Mitt and Ann

  1. Ψ Share

    Ann Romney   Mitt Romney's wife.

    Born Ann Davies, she met Mitt Romney in high school and the couple married in 1969, three months after Mitt returned from being a missionary in France. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Sept. 11, 2012.

    Let's start at the very beginning. You have what many have referred to as a storybook romance. So take me back to the very beginning and tell me how you first met.

    We met in high school. I was a sophomore and Mitt was a senior. We went to a party together, and we just saw each other, and it was sort of sparks flew. He took me home that night, and then we started dating. And it really was love at first sight, if you want to say it. Or we really did fall madly in love.

    You know, my parents had no idea, nor did his, that we -- they just assumed it was just a normal high school romance. But we knew that it was something more, and a little more special than that. And we just didn't really share that with anyone, either with our friends or our parents or anyone, because knowing how young we were, that no one would take us very seriously.

  2. Ψ Share

    Dane McBride   Friend, fellow missionary

    A Virginia physician, McBride has been friends with Mitt Romney for more than 40 years. The two met in 1966 while serving as Mormon missionaries in France. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on July 13, 2012.

    During that period of time he got another sort of kick in the gut. He receives a letter from his dear Ann. So tell me about that.

    It was probably when we were in Paris together, and Ann had gone to Brigham Young University as a young, pretty freshman and apparently caught the eye of the student body president, who was a very sharp fellow. He had importuned a few times, and finally she did go out on a date with him. And she wrote to Mitt and said she'd gone out on a date with him. And actually she'd gone on a second date with him.

    And Mitt was just really disturbed by this. I mean, he was so deeply in love with Ann, the possibility, the prospect of losing her -- I have to say that in the culture of Mormon missionaries, "Dear Johns" are very, very common. I'm told there's only about 4 percent of those who started out together end up together, that the girls say after two years, two and a half years especially as we were there, it's a long time to wait. And so most don't. And everybody's the better off for it, I suppose.

    But the prospect of losing Ann was just devastating to Mitt. About the only time I've ever seen him -- again, this was during this time of leadership that was going on, and the training and so on -- during that few weeks there he was kind of going through the motions. You could tell his heart was not altogether there. And he was trying to do it, but then you'd see him just in tears at times as he'd get a letter. "What am I going to do? What am I going to do? There's nothing I can do."

    And I think that's what was interesting, is when he was -- Mitt is a doer. He's a problem solver, and there was not a thing in the world he could do about it, and that was a great frustration to him.

    Then one day this wonderful letter came: "Mitt, you're the guy. You're the guy I want to be with for all eternity." The lights came back on, and with renewed vigor things went forward again. ...

  3. Ψ Share

    Ann Romney   Mitt Romney's wife.

    Born Ann Davies, she met Mitt Romney in high school and the couple married in 1969, three months after Mitt returned from being a missionary in France. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Sept. 11, 2012.

    There are great stories about he had been gone for two years, you had scared him with some Dear John letter. Then talk to me about your emotions, waiting for him at the airport and then that ride home, and what you promised to each other.

    For someone as young as I was -- I mean, he was gone for a year at Stanford, two and a half years [in France]. He was gone three and a half years. And I was so young. And after three and a half years, I started wondering, how was I going to feel? Or how do I really even still feel? I don't know. I hadn't seen him or been with him for such a long time.

    And I was excited. I was nervous. I had butterflies in my stomach as I knew he was coming off the airplane. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. It was funny when he came off the plane, because there were a lot of people there. My parents were there. His parents were there. His sisters, his brother. My brothers were there. His nieces and nephews. It was just a whole lot of us meeting him at the airport.

    But he only had eyes for me. He made a beeline past his mother, which really was an upsetting thing for her, and just grabbed me. And it was amazing, an amazing thing that happened. It's as though all time dissolved, and we were right back exactly where we were when he left. It was just such an extraordinary thing that happened, because I had no idea how I was going to feel. I was a little ambivalent going to the airport, not sure how I felt.

    And in the car ride home, all the boisterous noise in the front -- and we were three-passenger, you know, one of those three-seated station wagons. And we were in the back seat facing out. And it was just the two of us in the back seat. And it was such an amazing car ride home, because we both said: "We've waited so long. Why should we wait any longer? Let's just get married now, like now." (Laughs.) And it was a bit of a shock to everyone. They didn't -- anyone -- quite think that was a great idea, including my parents. But that's how we felt. It was really kind of amazing.

  4. Ψ Share

    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    When did you first hear the name Ann Davies?

    I came back from England when I was in my 20s, and he was already started dating her, so that's when I heard of her. And I would go with them a lot of times doing things. They would go swimming or playing games or doing other things, and they had a very special relationship.

    ... I thought it would last from the beginning because of the way they just interacted so well and they were so compatible. And they liked everything that they did together. And who wouldn't like him? He was a lot of fun. And who wouldn't like her? She was a lot of fun and beautiful as well. So it was a great match. ...

  5. Ψ Share
    Related topics:
    Mormonism

    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    Tell me about their wedding, what that experience was like.

    They were married in Ann's home. It was just a wonderful wedding. ... Then the next day they went to our temple in Salt Lake City and had it sealed there, because we believe marriages can be forever.

    ... Talk to me about the significance of that sealing.

    We believe that everybody has the chance to be sealed to their families forever, so by being married in the temple, they have the chance of being together with their family in the eternity. ...

    Ann converted to Mormonism, and your father, as I understand, he really helped teach her and guide her as well. Talk to me about the bond they formed during that.

    While Mitt was gone for two and a half years, my dad would take Ann to church. And he did that because he liked Mitt so much, and he knew Mitt really cared about her. When he left on his mission, he was in love with his bride, and when he came back she was still there. Usually the girls are not there when they come back; they found somebody else.

    So [my father] was very devoted to Mitt and trying to see if that was a possibility. And he liked [Ann] an enormous amount. He had a special affection and devotion to her and thought she was a terrific, marvelous person, so he spent a lot of time taking her to church and doing other things because he cared for her so much as well. ...

  6. Ψ Share

    Scott Romney   Mitt Romney's older brother

    (Text only) Six years older than Mitt Romney, Scott Romney is a fundraiser for his younger brother. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on August 9, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    Talk to me about the role that Ann plays in your brother's life. ...

    First of all, they have a love affair, so that's probably the most important single thing. And she supports him and views him as somebody that really can make a difference in all of the areas.

    But they're a team. Ann has her own advice and own thoughts and certainly expresses that. I've heard her tell Mitt: "You debated on this issue a little too hard. This fellow might not understand that you're just challenging him as a devil's advocate rather than really believing what it is that you were challenging him on."

    So she's very much involved in shaping how he conducts himself and what he thinks about. But she views him as a great leader and somebody that really is unusual in being able to accomplish things.

  7. Ψ Share

    Tagg Romney   Eldest son

    Tagg Romney is the oldest of Mitt Romney's five children. Here he discusses what Mitt and Ann are like as parents, as well as lessons his father learned running the Olympics, serving as a governor, and losing his bid for the White House in 2008.This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Aug. 7, 2012.

    I want to talk about your parents -- your mother, your father and their relationship first, because by all accounts they have sort of an incredible, storybook romance and love story. But in terms of the perspective of the son, what role does your mother play in your father's life? 

    She is everything to him. They fell in love very early, and they've stayed in love -- it's interesting to watch them -- they've stayed in love throughout their entire lives. And they're always doing things for each other, paying each compliments. And she just -- she makes him happy to be around her.

    So he likes to have her with him wherever he goes, and he's in a better mood when she's around. We call her the "Mitt stabilizer," because if he's on the road for too long without her, he starts to get antsy and worried about little things, and things start to bother him. And if she's back with him, he calms down and is a lot less irritable.

    And was that consistent throughout your childhood? Was she always sort of that role?

    Yeah. I mean, he just loves to be with her. He loves to be with his family. That's one of his favorite things to do is spend time with his family, but especially my mom. It got him home earlier from work than it probably would have been otherwise because he liked to spend time with her. They enjoy each other.

    It's funny watching them. They have a good time talking. You'd think after 42, 43 years of marriage they'd run out of things to say to each other, but they're always talking and going on walks and doing things together. They just enjoy each other's company.

