Mar. 3 - Mitt Romney's roots run deep among Mormon community in northern Mexico. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
A Mormon enclave in the north of Mexico. It was here where Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's relatives turned an arid valley into lush agricultural land and prospered after leaving the United States to protect their Mormon beliefs. The story of the early Mormon settlers in Mexico, who fled the threat of arrest in the United States for practicing polygamy, is embodied by Mitt Romney's great-grandfather Miles P. Romney, who crossed south of the border in the late 1880s. His father George was born in the town. Now there are about 300 Mormons left in the area with at least 40 residents still bearing the Romney name. Lamond Tullis, is a historian for the Church of Latter Day Saints. (SOUNDBITE)(English) LAMOND TULLIS, CHURCH OF LATTER DAY SAINTS HISTORIAN AND AUTHOR, SAYING: "The Romneys were in the first groups that came here to settle in this area. And they've always been very hardworking, very successful, and these are family traits which go from one generation to another and it's still true, and here in this area it's "try to keep up with the Romneys. Very successful and hard workers. They're known for their honesty and their hard work." Romney's tough stance on immigration, however, is apparently not so popular in a country that each year sends thousands of migrants to the U.S. in search of a better life. Brandon Romney, a chilli pepper farmer and distant cousin of Mitt, says he hopes Mitt Romney can instill pioneering spirit to the White House if he wins the presidential election. (SOUNDBITE)(English) BRANDON ROMNEY, DISTANT COUSIN OF MITT ROMNEY, SAYING: "Throughout the West and the smaller communities and some pioneer families that have a pioneer heritage throughout the West, be they Mormon or not Mormon, I think that gets passed down generation to generation, because it's you against the elements. You just have to have a certain toughness and work ethic to be able to prosper. So, I think that's been handed down to us and it's always a struggle to pass it on to the next generation and try to instill in them those values, get them to wake up and be responsible," he said. Before the Mexican Revolution, more than 4,000 Mormons were given refuge in Mexico .While Mitt Romney has never visited the area, his relatives believe his heritage is the key to his character. (SOUNDBITE)(English) BRANDON ROMNEY, DISTANT COUSIN OF MITT ROMNEY, SAYING: "There is a certain morality that goes with having to collaborate and build something from nothing. So, I think that is a lot of the legacy of the Eldiest (from the Mormon priesthood called Elders) church in the West and especially here. So hopefully Mitt Romney can portray that. I can't attest to his character or anything. Hopefully that's what he portrays." Romney has regained his frontrunner status in his bid to become the Republican nominee, and will face a key test on Tuesday when voters in 10 states go to the polls. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters