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anne romney connecticut Ann Romney speaks at the 2012 Prescott Bush Awards Dinner in Stamford, Connecticut, on Monday, April 23. (Photo: Isabel Chenoweth)

Election 2012: The Private Side of Mitt Romney

Ann Romney addresses Connecticut Republicans

By Leila Sachner | April 24 , 2012

Voters following the 2012 primaries might think they know everything about the candidates left in the race. But on Monday, Ann Romney gave Connecticut Republicans a more personal view of her husband, Mitt Romney.

Ann Romney was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Prescott Bush Awards Dinner in Stamford, Connecticut. The Connecticut Republican Party hosted the event on the night before the state votes in its primary.

Romney was the first female keynote speaker in the 34-year history of the awards dinner.

Addressing a crowd of more than 800 people, Romney spoke highly of her husband as a great businessman and leader. But she also praised Mitt for being a wonderful husband and father of five boys. She told how he was always there for her when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1998 and with breast cancer in 2008.

Despite these health concerns, Romney said she fully supports her husband in his bid for the presidency.

"I felt so strongly about it because I believe in him," she said.

But before she fully committed she wanted to know one thing: Is it too late to turn the economy around? "And [Mitt] said, 'No, it's getting late, but it's not too late,'" Romney said. "That's all I need to know. If you can fix this, you must do this."

She said Mitt's ability to fix problems was demonstrated when he was Governor of Massachusetts. One example she gave was how he raised Massachusetts out of $3 billion in debt without borrowing money or raising taxes.

He also saved the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games when he took over leadership after a bribery scandal, she said.

At the time of the Olympics, Ann Romney had recently been diagnosed with MS and was having trouble walking. But unbeknownst to her, Mitt chose Ann to run the Olympic torch into Salt Lake City.

"What a moment that was with my children and husband surrounding me, with tears rolling down their faces, because they knew the long journey I had been on to be able to run with that torch," she remembered.

Romney was quick to add that Mitt looks out for other people, too.

Mitt is also active in their church, Ann said. And many nights, people have come into their home looking for guidance and counseling through hard times.

"People would come into the house, late at night, needing him, needing encouragement," Romney said. "I never knew why they came. Never once did Mitt ever tell me one thing about the things he was helping those people with and they had his complete trust."

Making Her Own Mark

Ann Romney's speech wasn't all about revealing the private side of her husband. She gave the crowd insight into herself, too.

On the campaign trail, Mitt will go into big groups of people and talk to them. But Ann often goes off to the side and talks to women.

Tears came to her eyes as she remembered the encounters.

"So many women tell me how much they care for me and how much they're praying for me," Romney said. "And I can't tell you how much I appreciate that because the days are long. The road is hard. The trials are there and I never know when I have this little gray cloud over my head, when it's going to start raining on me again and I do need everyone's prayers."

But in the end, she said, it will all be worth it if her husband becomes the next President. When she made clear that Mitt is in this race to win, the crowd burst into whistles and applause.

"[Ann Romney ]is an absolutely genuine person," declared Connecticut Republican Representative Gail Lavielle after the address. "And that's the most important thing that a politician can be. If all you see is a public face, and you don't know what's really underneath, you won't believe it."

ELECTION 2012

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