Friday, September 21, 2007

Ann Romney Balances Campaign and Personal Time

In the News

By Melody Brumble

Ann Romney speaks with professional enthusiasm about the demands of campaigning for her husband, but her face lights up as she describes a perfect moment with one of her horses.

Romney, wife of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, spoke at a luncheon sponsored by area Republican groups Wednesday.

Margaret Shehee Cole said she was excited at the opportunity to meet Romney. "I read about her in her People magazine article.

"I think she's struggling with an illness, but she's still able to make campaign appearances and lead a normal life," Cole said. "If I get to talk to her, I want to ask how she maintains her energy levels and how she keeps her spirits up."

Romney took a few minutes before the luncheon to talk about how she copes with multiple sclerosis, a chronic neurological disease, and the demands of travel. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998, right after she took up riding again. Romney was seriously ill with the disease for three years before alternative therapies helped her improve.

These days, she builds downtime into a schedule that sees her flying all over the country. The pressure will increase with presidential caucuses and primaries in six states looming between Jan. 1 and Feb. 5. She and her husband maintain mostly separate schedules, keeping in touch with text messages and e-mails. They get together every five days or so. The couple's five sons also are campaigning.

"It's a balancing act," Romney said, recalling how quickly she tired when MS was at its worst. "I can get to that fatigue very quickly. I make sure I get home. I recharge my batteries by riding horses."

Less than 18 hours before the luncheon Wednesday, she was at home in Massachusetts putting her 20-year-old horse, Baron, through a series of intricate dressage moves. Dressage demands athleticism and balance on the part of the horse and subtle communication between rider and horse.

"He was so together," Romney said, eyes glowing, hands moving as she recalled how high off the grand Baron stepped while making a transition from one movement to another.

"It's a passion for me. If you have a passion, your life is so much richer and fuller."

Romney's other passion is cooking, but she has little time to indulge it these days.

She remains active in the Multiple Sclerosis Society and has worked with at-risk, inner-city young people. She said she wants to continue supporting both causes if she becomes first lady.

"I would love to help find a cure for MS."

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