BEXLEY, Ohio — This was a question any voter across America might have wanted to ask Mitt Romney: I know you’ve been very successful in business and at the Olympics, but can you show us that you have a heart and love Americans?
When one man asked Romney that question at a town hall meeting here Wednesday afternoon, Romney acknowledged that one of the challenges of running for president is projecting humanity to the masses.
“Most people just see you in the debates,” Romney said. “And so we stand there all in our suits, you know, we’re all wearing white shirts, blue suits, uhh, black shoes, and either a red or blue tie. We all stand there looking somewhat alike and get 60 seconds to answer questions like, ‘How do we bring peace to the world?’ ”
“And in settings like that, why, people don’t get to know you very well,” Romney continued. “And in settings like this, with questions like that, you can get to know me a little bit better.”
At that, Romney went about introducing himself, exposing his tender side. “Like the rest of you in this room, by far the most important thing in my life is my wife,” Romney said, noting that he and Ann fell in love young and enjoy a marriage “that is still filled with love.” Romney said the greatest challenge in his life was when Ann was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the late 1990s.
Another joy, he said, was watching his five boys become men, and now fathers. “Grandkids are fabulous! You don’t have to change their diapers and they love you. When I turn into my kids’ homes and my grandkids are there, they come running up and give me a big hug. It’s so exciting and I love my 16 grandkids.”
But Romney was sure to note that his love extends beyond his family, saying, “I also care about the community at large and the nation of America and the people of our nation.” He cited his work as a Boston area lay pastor for his Mormon church – he said his religion is “an unusual religion in a number of respects,” including that it does not have a paid ministry.
“It took about 20, 30, 40 hours a week in some weeks,” Romney said, describing his lay pastor duties. “So besides my regular job, I was pastoring people in my congregation – and people of different backgrounds, different nationalities and different circumstances of life.”
Now, Romney said, he wants to use what he’s learned through his life’s work to help the American people.
“If I were a doctor and I saw somebody who was obviously suffering from some condition, I would want to do something to help,” Romney said. “Well, my experience is not in medicine; my experience is in business. And I think that's what America needs right now. … This is a family crisis going on in America, and I think I can help. I can't solve all the problems, but I can make a difference, and that's why I am in this race.”