What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Ann Romney on her battle with multiple sclerosis and the race for the White House

Ann Romney, wife of former governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, had what appeared to be the perfect life. In her new memoir, "In This Together: My Story," she writes about what it was like grappling her identity after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She talks with Judy Woodruff about health care, her treatments and the 2016 race for the White House.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:, in 1997, Ann Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease which cannot be cured, but can be treated. Now she has written a memoir, “In This Together:

    Now another addition to our NewsHour Bookshelf.

    Some have called it a storybook life, married to her teenage sweetheart, mother of five children, financially secure with a loving, supportive husband.

    But My Story,” her account of the journey she has traveled these last 18 years.

    Welcome, Ann Romney.

  • Ann Romney,, “In This Together:

    Author My Story”: Thank you so much.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    This is a very personal story. It’s, in fact, remarkably personal for someone who has been so much in the public eye.

  • Ann Romney:

    Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    How hard was it to write?

  • Ann Romney:

    Well, it was hard, because it was — I had to go back to those very dark days, which was, not — it’s not like I felt proud of myself, how depressed I was and how sorry I felt for myself.

    But I knew it was important, and I wanted to share this story, so I wanted to — I deliberately made it personal, so that people would know that I was opening my heart to them and that I was sharing with them where I was and where I have come since then.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Did you go in knowing you wanted to be really candid? Because you are candid in here.

  • Ann Romney:

    You know, they’re — I did. I wanted to be candid. It was very deliberate.

    And then, when I had written a lot of it, the publisher came back and they said, we want more. And so I brought out a few more stories that I wouldn’t really have shared. It was hard in some ways, but then also so honest, and I wanted to be that way, so that people can honestly know that I am here to try to help people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, it really is your journey from the diagnosis, what, 18 years ago through various therapies. You seem to be doing very well.

    But what’s been the hardest part of this?

  • Ann Romney:

    I think the hardest part was initially, when I was first diagnosed. And then I was so sick that it stripped me from my identity.

    And how it did that was that I think we identify ourselves by labels or things that we are able to do: I am this. I am a good cook. I am a good mother. I am a good this. I am a good doctor. I am a good lawyer.

    When you can’t do those things anymore, you wonder where your identity is. And I think, for me, it was going to places where I was uncomfortable going and being stripped down, so that I was really vulnerable.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, you are open about the treatments you have tried, everything from chemotherapy, horseback riding therapy, something called reflexology, your faith.

    What is your view of alternative medicine?

  • Ann Romney:

    Well, I like to tell people, when they get a diagnosis like, this, of course, go to the Western treatment, and especially with M.S.

    It’s very important that people get aggressive and early treatment. This is different than what it was when I was first diagnosed, where they said wait until you’re much sicker to get treatment. But now we know, get aggressive treatment from the very beginning.

    But after that, you know, the sad thing is, you still don’t feel well. You still have symptoms of fatigue and all these things, that it’s just unrelenting and very debilitating. And I found that reflexology worked for me. I found that riding horses worked for me.

    Finding joy in your life is another really important component. And losing yourself in doing something else, and not always dwelling on your illness is very important.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    There’s a lot in here that’s really inspirational.

    And I have to ask you a little bit about politics. You said after the campaign of 2012 that you felt terrible for what America had lost.

  • Ann Romney:

    Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That was right after the election.

    How do you feel about how things are going today?

  • Ann Romney:

    Well, it’s frustrating.

    You know, we can see that it looks like there is an economic recovery. And, at the same time, that recovery has left out the middle class and millions of Americans. And so we still have so many problems. We look at internationally. What is happening in the Middle East is just — is heart-wrenching and devastating. And you think of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and all the problems that are happening in the world.

    And it is frustrating for me to watch this, because I feel as though Mitt would have been a very good president. And I said, it’s not our loss, because our lives are fine, but the country lost by not having Mitt as president.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And you did give some thought, both of you, to running this time, decided…

  • Ann Romney:

    For about 20 seconds.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But you decided not to.

    But we now have a contest on the Republican side where it seems people with no government experience are more favored than anybody else. Do you think that’s healthy?

  • Ann Romney:

    Well, I think it’s a reflection of a sentiment, and I’m not sure it’s where we will end up.

    There’s a lot of ups and downs in a campaign, but I think it’s a reflection. And if you look at both the Democratic contest and the Republican contest, the same thing is happening, where people are — I think feel — I think the voters feel disenfranchised.

    I think they feel like things go on in Washington without the best interest of the American — that — the public being put first. I think they’re right. I think government has been run for a long time by special interests, and listening to the lobbyists. And I think people are really frustrated with that.

    So, I think the sentiment is not only out there. I think it’s real, and I think that politicians are better — obviously, they’re turning to people outside of the norm to say, you go in there with a wrecking ball and just — just smash it all to pieces.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Ann Romney:

    And I think that’s their sentiment.

    I think, at the end of the day, they will come to and coalesce around a candidate that will be able to unify and also respond to some of this sentiment.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But maybe not where they are right now?

  • Ann Romney:

    I don’t think they will be where they are right now. I think they will come and try to find someone maybe with a little — a little experience.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I just have to ask you one other question.

    And that is a story in The Wall Street Journal today, front page, about the cost of prescription drugs. And they single out drugs for multiple sclerosis, and they talk about, in the last, I think, decade, drugs went up an average of 16 percent a year each year over the last decade.

  • Ann Romney:

    Yes.

    It’s — it’s…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What does that say?

  • Ann Romney:

    Well, it’s — we all know that the drug companies are responsible for a lot of the research.

    And we know that it is extremely expensive for them to do that, and it costs a lot of money for them to do it. But we also know that, once they get an exclusive use of a certain drug, that they do seem to take a bit of advantage of that.

    So, there has to be a recognition that we need that. We need the drug companies spending that money and doing that research. We also need them to be responsible for not hurting people that are desperate for some of these drugs.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It’s been a pleasure talking with you, Ann Romney.

    The book is “In This Together: My Story.”

    Thank you very much.

  • Ann Romney:

    Thank you very much.

Listen to this Segment

Latest News