Photo: Rob Howard
Oprah: Are you a good mother-in-law?
Ann Romney: Very. [Mitt laughs.]
Oprah: What makes you so?
Ann Romney: Because they know how much I love them, and how much I've been waiting for them to come into my life.
Oprah: Are you a mother-in-law who's in their business or out of their business? Can they come to you?
Ann Romney: I'm in their fun business. But even when there's a problem, they'll talk to me about that, which is nice.
Oprah: Really? That's good.
Ann Romney: I'm in their business in a good way.
Mitt Romney: There are lots of daughters-in-law here, so it's only fair that we let them weigh in. [Mary Romney is summoned from the kitchen.]
Ann Romney: Mary, Oprah wanted to know—am I a good mother-in-law?
Mary Romney: Oh my gosh, she is the best mother-in-law in the world, are you kidding? She gives a lot of advice when you ask for it, and other than that, she's out of your business. And she gets us great little gifts. [Indicates the bracelet she's wearing.] She's a great shopping companion.
Oprah: That's great. I want to know from you, Governor...
Mitt Romney: Time to go! [Laughs.]
Oprah: I want to know from you, what were your dreams growing up? When did you know you wanted to be president? That's a high calling.
Mitt Romney: Not any time during my youth. I never imagined that. As a little boy, I wanted to be a policeman. And then as I got older and I saw my dad in the car business, an automobile executive. I love cars, I like the idea of manufacturing something, having a product, a hard product to sell and promote, but as time went on I recognized that car companies are so bureaucratic and so ossified that it would take forever to work your way up. And so I went into consulting.
Oprah: Kudos to your dad for being able to move up in a car company.
Mitt Romney: My dad was phenomenal. Born in Mexico, lived poor, didn't graduate from college, and becomes head of a car company and then governor of a state. I can't imagine I would have ever thought about running for office had I not seen my dad do it.
Oprah: So this calling to be president—do you feel you're called, or is it something else? Is it a yearning? What is it?
Mitt Romney: It's not that. It is that I feel I have an obligation, given the experience I've had, to help get the country back on track. And Ann was the one who really pushed it.
Oprah: [To Ann] I was going to ask you that, because in 2008, didn't you say, "Never again"?
Ann Romney: Never again. Never again. Emphatically, never again.
Oprah: Yes, and then what changed?
Ann Romney: It's this women's thing, like intuition—I felt like he was the person that had the right answers for the right time. That there was an economic crisis, there was a jobs crisis, and there were millions of Americans in need of someone who knew how to turn things around.
Oprah: But at the end of 2008, you'd had enough?
Ann Romney: Absolutely.
Oprah: Why, because it was so grueling?
Ann Romney: It's hard on families. It's hard. You know, I've known this guy since we were kids. I was 15 when I met him and he was 18, and I know his heart. I know how good he is. And I know how committed he is, I know how hard he works, I know how conscientious he is. And I think that the most amazing thing he did in his life was literally walk away from Bain Capital and say, "All right, I'm gonna take no pay and go for three years and just do something totally different" [run the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City]. I think we would never have done anything like that if it had not been for his dad, showing that making money is all good and well, but as soon as you sort of feel like you've got enough, then it's time to give back. And it just seemed like a natural progression, even though most people thought we were crazy to do that.
Next: How Ann influences her husband