Oprah Talks to the Romneys
Mitt Romney: Well, I'm glad he got Osama bin Laden, that's one. A man's been in office three and a half years, he does hundreds of things. I'm sure there are a few that are fine.
Oprah: Let me ask you, the latest survey I saw said that about 62 percent of Mormons believe that Americans don't understand what it means to be a Mormon. What does it mean to you to be a Mormon?
Mitt Romney: Well, it was the faith that I grew up in. It taught me a deep and abiding love of God and his son Jesus Christ, and I did my best to be a better person in part because of my faith. My faith teaches me to serve, to give of myself to others. We pretty much throughout our lives have given about 10 percent of our gross income to our church and 10 percent or more of our time to serving in our church and our community.
Ann Romney: Then we give to charity, too.
Mitt Romney: And then we give to other things as well, but the church gets 10 percent of our gross income.
Oprah: Still to this day.
Mitt Romney: Still to this day.
Oprah: Okay. And what is your relationship with God? Would God be a part of your process in making decisions?
Mitt Romney: I believe deeply in the value of prayer, and I pray regularly and contemplate important issues. But I have to tell you a story about one of the leaders of our church, and that was Brigham Young. It is said that as he was leading the wagon train to the West, one of the wagons that was going through the North Platte River got caught by a current, and as it was beginning to be swept away, the person who was driving the wagon got on his knees to start to pray, and Brigham Young rode out into the river on his horse and grabbed the man by the back and said, "This is no time for prayer." [Laughs.] So we're a very hands-on, get-the-job-done, take-personal-responsibility kind of people. But of course, in the meditation of prayer, I hope to seek the kind of guidance that comes from the Divine.
Oprah: What's your proudest achievement as a parent?
Josh Romney: [Standing at the back of the room, listening.] I'm right here. [All laugh.]
Mitt Romney: [To Ann] Answer her question, sweetie.
Ann Romney: Raising sons that are good husbands to these beautiful girls.
Oprah: That's your proudest achievement.
Mitt Romney: Oh, no question. Mine, too. But she deserves most of the credit for that. There's no question that's the greatest source of joy and accomplishment in our lives, raising our sons and seeing them become the men they are.
Oprah: [To Ann] I don't know if Mormons get pissed off, but I'm just gonna ask this: When Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen criticized you for not having a job outside the home, did that kind of tick you off a bit?
Ann Romney: Frankly, it was rather humorous to me. Because it was like, maybe she should visit my house once and see what it's like. Raising children is the hardest job that there is on the face of the Earth. There's no question about it, and I think Mitt would agree. I think it's why we have such a strong partnership—he valued very much my work and reminded me all the time that it was more important.
Oprah: Because he knew it was work.
Mitt Romney: I knew her job was more important than my job. My job was temporary, I was getting money and whatever so we could have a family and have a home and provide for them, but her job is eternal. She's raising the people who will be part of our life for the eternities. It's the most important thing that you do.
Oprah: Planned Parenthood has said that you are just wrong for women. What would you say to the 14 million readers of this magazine to reassure them that you're not?
Mitt Romney: I'd tell them I want to get good jobs for women who want work, and I want good jobs for their kids who want work, and I'm concerned that if we stay on the path we're on, there will not be good jobs with rising income for the women and children of America. This campaign is about jobs and kids. It's not about attacking people for being in the 1 percent. It's about the middle class of America and good jobs for women and their families. And that's what I hear women care about. In my days in office, from the very beginning, all my energy is going to be focused on getting this economy turned around. I haven't got some conservative reformation of some program I'm going to put in place—I'm gonna focus on jobs.
Oprah: How are you going to get us the jobs?
