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"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner says the George Romney criticism early in the fifth season is based on actual events. One of the show's characters, Henry Francis, is a political operative working for New York City Mayor John Lindsay.
In a phone call, Francis vetoes the idea of Lindsay traveling to Michigan, "because Romney is a clown and I don't want him standing next to him."
The year is 1966.
"I pick up a "Newsweek" from that year, and George Romney is the frontrunner," says Weiner. "And Lindsay is someone who, as the Republican Jack Kennedy, they’re all trying to get an endorsement from. He’s trying to take pictures with all of the candidates who are about to run. And they’re trying to take pictures with him. And I know for a fact that there was a decision not to take a picture with George Romney, because he ... did not have the same political leanings as Lindsay."
Politics is a frequent guest on the hit show. In the first season, the Sterling Cooper employees contemplate taking on Richard Nixon, who is losing his bid for the White House to John F. Kennedy, as a client. The Henry Francis character made his debut in season three, as an advisor to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.
The episode aired during the 2012 presidential election, when Mitt Romney was the Republican candidate. George Romney is the father of Mitt Romney, and grandfather of Tagg Romney.
"Seriously, lib media mocking my dead grandpa?" Tagg Romney tweeted.
Weiner said the scene was not meant to be a personal attack, or a dig at Romney.
"I wanted to remind people that George Romney ran for office. And I just thought it was like this amazing thing, you know, just looking at the paper, and seeing that nothing had changed," said Weiner.
Weiner said he was sorry that Tagg Romney took it as a personal attack.
"But you know, we’re talking about a very public figure. And ... that’s the way it goes," added Weiner.
If you don't want to be made fun of 50 years later, said Weiner, don't run for office.
The "Mad Men" creator also says moderate Republicans should be "thrilled at the archaeology I have done on the Republican Party in this show."
"There’s a whole bunch of very interested, fair minded, non-prejudiced, economically interested do-gooders that disappeared from the Republican Party. And I’ve basically brought their names up," said Weiner.
Republican lawmakers in the 1960s supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a larger percentage than did Democrats. Lindsay, Rockefeller, and also Romney's support for civil rights was squarely in the mainstream of their party at the time.
"I’m not trying to like set up a paper tiger. I was fascinated by the fact that these people were so "liberal" at least in their interest in other human beings and civil rights," said Weiner.
Watch CNN Thursday, at 4pm ET to see our full story and interview with Matthew Weiner of "Mad Men."
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The Lead with Jake Tapper draws not only on Tapper’s deep knowledge of politics and national issues, but also seeks to examine and advance stories across a wide range of topics that demonstrate his own curiosities and interests. Compelling headlines come from around the country and the globe, from politics to money, sports to popular culture, based on news drivers of the day.
The Lead with Jake Tapper airs weekdays at 4 p.m. ET.
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