Almost every time he speaks in public now, Gay Mitchell recalls his deprived childhood in the gritty Dublin suburb of Inchicore.
Critics say he has started to sound like a broken record. Some in his inner circle fear his constant Frank McCourt-style recollections are becoming a turn-off for the electorate and played a role in his disastrous rating in this week's poll.
Since his presidential campaign began, the Fine Gael candidate has told the story of his mother's early widowhood time and again, and how she was left on her own to rear nine children at the age of 49.
His father died when he was five, and she went out to work cleaning offices at four in the morning so she could be home in time to get Gay and his siblings up for school.
Material perks were slim on the ground. Family and education were the cornerstones of daily life and the driving force that would lead him to a better future.
As a young man, he got a job building buses in the nearby CIE works and became a leader in his local youth club. In the 1960s, few on the terraced street where he grew up had any prospect of going to university, but Gay was determined to get a degree and went on to Queen's in Belfast, where he studied politics and went on to become an accountant.
So Gay Mitchell has every reason to be proud of how he overcame the disadvantages of his youth and made a huge success of his life.
His cousin, brought up at the same time in similar circumstances, took another route ...
Just a couple of miles away from Gay's first home in Inchicore, where the Grand Canal forms a watery oasis in a wasteland of grim council estates riddled by poverty, the cousin was forging a very different life for himself. In the working class suburb of Drimnagh, one Mitchell name is synonymous with brutal criminality, and the waste and destruction of countless young lives from drugs.
Born within a couple of years of Gay, George 'The Penguin' Mitchell shared a similar upbringing marked by hardship and adversity.
Their fathers were brothers. He started adult life as a truck driver for Jacobs Biscuits, but before long got involved in crime, taking part in a number of robberies with associates of the General, Martin Cahill.
Cahill was impressed by his loyalty to the underworld -- Mitchell had a reputation for keeping his lips sealed when he and his cronies came to the attention of the gardai, a quality the gang lord admired and rewarded him for.
In the 1980s, when Gay Mitchell was first elected to the Dail as a TD for Dublin South Central and his older brother Jim was serving as Justice Minister in Garret FitzGerald's government, their career criminal relative was carrying out his first major robberies.
In 1988, he was convicted of stealing a major consignment of cattle drench and sent to prison for five years. There, he nurtured his links to the underworld, and saw the vast amounts that could be made on drug dealing. On his release, he decided to carve out a lucrative slice of the market for himself and, within a matter of years, he had become Ireland's biggest drug baron from his base in west Dublin.
In the mid-1990s, shortly after the presidential hopeful had served as Lord Mayor of Dublin and was celebrating his first junior ministry in charge of European Affairs, George Mitchell was building up a massive ecstasy processing plant. He had been arrested by British police near Luton in possession of £575,000 cash, a down payment for a shipment of drugs. The money was seized but Mitchell was released without charge.
He continued his sordid trade back in Ireland, living a jet-set lifestyle with a luxurious house in Palmerstown, flashy bulletproof cars and assets in the region of €10m.
When the Criminal Assets Bureau came into being in 1996, following the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, The Penguin began to feel the heat. More than a decade ago he fled to Amsterdam, where he continues to operate his massive drug empire.
Notoriously paranoid, he is thought to be livid about his cousin's run for the presidency, angry at the publicity it is drawing on him and what he has been up to since he left the State.
Gay Mitchell, whose family disown the criminal, hates the link, firing into a rage when the connection was raised on a recent radio interview.
"I am the first cousin of an ambassador," he claimed.
"I am the first cousin of people who have been involved in security forces of the State. I have cousins who play international rugby for Ireland, none of them have anything to do with me."
It's an attitude echoed on the streets of Inchicore this week.
"The thing about coming from a place like Inchicore is that any one of your family could be involved in drugs or crime," said one resident of Ring Street, which is home to the red-brick semi-detached house where Gay grew up.
"It's not exactly Dublin 4. Anyway, none of us can choose our relations.
"To tell you the truth, that's the least of our worries with Gay. We'd love to have a local boy in the Áras but he's not exactly lighting up our screens at the moment.
"A lot of us are cringeing watching him, especially when he starts going on about his childhood hardships. Things are bleak enough at the moment as it is."