  8. Ψ Share

    Tagg Romney   Eldest son

    Tagg Romney is the oldest of Mitt Romney's five children. Here he discusses what Mitt and Ann are like as parents, as well as lessons his father learned running the Olympics, serving as a governor, and losing his bid for the White House in 2008.This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Aug. 7, 2012.

    Some people have said it's sort of too good to be true. They sort of paint it as the perfect -- but it does really sound like behind the scenes there is this authentic love between father and son. And you talked about what his father wanted in terms of family to be the most important. Just explain to me -- put your father in that role, and tell me what he taught you boys about that, and as you were kids how those lessons played out.

    There were no specific words that he taught us. It was just the way he lived his life. We saw that we were the most important thing to him. And we learned as a result of those things. I think you learn a lot better by example than you do by lecture. And his example told us that he loved us and that we were the most important thing. And so I think, hopefully all five of the sons now try to treat our families the same way, which is we put our families first. And it's important to us.

    And so many experiences growing up -- I remember one time, we lived on a busy street, and my dad wanted to put a fence up to help keep the noise down, and he got some contractors to make some bids on them. And the bids were a lot higher than he thought that they probably should have been, so he decided he was going to build that fence -- by the way, he'd worked on a ranch, so he knew how to build fences.

    But rather than doing it himself, he decided to enlist the help of his five sons and his wife. And we spent the next six Saturdays -- and I'm sure he could have been a lot faster without all of us little guys out there helping -- but he taught us how to dig the fence posts and how to mix the concrete in the wheelbarrow and pour it in, and tap the fencepost in the concrete. We built that fence. It was a fun -- I didn't think it was fun as a teenager, but I look back at it now, and I'm glad we did it, because it was time we were able to spend together.

    And he believed in hard work. He believed in ingenuity. He believed in spending time together as a family. And doing things, projects like that together growing up, it was a time for us to work together and to be together, and we knew we were important to him.

  9. Ψ Share

    Tagg Romney   Eldest son

    Tagg Romney is the oldest of Mitt Romney's five children. Here he discusses what Mitt and Ann are like as parents, as well as lessons his father learned running the Olympics, serving as a governor, and losing his bid for the White House in 2008.This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Aug. 7, 2012.

    And talk to me about the importance of that family time. We've heard about family night. Give me some examples of the way the family -- it's very comforting and inspiring to see your family all together and how people actually enjoy spending time with one another. As kids, give me an example of what those family experiences were like together.

    You know, he had a job that required him to be gone a lot, but he always worked very hard to get home. He tried to be home in time for dinner; he was usually a little bit late. But he would eat dinner. We would sit around and talk with him while he ate his dinner after we'd eaten ours. And we would go out and play basketball together.

    When he came home, he put everything behind him. He didn't think about work. He didn't talk about work. If he had a bad day or good day, we couldn't tell the difference. He was there, and he played with us. And we thought we were the most important thing in his life to him. And we still do.

    Even with the campaign going on around him, he makes time every Sunday to call us. He calls each of the sons on Sundays, spends 20 or 30 minutes with us. He asks about all of our kids and how we're doing and what our concerns are. It's like, "Yeah, but, Dad, you've got this other thing going on; you should be worrying about it."

    He really likes to surround himself with his family. There's no question that that's his favorite thing to do, is to spend time with my mom and his kids and now his grandkids.

    And so, growing up, we just, we always knew that was the most important thing to him.

  10. Ψ Share

    Ann Romney   Mitt Romney's wife.

    Born Ann Davies, she met Mitt Romney in high school and the couple married in 1969, three months after Mitt returned from being a missionary in France. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Sept. 11, 2012.

    I want to take you to the story that you've told many, many times. But talk to me about when you received your diagnosis and how you received the news and what that experience was like for you.

    Getting the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in some ways was almost a relief, because it was an answer to what was wrong with me, because I knew there was something seriously wrong with me. And yet at the same time, you knew that it was sort of a statement that this was something I was going to have to live with for a long time, and this wasn't going to go away.

    So the enormity of having to deal with an illness that is part of your life was a very difficult thing for me and for Mitt. I went into an interesting place, because it was as though everything and every way I defined myself was taken away from me. And when you're left and stripped of everything that you sort of do and think, "Well, that's who I am; it's things that I do," you're left with something that you wonder who you really are.

