It's so much more chill being Ann Romney when your husband isn't a presidential candidate.
“You don't worry about the consequences or people attacking you and you can just be more open, not so worried,” she said during an interview with IJ.com last week about the difference between talking publicly now versus in the middle of a campaign:
“You can be spontaneous.”
Like that time she put on a sweatshirt and sideways hat to walk out at the charity boxing match in Salt Lake City in May. Spontaneous.
It was a last minute decision that ended up being one of the most viral moments of the night.
In the heat of a campaign, that sort of thing could have caused a firestorm. Imagine the reaction spawned by Taylor Swift wearing a similar outfit in her “Shake It Off” music video, and multiply it by a hundred.
But now, the Romney crew can have fun. They can do charity boxing matches, Mitt can be in a “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” ad where he asks where the free pancakes are, and Ann can pose with a Kanye 2020 sweater...
... and destroy a red solo cup mountain with a light saber.
Romney's new book, In This Together, whose proceeds go towards neurological research, also has moments that could have played out differently during a campaign.
An anecdote about one of her sons sleepwalking into her and Mitt's room when he was four and peeing on their bed could have morphed into political cartoon fodder, and she writes frankly about her faith as well as about learning her mother considered aborting her:
“She said, 'Oh my gosh, how close I came.'”
At the last minute, she didn't.
After filming a scene where candy was thrown behind her, Romney knelt down to help pick up the mess before the rest of the IJ.com film crew let her know that no, Mrs. Romney, you don't need to do that, we got it.
During campaigns, spouses and families remind voters that focus-group-tested candidates are indeed actually human, but the ulterior motive of a looming election can make the family photo-ops and testimonials suspect.
But Romney doesn't have an upcoming election she's trying to impress voters for.
She'll still be involved in politics, even if her husband isn't running for president. She plans to campaign for some Senate races, mentioning Kelly Ayotte and Rob Portman, specifically, and said about the 2016 campaign:
“what's happening is stunning.”
“I think people want someone to come in with a wrecking ball,” she said. But it will mostly be her husband on the stump campaigning for candidates.
She writes about her battle with multiple sclerosis and the support her husband, family, and close circle of friends gave her both physically and emotionally, not to “soften” an image, but to share her experiences.