- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2011

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, often criticized as a candidate who has difficulty connecting emotionally with voters, talked about the importance of love and family in an unusually personal interview Sunday.

“If you think about what makes a difference to you in your life, it’s people,” he said on “Fox News Sunday,” when host Chris Wallace asked about Ann Romney, the candidate’s wife of 42 years who is a cancer and multiple sclerosis survivor.

When she was diagnosed with MS in 1998, he said the two of them feared the worst.
“Probably the toughest time in my life was standing there with Ann as we hugged each other and the diagnosis came,” Mr. Romney told Mr. Wallace.

Mr. Romney, 64, said his wife, whom he met in high school, was worried about whether she could continue to care for her family or manage day-to-day activities, such as preparing meals.

“I said, look, I don’t care what the meals are like. You know, I like cold cereal and peanut butter sandwiches. We could do fine with that as long as we have each other,” Mr. Romney said.

“I’m happy in life as long as I’ve got my soul mate with me,” he said.

Mrs. Romney, who has since almost fully recovered, has been highly visible on the campaign trail lately, appearing with her husband and headlining events on her own.

Looking to break through with undecided Republican voters who have flirted with a succession of other contenders, from Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry to former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain and now former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the Romney campaign is hoping a bigger role for the candidate’s wife can close the deal.

Since the emergence of the thrice-married Mr. Gingrich as a legitimate top-tier threat, the Romney team has even highlighted the Romneys’ long marriage in recent ads.

“You know, this marriage thing, it’s about bringing two people together in a way that nothing else compares with,” Mr. Romney said on Fox TV. “My feelings and passion for Ann haven’t changed in the slightest over the years, other than to become stronger. She feels the same way about me, I hope, as I feel about her.”

With just more than two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, the Romney campaign seemed to be picking up some momentum over the weekend, scoring a crucial endorsement from the influential Des Moines Register and another from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Mr. Romney also took time in the Fox interview to take a jab at the man he wants to replace, criticizing President Obama’s handling of the end of the Iraq war.

“I hope it works out,” the former Massachusetts governor said. “I’m very concerned.

“I think we’re going to find that this president, by not putting in place a status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi leadership, has pulled our troops out in a precipitous way and we should have left 10-, 20-, 20-thousand personnel there to help transition to the Iraqi’s own military capabilities,” Mr. Romney said.

Mr. Obama last week noted the end of America’s military involvement in Iraq with a speech at Fort Bragg, N.C. The pullout was completed earlier Sunday with a convoy of soldiers and equipment rolling south out of Iraq and into Kuwait. An estimated 150 U.S. troops remain in Iraq serving as advisers and training consultants.

Asked whether he would reinstate troops to Iraq if elected, Mr. Romney said wouldn’t answer, saying that the threshold for any decision to deploy U.S. troops in a Romney presidency would be “high.”

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