    And it was wonderful to have Mitt so supportive of me during that time, because he would remind me, all the time: "You're OK. We're OK together. We'll do this. And I don't love you because of the things that you do. I love you for who you are." He was just so dear during that time. The diagnosis, of course, was difficult. And we both cried. But he was so good to me.

    And I was very fatigued. I was in bed a lot, really in bed most of the time. I just couldn't really take care of myself, even. And Mitt was so good. He would literally just crawl into bed with me in the day and just comfort me and just say: "You're OK. Just stay where you are. We're OK. Don't worry."

    He gave me permission to be sick and to start working through how for me to deal with this illness. And I know everyone responds differently, and everyone has their difficulties with the disease, but I was progressing very quickly.

  11. Ψ Share
    Related topics:
    The Loss to Kennedy

    Ann Romney   Mitt Romney's wife.

    Born Ann Davies, she met Mitt Romney in high school and the couple married in 1969, three months after Mitt returned from being a missionary in France. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Sept. 11, 2012.

    So let's jump to politics for a minute. We've heard that you've been sort of pivotal in giving your husband that little extra push. So let's start with 1994. Tell me about the conversation about whether or not to run against Sen. [Ted] Kennedy, and why you encouraged him to take that leap.

    I think it was sort of a unanimous decision at that point, is that, you know, Mitt's father was involved in politics. And Mitt was frustrated with some of the positions that Sen. Kennedy had taken. I finally said, "Why don't you just run?" I don't think it was something that we talked about much or even thought about seriously.

    And we certainly, you know, living in Massachusetts, it wasn't like, you know, we've got this plan for our life. It wasn't that at all, because we knew what an uphill battle it would be. And it was just a matter of just saying, "Step forward, and just go forward and do." We certainly knew how long the odds were of defeating a Kennedy in Massachusetts. And we weren't surprised when we didn't win that race.

    But it was just a way for us, again, to get involved and to do things. I know so much of our lives had been involved with helping others and reaching out to doing other things, and I think Mitt saw politics as just another avenue to extend the way that we really lived our lives and cared for others and looked out for others.

    How hard was that loss on him? Some people said it was sort of one of the first big things that he had lost in his life.

    I think people would be surprised that Mitt doesn't measure his success by a political win or a political loss. We measure success by how we've done with our marriage and how we've done with our children. Those are the things that we measure our personal success by.

    It's hard when you go through a loss, but it wasn't devastating. And we moved on very, very quickly to something else. And we had the perspective of George Romney as well, which was wonderful. It's just always looking forward. He was still alive at that time, so he was involved in that at that race, too. And we had a lot of fun with him. Those were good memories, actually.

  12. Ψ Share
    Related topics:
    Romney as Governor

    Tom Stemberg   Founder of Staples, Inc.

    (Text only) Tom Stemberg founded Staples and served as CEO for 16 years. Under Mitt Romney, Bain Capital helped finance the first Staples, which opened in Brighton, Mass. in 1986. Staples was one of Bain’s earliest investments. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted on June 15, 2012.

    Read the full interview »

    ... What makes him decide to go for governor, do you think, and how did you help him talk about it?

    I think a whole bunch of friends of his inside and outside politics -- and I of course was outside politics -- told him that we thought the state needed him and his leadership to right the ship.

    The state was running huge deficits with no end in sight, and I was out at the Olympics when Mitt was running the Olympics and saw him out there and gave him my pitch. And Mitt did his normal smile, listened: "Gosh, you know, we've got a Republican governor. I can't imagine going back there, Tom. I've been so tied up with the Olympics. I've got to think of what's going forward." So I didn't get very far at all.

    Then I grabbed Ann, and I give her my same pitch. And she goes: "You're right. And I've been telling him the same thing. He's got to go for this, and you really got to work on him." So she clearly thought the state needed Mitt, and she was going to get him to do it.

    Is she that capable of pushing him around a little bit for something that really matters?

