Romney's Everyman Veep Alternatives to Tim Pawlenty

Rebecca Kaplan
National Journal

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, in the running to be Mitt Romney’s vice president, isn’t the only Republican with a background quite unlike Romney’s upbringing in Michigan as the son of a car company executive and governor. If Romney is looking for a vice presidential partner who grew up blue-collar or even poor, here are a few prominent alternatives:

John Boehner. The speaker of the House once had to share a single bathroom with his two parents and 11 siblings in the family’s Cincinnati home (which also only had two bedrooms). He started work early, at age 8 – in the family bar. He continued working all the way through college (as a janitor to finance his night-school classes), becoming the first person in his family to attend college.

(RELATED: Pawlenty Auditions as Romney's Ambassador to Everyman)

Pat Toomey. The senator from Pennsylvania is the son of a part-time church secretary and a union worker for an electrical company. Toomey attended a private Catholic prep school on a scholarship before heading to Harvard University to pursue a bachelor's in government, paying for his degree with scholarships and part-time jobs.

Orrin Hatch. As the senator from Utah was growing up in Pittsburgh during the Depression, his father lost his job and the family had to live in a shelter made of salvaged wood and metal with no plumbing. Hatch worked his way through Brigham Young University as a janitor and metal lather before making it into law school and then a career in politics.

Paul LePage. The governor of Maine, a tea party favorite, survived a Dickensian childhood. He had 17 younger siblings and a father who beat him, so LePage left home at age 11 and lived on the streets of Lewiston, Maine – sleeping in a strip joint at times – and supported himself by shining shoes and cleaning horse stables. He kept performing menial labor like hauling boxes and washing dishes even after two families jointly adopted him. To get into college, he had to take the verbal section of the SAT in French since he grew up speaking the language in the “Little Canada” part of Lewiston.