RD Interview: Mitt Romney

On his campaign bus in Zanesville, Ohio, the Republican nominee talks with Reader’s Digest editor Liz Vaccariello about memory, marriage—and his favorite joke.

from Reader's Digest Magazine | November 2012

RD Interview: Mitt RomneyRichard Perry/New York Times/Redux
RD: Every leader, executive, every person wakes up some days and just has a bad day. Just can’t be happy or get pumped up. Do you have a trick or a strategy that you use to get your energy up? Do you have a theme song?

Romney: If I have a bad hair day, I just think, Well, it will be an OK hair day tomorrow. Just put your head down and go. Life is a bit like being on a roller coaster, which is, You get on and there’s no stopping along the way. There are some days when you feel like this is pretty tough, and there are the days that are exhilarating, but you just keep on going.

RD: When’s the last time you got choked up?

Romney: I was emotional and choked up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this week when I introduced Paul Ryan to 13,200 people from his community. And they cheered and cheered, and I looked at him, and he had tears in his eyes, and that immediately brought tears to my eyes. The love and respect they had for him reminded me of how much of a character he is.

RD: Now for a few Reader’s Digest–themed questions. One of our columns goes back almost 90 years, and it’s called My Most Unforgettable Character. Who would you say is your most unforgettable character? Tell me why.

Romney: My father. My dad was born in Mexico. He came back to the United States at age five or six. He was under the care of the government for a while because they came back poor. His family went broke more than once. And he was never able to finish college, but he became head of a car company and a three-term governor and ran for president of the United States. He was a person unbounded by circumstance. A man of character and vision who lived his life without guile.

RD: “Unbounded by circumstance.” That’s lovely. We have another popular column called Word Power, and many people around the world say that they’ve learned English from it or that they’ve expanded their vocabulary because of it. What’s your favorite word, in any language?

Romney: What’s my favorite word? Indomitable.

RD: At Reader’s Digest, we always say that laughter is the best medicine. So what’s your favorite joke, and could you tell it to me now?

Romney: I came into a large room of Republicans in Massachusetts, and I turned to my wife and said, “Ann, in your wildest dreams, did you see me running for political office?” And she turned back and said, “Mitt, you weren’t in my wildest dreams.”

RD: I like that your favorite joke was Ann’s. Is she the one who makes you laugh?

Romney: We fell in love when we were young. She was 16; I was 18. Some people, I’m told, grow apart when they meet very young. We grew together. We share perspectives; we don’t agree on everything, but we see things in a very similar way, and we’re entirely devoted to each other. I would rather be with her than doing anything else on earth.

RD: That’s a love story.

Romney: It’s just the way it is. People ask me why that is. I don’t know why it is. People say, “Well, do you work at it?” and the answer is no. It’s just the way it is.

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