates are on the verge of extinction—and Mitt Romney devotes most of his days to distancing himself from those aspects of his record that make him look like one of them.

Mitt and George Romney were intensely close. Yet few father-and-son politicians have ever been more unlike in their temperaments. George was direct to the point of bluntness. When Barry Goldwater suggested in 1964 that maybe he and George did not differ so much on the issues, George Romney wrote out a 12-page letter explaining exactly how and where they disagreed.

George Romney was shaped by the hard circumstances of his early life. When as a man in his 80s he traveled to visit his son’s campaign offices in Massachusetts, this millionaire former auto CEO rode the subway from Logan Airport, and then took the bus from the subway.

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