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Ann Romney: Mitt Has Always Been Pro-Life

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 9 months ago

Ann Romney: Mitt Has Always Been Pro-Life


By: Ronald Kessler


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

When he picked up Ann Davies for their first date, Mitt Romney left nothing to chance. He arrived in a red Marlin, a new fastback model made by his father's American Motors Co. Mitt had cleaned and polished the car until it gleamed. He brought along a bottle of sparkling Catawba grape juice and two chilled glasses.


Mitt took Ann, then 15, to see "The Sound of Music."


More than four decades later, the Romney's five sons call Ann Romney "the great Mitt stabilizer."


"She helps ground him, helps provide him perspective," says Taggart Romney, the couple's oldest son.


Beth Myers, Romney's presidential campaign manager and former chief of staff when he was governor of Massachusetts, has watched the two interact since she began working for him in 2003.


"Ann is Mitt's life partner and is probably his closest and most trusted adviser," Myers says. "They talk about everything all the time, and her counsel is the counsel that he values most."


Whether the issue is running for the presidency or taking over the Winter Olympics, "I weigh in so heavily, and he listens to my advice probably more than anyone else's," Ann agrees. "We never sort of go off on our own, either one of us, without feeling like we're going together on whatever journey that we're on."




Ann is warm and very natural. She has the look of an outdoors woman bred to be an equestrian, which she is - good carriage, rosy complexion, square jaw, and blond mane.


When she is not flashing her truly unbelievable smile, she may lower her eyes demurely. But Ann Romney is not demure - she may be modest, but she isn't meek. She is unpretentious, but she isn't shy. She lowers her eyes, thinking, and then looks up directly at her interviewer and dazzles him with that smile.




Mitt first met the beautiful daughter of the mayor of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., at a party given by classmate Cindy White. It was March 21, 1965, just before Ann's 16th birthday. She was a sophomore at the Kingswood, a private school for girls. He was a senior at Cranbrook, its affiliated all-boy school.


The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were playing on 45 rpm records. Mitt saw her across the room. He remembered that when he was a Cub Scout in elementary school, he and some other scouts saw Ann riding a horse bareback across a railroad track.


"What do Cub Scouts do when they see a little girl on a horse?" Mitt says now. "We picked up stones and threw them at her."


Years later, at Cindy White's party, Mitt thought, "Wow, has she changed!"


He remembers that Ann came to the party with a date. She states that she had no date and probably came with her brother. In any case, Mitt told her that he lived near her - about a mile away - and offered to take her home in his Marlin. She accepted.




When Mitt started to show an interest in her, she says, "I was very aloof." "Whatever it was that I did, it really set the hooks deep, because they're still there. I was being very cautious because he'd broken a bunch of my friends' hearts, and I wasn't going to let him do that to me. Whatever I did, it worked."


Mitt helped plan her 16th birthday party, where they danced for the first time. By then, they were officially dating. At his senior prom, Mitt told Ann he wanted to marry her. She agreed - sort of.


Mitt went off to Stanford. He got a job as a chauffeur for the physics department at Stanford so he would have enough money to fly home and see her. He didn't tell his parents.


"They wanted him focusing on his studies and not having a job in college, but he did it anyway," Ann says.




After his freshman year, Mitt left for France to begin a two-and-a-half year stint as a Mormon missionary, just as his father, and his father's close friend J. Willard Marriott, had done.


"At that point, he was the only Mormon I'd ever met," says Ann, who was an Episcopalian. "I went to church about once or twice a year myself, and when he left, I started looking into the Mormon church, independently of him. Mitt's father would pick me up every Sunday to go to church with him."


Ann converted to Mormonism and decided to attend Brigham Young University, which is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the official name of the church, in Provo, Utah.


Ann wrote letters to Mitt at least once a week.




At the end of December 1968, when Mitt's missionary work was over, Ann was with Mitt's parents when they picked him up at the airport in Detroit.


"The second we saw each other, it was one of those remarkable, remarkable moments, that's just crystallized in my mind forever," Ann says. "It was as though two and a half years had just dissolved, and we were back exactly where we were when he left. The feelings that we had for each other just came back instantly."


By the time they arrived back in Bloomfield Hills, they had decided they were getting married in two weeks.




By the time they married, Ann was 19 and he was 22.


Mitt transferred to Brigham Young to be with Ann. They lived in a basement apartment with a concrete floor. Instead of buying milk at a nearby store, Mitt insisted on driving to a creamery where it was cheaper. Instead of buying an ice cream or popcorn at a movie theater, he would save money by eating ice cream and popping corn at home before the movie.


After graduating, Mitt decided to go to Harvard School of Business Administration, but his father thought he should obtain a law degree, so he enrolled in a joint program at Harvard Law School. In 1975, he graduated from Harvard Law cum laude and from Harvard Business School, where he was named a Baker Scholar and was in the top 5 percent of his class.


When they were in college, they had their first son, Tagg. Until recently, he worked for the Dodgers in Los Angeles as chief marketing officer. He now works for his father's campaign as a senior adviser. Then came Josh, now a real estate developer who formed Romney Ventures in Utah. Next was Matthew, a vice president at Excel Realty Holdings, a San Diego real estate holdings company. Their fourth son, Ben, is in his third year at Tufts Medical School. Finally, Craig is a music producer at McGarryBowen, an advertising agency in New York. Each of the sons looks as if he stepped out of a Gap ad.


