Conversation With Ann Romney, Wife of Republican Presidential Contender Mitt Romney

ByABC News
February 14, 2007, 2:18 PM

Feb. 14, 2007 — -- Ann Romney is a mother of five, grandmother to ten and the wife of Republican presidential contender and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Ann Romney was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, but she insists that she's "totally onboard" with her husband's bid for the White House.

The aspiring first lady sat down with ABC News' Kate Snow, just a day after her husband entered the race. What follows are extended excerpts of their conversation.

Romney on the Run

Snow: Are you ready for this?

Romney: I don't think so! (Laughs) No, I don't think we can anticipate what it's going to be like. Just sort of like, we've walked through a door, and we'll see what happens.

Snow: And you are fully onboard with it?

Romney: Totally onboard with it.

Snow: Because I know when he wanted to run, run for governor.

Romney: I was not onboard with that. I was not onboard with that.

Snow: But this time's different?

Romney: Yeah, I think this time is different, because when the governor's race came, it was, we had just finished the most extraordinary experience at the Salt Lake Winter games, the Winter Olympics, and it was such a high, and everyone was pulling the wagon the same direction. We were all so thrilled, it was great, the world was there, they were successful, 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. I wanted to take a breath, I wanted to enjoy what we'd done.

Romney: in the Race "No Matter What"

Snow: How are you feeling?

Romney: This is another reason I'm willing to go through this, I'm feeling well. I am, my health is good.

Snow: How is it so good? I mean, it seemed almost like you, there's some strange magical secret that you've got that you've been able to hold it.

Romney: (Laughs) No, it's, it's been a process. I have MS, as I'm sure that, I don't know what my intro has been, but I do struggle with the disease, and right now, I feel completely healthy, and wonderful, and a lot of energy, and I feel blessed. And, but I, but I was very, very sick. A number of years ago, in 1998, '99, 2000, 2001, all those years, I was very --

Snow: A long time.

Romney: Very, sick.

Snow: You could hardly lift a piece of paper.

Romney: No, I was, I was at points, there were times in my life where I was so weakened by it, and so sick, and so fatigued, that I couldn't function normally at all, and honestly thought that was the way the rest of my life was going to be, so I do feel blessed, and I do feel strong and healthy, and I, I've done a number of different things to make myself healthy, and I also feel like I'm blessed on top of it, so I don't know, it's hard to know what I do, and you know, what, what makes it work for me. I also love horses.

Snow: You do a lot of riding.

Romney: I ride, I try to ride every day. This is going to maybe get, crimp into that style a little bit, but the horses bring me, again, just like my grandchildren, absolutely, just extraordinary joy. I love to ride.

Snow: And you do, just to make sure I'm right on this, you do some holistic things as well?

Romney: I do.

Snow: You do yoga?

Romney: I do holistic things, yoga and pilates. Reflexology, acupuncture. I, I'm very, very conscious of not eating a lot of sugar, and white flours, and I mean, I really try to just stay as healthy as I can.

Snow: Your son Tag said that your illness is one of the biggest challenges for the family. And he said to us recently, it's just seeing her and loving her so much and not wanting to see her go through difficult times, that's a struggle.

Romney: That's, I have to say that when you go through a trial like this, it is your family that rallies around you that allows you to be able to go through it. It was tough, and I have to say, I was not an example of strength and courage when I was going through it. I was pretty frightened. And when you really get down, I, I felt like I was completely crushed. Um, crushed, and it was, it was a scary thing, because I, in so many ways, it changed me. Um, I felt so, before I had the disease, just on top of things, and, energetic, and I could handle everything, and I did, I managed so much of our life, and all of the things that go on, as a mother, and all those things that you do, and I thought I was doing it just, very, sort of, in a strange kind of way, a kind of pride in everything that I did so well, and then all of a sudden, it was all taken away, and I could do nothing. And then you're left with who am I? And why did I have to, why is the rest of my life going to be so miserable, and why, you know, feeling pretty sorry for myself.

Um, and so not only did I, have I changed physically, I feel like I've changed from the inside as well. And this sense of, of stripping away all the pride and looking really at your core, and saying what's left (laughs) is only inside your heart, and then going from there, and for me, my husband was there for me when I really was at my lowest point. But it's changed me in another way, too. And that is that I look at everyone differently now. And I look at everything in life differently. Um, I take great joy in small things. Um, I look at everyone and recognize and, and I call it the bag of rocks. I see everyone, if you live long enough, has trouble of one kind or another. For me, it was physical, and with health.

For other people, it can be death, illness, divorce, depression, so many things, and struggles that we go through in life, and if you were to look at me, you would not see that there is anything wrong, but you don't know that I, behind my back I'm carrying my bag of rocks. And now, I look at everyone and think, they've got their own bag of rocks. I can't see them, or what they're carrying, and the burdens they're carrying, it's just made me a little bit more compassionate, and a little bit more, a little, I hope, less judgmental, and I, I also hope that it's um, the other day, I look at people and I say, most people are doing the best they can, and we don't understand or recognize where they're coming from. But I think more people struggle than we, than we know.