Mitt Romney: There are five key areas that you have to touch to get jobs. One, we have a huge ace in the hole: massive energy resources—natural gas, oil, coal, as well as nuclear and renewables. Pursuing those aggressively is going to bring back manufacturing. Number two, trade. It's good for us to be able to trade with other nations. It creates jobs here. Number three, cutting back the size of government and its deficit because high levels of debt, as a percentage of the GDP, slows down GDP growth. You've got to rein in the size of the government or the economy will grow more slowly, and that kills jobs. Number four, I call it human capital. In a capitalist system, we have financial capital, but we also have people capital, meaning skills, know-how, ambition. And we're losing that. Our schools are failing us, our families are failing us, our training programs for adult education are failing us—I've got to fix that. And by the way, the teachers' unions don't give a hundred million dollars to my campaign, so I can just focus on the kids. Finally, and this is a big one, and the most important in some respects: economic freedom. You've got to restore a sense that entrepreneurs have that in America you can achieve your dreams. That there's nothing wrong with being successful, that we're going to have taxes that are fair and appropriate for all the people, that we're not going to go after some people more than others, we're going to have regulators that see their job as encouraging enterprise, not crushing it.
Oprah: Fair enough. I certainly agree that there's nothing wrong with being successful! Now let's shift gears and head into the speed round.
Mitt Romney: Oh, speed round.
Oprah: Favorite food or meal to share?
Mitt Romney: For her, it's salmon. For me, it's meatloaf cakes.
Oprah: Meatloaf cakes?
Mitt Romney: Yes, she makes little meatloaf cakes with a sweet sauce on top. Meatloaf cakes and mashed potatoes. Best thing in the world.
Oprah: Wow. Breaded?
Ann Romney: A little bit of bread in the meatloaf itself, not on top.
Oprah: Got any of those in the kitchen? Did you make any today? [Laughs.] Okay, song that makes you turn up the volume.
Ann Romney: Roy Orbison, actually. Yes, anything with Roy Orbison we just really, really love.
Mitt Romney: "In Dreams."
Ann Romney: "In Dreams."
Mitt Romney: "Pretty Woman." "Crying'."
Oprah: Roy Orbison, okay. Household chore that you know you're good at?
Mitt Romney: Painting. I've painted rooms, stained floors. Oftentimes I don't even need to put down a drop cloth. I'm good enough at it. Right?
Ann Romney: Yes, that's true. However, I will tell you that when we moved to Tyler Road in Belmont [Massachusetts], you were really busy and I had Ben, who was a newborn baby, and I painted the entire house with one arm. The paint fumes may have done something to that child—that accounts for a lot.
Oprah: Okay, hidden talent.
Mitt Romney: Water sports. I grew up in Detroit, near the Great Lakes. So whether it's water skiing or disking, yeah. I have a round piece of wood, four feet in diameter, and I can stand on that and be pulled behind a boat and turn around in circles. But I also can put a stepladder on it, climb the stepladder, get to the top, turn around in circles on the top of the stepladder while being pulled behind the boat.
Ann Romney: Just think how much time this took to learn how to do.
Oprah: That is something I've never heard of.
Ann Romney: Me driving the boat, like, "faster," "slower"...this is how we spent our youth.
Mitt Romney: [To Ann] Do we still have that movie, with your brother and me doing that?
Ann Romney: I think so.
Oprah: Okay, all-time-favorite TV show?
Ann Romney: Oh, all-time favorite—Seinfeld, you think?
Mitt Romney: Seinfeld. Absolutely.
Ann Romney: It's so funny. We still watch it.
Oprah: In reruns?
Ann Romney: Yeah, the reruns. We're like, "Oh, wait until he says this."
Mitt Romney: Love Seinfeld.
Oprah: Okay, finish this sentence: "To my critics, I say..."
Ann Romney: You're wrong. [All laugh.]
Mitt Romney: Just you wait and see.
Oprah: "Just you wait and see." Okay, "My vision for the world is..."
Mitt Romney: More liberty. More freedom. Opportunity. And hope.
Oprah: Do you have a personal mantra?
Mitt Romney: Not really. [To Ann] Do you think?
Ann Romney: Yes, you do.
Mitt Romney: What's that?
Ann Romney: Pray, always be believing.
Mitt Romney: Oh, yes. It's in a book of scripture in my faith, and it says, "Search diligently, pray always and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good."
Oprah: "What I know for sure is..."
Mitt Romney: God lives, my wife loves me and my family is the most important thing in my life.
Oprah: Perfect. Thank you.
Ann Romney: Now we're taking a tour through the kitchen.
Mitt Romney: Really?
Ann Romney: Yes, because there's veggie trays.
Oprah: And the meatloaf cakes are in there.
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