Thursday, 4:30 PM
Mrs. Romney raises her profile
By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff
As Mitt Romney runs for president, his wife Ann has been his constant but mostly silent partner.
But this week, Ann Romney delved into some of the most private and charged issues facing her husband’s campaign.
In an extensive and frank interview with ABC News, she described her battle with multiple sclerosis, saying her husband will forge ahead with his pursuit of the presidency, even if her health declines. She also said she wants him to give a speech directly addressing his relationship to the Mormon Church and disclosed that she did not want him to run for governor in 2002, when the couple was on a high after the successful Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
"It was just this euphoric feeling, and I did not want to step immediately into something that is so negative, with the campaign, after that," Ann Romney told Kate Snow during an interview that aired Wednesday on "Good Morning America."
She also said she was troubled by the prevalence of misperceptions about Mormons.
"There’s a lot that needs to be done to educate people about it and to have an understanding that basically we share the same values as probably most faiths."
The former Ann Davies met Mitt Romney at a party in 1965, when he was 18 and she was 15. Married in 1969, they have five sons and 10 grandchildren. On the campaign trail, he calls her "my sweetheart," and she is often by his side, as she was when he formally announced his bid for the White House in Michigan this week.
Ann Romney, 57, told Snow how her conversion to Mormonism grew out of questions she began asking Mitt Romney when they were dating.
She said she wants her husband to give a speech about Mormonism like the one John F. Kennedy gave about the Roman Catholic Church in 1960. A recent Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll indicated that 35 percent of Americans say they would not vote for a Mormon for president.
"We’ll see whether his staff and whether my husband comes to that same conclusion, and I’m actually anxious for that to happen," she said.
"Certainly, if people look at our heart and soul, they will understand that we’re in this race to make a difference and to help and that we share the values of most Americans."
Discussing multiple sclerosis, which she was diagnosed with in 1998, Ann Romney said she shares her husband’s opposition to embryonic stem cell research, even though some scientists believe it could lead to a cure for multiple sclerosis.
"Is my life more important than a child’s, another child’s life, and I see it as a life that they would be experimenting on."
Michael Levenson can be reached at email@example.com.