I kissed her at the door, and Ive been following her ever since, he said once. Shes a remarkable woman, and shes gone through some tough times.
Both were raised by affluent families, but Mitt also amassed his own wealth.
Ann took care of the boys. Josh, the middle son, said his mother was always there when he and his brothers got home from school. She was the fun-loving one, while my dad was more the disciplinarian, he said.
Sometimes the Romneys go as long as a week without seeing each other. They keep up with each other via email and phone calls.
Romney isnt the go-to person for campaign strategy or policy decisions. But when Mitt wants an honest opinion or perspective on a sensitive topic, he calls his wife. She said she never wants him to feel alone in this endeavor.
I feel like my role really is to be able to give him just comfort in going through this very difficult process that were going through, she said, and knowing that Im standing by his side, that I trust him, that Im rooting for him, that Im with him.
She is the only wife depicted among the portraits of Massachusetts former governors. In the painting of Mitt, he is leaning on a desk with a photo of Ann and a copy of his signature health care reform legislation by his side.
When the Republican presidential candidates debated in Jacksonville in January, State Sen. John Thrasher sat next to Ann. During each commercial break, she left her seat to check on Mitt, who met her at the edge of the stage, Thrasher said.
He would look for her, said Thrasher, a St. Augustine Republican who has known the Romneys for years. That one little thing there gave me a signal of how close they are and how much respect they have for each other.
Pull no punches
Romney said she wants people to know her husband is compassionate, competent and the right person to lead the nation. That is why she changed her mind about allowing him to run for office one last time, he son said.
It was that question on the economy, her son, Josh, said. She asked him, Will you turn the economy around? And he said, yes.
So what does Romney want people to know about her? That I am pretty direct and pretty honest and I dont pull any punches, she said.
If she becomes the first lady, Romney says she will continue to be an advocate for people diagnosed with breast cancer or multiple sclerosis. But she also wants to lend a voice to people who are struggling in other ways, such as at-risk youth.
Thrasher said Ann would be an involved first lady, taking on meaningful projects and being especially attentive to young people.
I think shed be an activist, he said. I think shed be very, very involved in children and families. To me, thats her strength.
Herald/Times staff writer Michael Van Sickler contributed to this report.