Along the way, Mitt founded Bain Capital, a venture capital firm that now has assets of $40 billion. In evaluating whether to invest in a company, Romney would play devil's advocate to flush out facts.




For all their happiness and success, just before Thanksgiving 1998 Ann learned that she had multiple sclerosis. She was weak, and the left side of her body was numb.


"As sick as I was, I would have just as soon had cancer and died," she says. "I was like, 'Would someone please give me a different diagnosis?' because I didn't know how I was going to live with this."


The Romneys have a home in Deer Valley near Park City, Utah, where they go skiing. Ann found Fritz Bleitshau, a Utah reflexologist who uses alternative medicine to rebuild strength. He prescribed homeopathic cures, including acupuncture, deep breathing exercises, and yoga. In addition, Ann rode her bay gelding Baron every day.


"He is the one that pulled me through when I was really sick," she says. "He's the one that just let me plod around on him when I was so weak. And then as I got stronger, I'd ride him more, and he got stronger, and so the two of us kind of got stronger together. For a horse to show at the Grand Prix level, they have to be very, very fit and very strong, as does the rider. And so last year it was quite a feat for both of us to have done that together."


That was when Ann won the Gold Medal at the Grand Prix level from the U.S. Dressage Federation. Today, Ann Romney has most of her stamina back.


At first, Ann was against the idea of Mitt running for governor of Massachusetts. Mitt had just spent about three years running the Olympics in Salt Lake City.


"I thought, you know Mitt, you don't even get a day off and you're going to jump into a fire," she says. "Having run in Massachusetts before for the Senate, he knew what a negative experience it could be. And my assessment was it would have been very low odds that he would win the governor's race."


Their son Josh, a Harvard Business School graduate like Tagg and Matt, said, "The door's open for him to go through this. And even though this seems like a high risk, and it might not turn out how you think it should, you will wonder your entire life if he should've gone through that door."


"I looked at Josh and I said, 'Oh, darn it, you're right,'" Ann says. "That's the only argument that wins it for me."


Before Mitt was elected governor in 2002, Ann was helping the United Way of Massachusetts Bay. She became interested in how African-American churches use faith-based programs to get kids who are at risk back on track. With that as a model, she became a co-founder of the United Way's Faith and Action Program, which introduces kids who have been abused or are taking drugs or engaging in other high-risk behavior to faith.


"That's been a big thing to me, for them to recognize that God loves them," Ann says. "No matter who they are, where they are and what they're doing, that God loves them. A lot of other people might have given up on them, but they ought to know that God never gives up on them. That's why I've worked so much with the faith-based groups."


"Ann was really pivotal in helping to shape the vision for that project," says Gloria White Hammond, the other co-founder of the program.


Mitt and Ann also helped out with contributions from their Romney Charitable Foundation, which has $8 million in assets. The Romneys have contributed millions to the Mormon church, Brigham Young University, and causes like the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.


Besides starting the United Way program, Ann served as a director of Families First Planning Program and the Massachusetts General Hospital Advisory Board. She also served as the governor's liaison to the faith-based initiative started by President Bush.




"Teen pregnancy prevention would be high on my list of things I'd be concerned about as first lady," Ann says. "Having fathers involved in children's lives, especially in the inner city would be something I'd be concerned about."


Ann says a conversation with a friendly senator first got Mitt seriously thinking about running for president.




Mitt made the final decision last Christmas after discussing it with Ann, their five sons, and their five wives. He formed an exploratory committee the same week he left office as governor in January.


"We weighed the pros and the cons, and Mitt got out his yellow legal pad, and he wrote down on one column the pros and the other side the cons," Ann says. "But to a person, every single child said, 'Yes, it's going to be difficult. Yes, we understand all the problems. But it's worth going through.'"


With the exception of Ben, who is doing his sub-internship at hospitals, each of the sons is heavily involved in the campaign, helping to raise funds.


Sometimes, Ann notices that Mitt has stolen her lines. In one talk, she referred to the fact that everyone carries "their own bag of rocks," meaning everyone has personal problems or has family members with personal problems. She cites her own life-changing experience with MS.


"I heard him talk the other day about how people have a bag of rocks," Ann says. "I looked at him and went, 'Wait a minute! That's my line!' And he goes, 'Well, it's a good line.'"


Mitt also adopted Ann's description of what Washington is like. He talks of Republicans and Democrats in a rowboat that is about to go over a waterfall. Instead of rowing together, they are hitting each other over the head with their oars.


"That's how I see the dangers we're facing in this country right now, and the absolute urgency for us to face some of the issues, like entitlement reform," Ann says.


"Mitt is running because he sees a trend that will happen to this country if we elect a Hillary Clinton or a Barack Obama," Ann says.




"It's a match made in heaven between Mitt and Ann," says Fraser Bullock, who was one of the seven partners who started Bain Capital with Romney and later served as chief operating officer of the Winter Olympics. "They go along so well together, they're very like-minded. Ann is incredibly wise and perceptive in her own right."


A reporter once asked Ann in a telephone interview to name her weaknesses. She was searching for an answer as Mitt walked into the room.


"Sweetheart, he wants to know what my weakness is . . ." she said to him.


"Mitt says my weakness is him," she told the reporter.


Ann might have added to that "The Sound of Music," which is still their favorite movie.


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