Ann Romney earned a degree in French, then decided to stay home and raise their five sons. She never sought the spotlight, though she made comments during her husband’s 1994 campaign against Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy that came off as damaging to her husband. After Mitt Romney took office as Massachusetts governor, she served as his unpaid liaison to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
“I couldn’t operate without Ann,” Romney told an interviewer after he was elected governor. “We’re a partnership. We’ve always been a partnership.”
Ann Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, after feeling numbness in her right leg in 1998. She was treated with acupuncture and reflexology, among other Eastern and Western therapies. She also found relief in horseback riding.
In 2008, she received another diagnosis for a noninvasive type of breast cancer. She underwent a lumpectomy and is reported to be cancer-free.
“The thing that you can’t ever know about life is what tomorrow will bring. And so you just step forward and just go on,’’ she said in a July interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “And so, for us right now, I really believe that he’s the right person at the right time.”
She has embraced her role as a homemaker. Earlier this year when Democratic commentator Hilary Rosen suggested she should not comment on economic matters because she "never worked a day in her life," she responded on Twitter: "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."
Karen Skrill, 68, a retired sheep farmer and alternate Republican convention delegate from Vermont, said Monday that criticisms about Romney’s desire to stay home with her kids are inappropriate. “They are really stretching for something to complain about,’’ said Skrill, who initially supported Rep. Ron Paul’s bid for the nomination. “I am impressed with the fact that she raised five boys. . . . That’s tremendous.”
Romney has said she doesn’t advise her husband on policy, but her influence shows through. She was the first to reveal that women were on the short list of possible vice presidential picks.
Brent Oleson, 41, a lawyer and a delegate from Iowa who supported Paul, said he hoped Ann Romney will be able to show that there’s nothing wrong with her husband’s wealth. “Her talking about that could humanize him,’’ Oleson said.
Barbara Finger, 56, an unemployed fast food worker and delegate from Wisconsin who initially supported former Sen. Rick Santorum, said Mitt and Ann Romney compliment each other well. “She can calm him down,’’ she said.