Whoopi Goldberg barely let Ann Romney settle into her seat on ABC's "The View" before pouncing on the first lady hopeful, asking why Mitt Romney didn't serve in Vietnam and if the couple is prepared to console families of fallen soldiers if voted into the White House.
Unlike a recent joint appearance on the show by President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during which questioning ranged from how romantic is the president to the couple's anniversary, the show's five hosts skipped the softball questions and got right into red meat — including military service, abortion and the Romneys' Mormon faith.
When the Obamas' appearance aired on Sept. 25, the panel stuck to questions about the First Couple's 20th wedding anniversary and whether or not President Obama is "romantic," though they did query Obama lightly about the murder of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, which the president declined to characterize at the time as an act of terrorism.
Romney, 63, clad in a red dress and gold jewelry, was initially scheduled to appear with her husband, who backed out citing a scheduling conflict, according to host Barbara Walters. But his wife deftly deflected her husband's description of the female klatch as "sharp-tongued," saying the candidate called the women "sharp and young." Moments later, Goldberg asked Romney if her husband's Mormon faith precluded him or their five sons from serving in the military and whether the Romneys would be prepared to console relatives of fallen U.S. soldiers. Many Mormons serve in the military and the faith does not bar them from doing so.
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“He was serving his mission and my five sons also served [on] missions,” Ann Romney replied. “We find different ways of serving.”
Asked how she would explain to relatives of the fallen soldiers that her sons did not serve in the U.S. military, she continued, "I would say it’s the hardest thing that a president and a first lady can do. We have the most extraordinary fighting men and women and we have to be grateful for them.”
Walters grilled Romney on abortion, and stem cell research, but noted she is not the one running for office.
“I am pro-life and I’m happy to say that,” said Ann Romney when asked by Walters if her thoughts on the issue changed like her husband of 43 years. “When a decision came across his desk to use embryos for experimentation, he could not have, on his conscience, created human life for experimentation.
“The most important thing we can do is have respect for each other in this dialogue. This is a tender, tender issue.”
Following Walters’ initial question on abortion, co-host Joy Behar asked Ann Romney about women’s access to contraception, prompting Romney to say: “I would love if you could get my husband on the couch, Joy.”
Romney continued: “What I know is I am here to reflect the character of the person I know. Every decision he will make … [will be based on] is this is the best thing for America to go forward? I think I know where his heart is.”
Romney’s appearance was part of the show’s “Red, White and View” campaign, which highlights political topics and has made the show into an unexpected daytime battleground with the election less than three weeks away.
The interview then took a lighter turn, as co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked Romney’s son, Josh, who was sitting in the studio audience, if he had any political aspirations. He does not, he said, and added it was difficult seeing his father go through the rigorous election season. Josh Romney also downplayed reports that his brother Tagg told a radio host that he wanted to “take a swing” at President Obama.
“It’s hard in this process to see your Dad get beat up,” Josh Romney said. “So you take it pretty personally. I assure you [Tagg] didn’t mean it.”
Along with first lady Michelle Obama, President Obama appeared on “The View” last month, saying the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya “wasn’t just a mob action” and warned people to ignore the “terribly offensive” anti-Islamic video that sparked unrest throughout the Middle East.
“That's why we can't let down our guard when it comes to the intelligence work that we do and staying on top of not just Al Qaeda, the traditional Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but all these various fringe groups that have started to develop,” Obama said in an interview that aired on Sept. 25. “You know, the tragedy is that Chris Stevens, the ambassador who was killed there, was actually somebody who was beloved by many Libyans. He's one of the people who helped to guide our policy as we liberated Libya and got rid of Qaddafi, who had murdered not only Libyans, but also Americans.”
That remark followed some lighter moments in the interview, including questions about the couple’s 20th wedding anniversary and whether the commander-in-chief is a “romantic” husband.
“He's really good,” Michelle Obama said. “Actually, our — he tells this story, so I'm going to tell it. Our first wedding anniversary, I totally forgot. I totally forgot about it because it was on the weekend and he said, ‘Well, what are we going to do on Saturday?’ I was like, ‘What's Saturday?’ And it was our anniversary and I forgot.”
Host Barbara Walters also asked Michelle Obama to describe her husband’s personality, saying she wanted to compare descriptions of the president by some as “aloof, cold [and] unemotional.”
“No, no, no,” Michelle Obama replied. “He's very — he's very loving. He's very giving. He's very open. He's funny. I'm funnier.”
Obama’s appearance on the popular daytime talk show came as world leaders convened for the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He was criticized for making time for the appearance but not hosting meetings with world leaders at the United Nations, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I miss teaching,” Obama said when asked about his post-White House plans. “And, you know, I'm not sure it would necessarily be in a classroom, but the idea of being able to go around in various cities and helping to create mentorships and apprenticeships and just giving young people the sense of possibility. Something along those lines I think I'd really enjoy doing.”