    Nobody pushes Mitt Romney around. Having said that, if there's one person whom he will almost always defer to, it's Ann Romney. Mitt is extraordinarily parsimonious in almost everything he does of charity. I'll never forget at a Staples board meeting over in Hamburg, [Germany]. Ann Romney comes back with this coat, this absolutely beautiful coat, and this is a Hamburg designer, and it was a huge price tag. And I looked at Mitt and says, "Mitt." He smiles. "It's Ann."

  13. Ψ Share

    Eric Fehrnstrom   Romney political adviser

    Eric Fehrnstrom has worked for Romney for a decade, first as his press secretary in Romney’s 2002 run for governor of Massachusetts. Prior to his work in politics, Fehrnstrom worked in public relations and as a reporter for the Boston Herald. This is an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Aug. 21, 2012.

    I want to talk about Ann. ... I think for this campaign she was really the one who said, "You have to do this."

    Right.

    Talk to me about the role that she plays for him. And are there examples of situations where you have advised one way and she has pushed him in another direction?

    Well, we call Ann the "Mitt stabilizer." She has a way of calming Mitt. And when the governor is on the road for long stretches of time, where he doesn't get to see his wife, we get a little frantic back at the headquarters because we try to arrange for them to meet up on the trail, because it really does stabilize the governor and clarify his thinking.

    As far as the counsel that she provides to the governor, that's done in private. She is one of his number one advisers. And I think the governor takes very seriously what he hears from his wife. But ultimately she knows that Mitt's going to make the final decision. But she contributes as she sees fit.

    And as that stabilizer -- you've been with him now for almost a decade. What do you observe in terms of what she brings to him and how that relationship works?

    Well, if you've ever seen Mitt talk about Ann, or Ann talk about Mitt, you know that this is a couple that is deeply in love after 40 years of marriage. They have a wonderful family. For them, family centers their life. The governor's happiest moments are not spent on the campaign trail or at a town hall meeting, as important as those are. His happiest moments are spent with his grandchildren and his five sons and his wife.

    They have every year an annual get-together up at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire that lasts a week or two. And I've heard Mitt describe that as the happiest occasion of the year for him because he's together with his entire family, and he's proud of every one of them. And there's a lot to be proud of.

  14. Ψ Share
    Related topics:

    Ann Romney   Mitt Romney's wife.

    Born Ann Davies, she met Mitt Romney in high school and the couple married in 1969, three months after Mitt returned from being a missionary in France. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Gabrielle Tenenbaum on Sept. 11, 2012.

    The turn, you said the crazier idea was that you jumped back in. We spoke with Tagg, and he said the family was brought together. And you two were the only ones sort of in the yea camp. And you specifically were really the one that sort of --

    Yeah. I mean, the thing is, I knew exactly what a campaign meant. There were going to be no surprises. I knew how tough a campaign was. I knew how tough the primary was going to be. To me that wasn't the deciding factor as to whether we should go forward or not.

    The deciding factor to me was: Mitt, if you actually have the possibility to finally get in the White House and actually have the opportunity to run the country, is it too late, basically, to turn the country around? Because I think we're all recognizing that we're facing a very enormous fiscal cliff right now. And a lot of people are unemployed.

    And, you know, his answer was: "Why, it's getting late. But it's not too late yet." And I said: "That's really all I need to know. I know that you can do that. I know." I have trust, complete trust in this man and his capabilities. Like I say, he will not fail. He does not fail. He will be thinking and working every single day for every person that's unemployed or underemployed. He'll swim upstream. He'll die trying to make sure to get it right, and to make sure that he gets the country going again, and that he gets the economic engine turned on again.

    And I had that belief in him and trusted it and just said, "Look, we have to run, just because I know you have the unusual skill set of having done so many unusual things in your life." He's turned around companies. He's been in consulting. He's been a governor. He's run the Olympics. He has a lot of experience at turning troubled things around. And so I just trust that he'll be able to turn the country around, too.

403 Forbidden

Forbidden

You don't have permission to access /wgbh/pages/frontline/includes/sidebar_wide_bottom_wp.inc on this server.

FRONTLINE   Watch FRONTLINE   About FRONTLINE   Contact FRONTLINE
Privacy Policy   Journalistic Guidelines   PBS Privacy Policy   PBS Terms of Use   Corporate Sponsorship
FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2012 WGBH Educational Foundation
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.