By Carol Cain
Senior Producer and Host
WWJ-TV/CBS Detroit’s “Michigan Matters”
Ann Romney recalled the conversation with her husband, Mitt, when he told her he was thinking about running for president again.
“After 2008, I said I would never do that again,” she told me as we sat in the back of the bus adorned with “Romney for President” on the outside and family pictures dotting the walls inside.
Who could blame any sane person for thinking the same knowing it meant months of rubber chicken dinners, grueling travel schedules, having to be perky at every campaign stop in places most never heard of and with folks you don’t know?
“Of course, he reminded me I said the same thing after each of our boys was born (they have five sons),” she added with a laugh.
She made the comments during taping of “Michigan Matters” which airs 11 a.m Sunday on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit. Mitt Romney appears as well.
Michigan’s hotly contested primary Tuesday is a showdown for Romney – He’s a native son whose late dad, George Romney, was once Michigan’s governor, saved American Motors and also ran for president.
Romney, who has been the front runner through much of the 2012 GOP season, is facing a challenge from former Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum with polls showing the race in the state he was born in is now too close to call.
Arizona also holds its primary Tuesday with Super Tuesday on March 6 when 10 states hold primaries or caucuses.
Michigan is a bellweather for what comes next in the Republican contest.
Among the GOP candidates’s spouses – Ann Romney – also a native Michigander – has been most the most visible and vocal.
The couple – married 42 years — met as children in school. She knew politics as her dad Edward Davies, was mayor of Bloomfield Hills.
Mitt was two years older. They later dated and agreed to marry after he finished college.
Mitt, who had steady chores and worked summers including as a security guard at a Chrysler plant in high school, also worked as a night security guard while attending Stanford University for a year to buy airline tickets to fund secret trips home to see Ann.
They believe they were and are soul mates.
“I’ve watched him fix things his entire life. I asked him one question: if you win, you can fix it? He said ‘yes’ and that was it.”
The couple decided to go for it knowing Ann Romney faced serious health concerns.
Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998 and breast cancer in 2008, she has been cancer free since but must work to keep her MS in line.
“I was so sick and depressed I couldn’t get out of bed,” she recalled of her MS diagnosis.
“Mitt was so incredibly gentle and kind,” she said. “He told me he knew I was going to be OK. And I believed him.”
“I wish more people knew him,” she said. “Women voters in particular would vote for him if they knew him like I know him.”
At the moment, what America has heard most via the endless sea of GOP debates (the 20th held in Mesa, Ariz. on Wednesday), is conversation about social issues, government earmarks and verbal volleys about who is the true conservative.
Missing has been much discussion of the issue many will use as their filter when they decide which lever to pull in the voting booth in November – jobs and how to create more.
I spoke with Mitt Romney on Tuesday before he held a town hall with 500 people in Shelby Township. He discussed his plans for reining in the burgeoning deficit, getting long-term debt under control, and creating a tax policy that would help foster jobs.
He talked of it again Wednesday during the debate.
But it was lost in the barbs between he and Santorum, Ron Paul and Santorum and others on earmarks and other issues.
Knowing how grueling life on the campaign trail is, one has to wonder why a guy worth millions, with a nice family and Norman Rockwell life would go through this process again.
He says it’s a call to public service inherited from his parents. Even his late mother, Lenore, ran for U.S. Senate in Michigan.
He came to politics with advice from his father – the same words of wisdom he now passing on to his sons – specifically Tagg — who has been courted by some to consider running for elected office too.
“Don’t run for office until your children are grown and you have made your money,” Romney told me his dad said. “You don’t want to be owing anyone.”
I asked Romney what he would do if he doesn’t prevail in his quest.
“I’m planning on winning Michigan and then the White House,” he said.
“But, if for some reason I am not given that honor by the American public, I’d go back to business and do more with my sons now that they are older. I have a great life with a wonderful wife and I’d continue to have a wonderful life.”
Carol Cain is an Emmy winning journalist who is senior producer and host of WWJ-TV CBS Detroit’s “Michigan Matters.” She writes about business and politics in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at 248-355-7126 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook.