Ann Romney campaigns for husband in N.H.

Ann Romney holds Sam Beatonafter in Stratham, N.H., on June 2, the day her husband, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, formally announced his second White House campaign.
Ann Romney holds Sam Beatonafter in Stratham, N.H., on June 2, the day her husband, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, formally announced his second White House campaign. –Jim Cole/AP

LACONIA, N.H – Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, took a break from her vacation at the family’s summer home on Lake Winnipesaukee today to speak to 20 voters at a house party in Laconia.

“I left 16 grandchildren at home this morning and a couple of them wanted to know why I was dressed this way, how come they weren’t going on the boat, going swimming with me,’’ Romney said, wearing a blue-and-white dress.

Her husband doubled-up on the effort, stumping in the battleground state of Ohio today.

As they did during the 2008 presidential campaign, and during their four years as first family of Massachusetts, the Romneys have projected a wholesome family image.

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They have talked about being high school sweethearts and highlighted their 42-year marriage. Now 62, Ann Romney stayed home to raise her five sons, all of whom are now married.

While she has largely travelled with her husband, this month she started to develop her own schedule. Romney stumped in South Carolina last week, is attending house parties today and tomorrow in New Hampshire, and plans to spend more time here in August, said Susan Duprey, a New Hampshire attorney and campaign veteran who is a traveling companion.

Romney said she sees herself as a representative of her husband, helping to “round out the image’’ of who he is.

Her job, Ann Romney said, is “for people to see what an extraordinary president he might be on a level where they can trust him, on an interpersonal level, recognizing he has characteristics as a family man and a successful business man.’’

In a short speech, Romney praised her husband as a man “who knows how to do a turnaround’’ of both businesses and of the country. Just as Mitt Romney does on the campaign trail, she talked about his background as a businessman, about his work turning around troubled companies and starting Bain Capital. He also served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.

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But she also focused on his commitment to his family.

“He’d remind me always that no other success can compensate for failure in the home,’’ Romney said. “Where his joy came from was his family.’’

Referring to her work raising her children, Romney her husband would tell her that “more important than my job is what you’re doing.’’

Romney, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, has never been shy about talking about her disease, which she was diagnosed with in 1998.

She spoke today about struggling with her health while her husband helped run the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City – and about the joy of being strong enough to carry the Olympic torch after her husband chose her for the honor, naming her as his “personal hero.’’

Beverly Bruce, a consultant from Tuftonboro who plans to host a fund-raiser for Mitt Romney at the end of August, said she has seen the Romneys together, and they are so close that they finish each other’s sentences.

“She has intellect, passion, really cares what happens to the country,’’ Bruce said.

Several attendees said they were impressed with Ann Romney, whether or not they were supporting her husband.

“She’s a breath of fresh air,’’ said Bob Nelson, a retiree who travels between New Hampshire and Florida. “She’s a family person.’’

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