Ann Romney on Importance of Michigan Primary

This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert," January 14, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HEATHER NAUERT, CO-HOST: It's Michigan's turn to be in the spotlight with GOP hopefuls vying for the top spot in tomorrow's primary. And Mitt Romney says that he expects to win in that state. The candidate is neck in neck with Republican John McCain in Michigan, that's according to the latest polls. Mitt Romney, who grew up in the state and whose father was once Michigan's governor is banking on a home field advantage.

Today, the candidates are focusing on the state's struggling economy:


MITT ROMNEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I am president, I will not rest until Michigan has come back. Washington politicians look at Michigan, they see the Rust Belt. But the real rust is in Washington. The pessimists are wrong. The auto industry and all its jobs do not have to be loss. And I am one man who will work to transform the industry and save those jobs.


JOHN GIBSON, CO-HOST: So, can Mitt Romney pull off his first primary win in Michigan? Mitt Romney's wife, Ann Romney joins us now from an exclusive interview live from the Detroit Auto Show. Ann, welcome and thank you very much for coming on. So, just a general sense of things, it appears Mitt is in the lead or very close to it. Do you have a good feeling about this primary?

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: Well, you know, you get a sense when you're here. You feel momentum building and you feel the frustration of a lot of the voters here about the economy, and Mitt's message on economy and having his commitment to trying to turn around Michigan, I think is resonating. I really feel the momentum is going our way.

NAUERT: Are you getting a different feeling standing on the ground in Michigan than you got in Iowa and New Hampshire when you're talking to voters?

A. ROMNEY: Well, you know, to tell the truth, we have a lot of support both in Iowa and New Hampshire. As you know, we did very well in both of those states. We didn't end up number one but we ended up number two and a very strong number two in New Hampshire. So, yes, you get a sense, again. Here I have a very good sense about Michigan. And you know, it's not just Mitt's home state. It's my home state as well. I feel like you know, our roots go very deep here and Mitt's father's legacy is extraordinary here beyond the fact that he was an amazing governor. I think people really respected him as a human being as well.

GIBSON: Ann, I know it's crunch time. Mitt's Michigan strategy, if there is no win, how long will he stay in the race?

A. ROMNEY: We're in through February 5th for sure. You know, this is -- it's a multi-state strategy. There are 50 states and you know we're doing well in almost every contest we've been in, and, you know, even -- we will see what will happen, but this is not the end for us, if we have to just keep pushing on. And Mitt's message is resonating. We're getting to know more and more voters. And off we go.

NAUERT: Let me ask you. Since Democrats don't really have a race there, we've heard that some are encouraging Democrats to vote for Romney to try to create disarray in the Republican Party. What's your reaction to that?

A. ROMNEY: That would be nice!

NAUERT: Well, because your husband could end up being the beneficiary of that, of course, but just the notion that Democrats want get involve and muck up the process for Republicans, what do you make of that?

A. ROMNEY: Well, that's interesting. I doubt there's much of that going on, but you know, you never know. There's always sort of this a little bit of this and that going on in every primary. The changes and dynamic and that's why it's such a fluid moving target. I mean, anything can happen in these races. I mean, they're close and people are competitive and everyone's you know, fighting for every square inch, and so, any little thing like that obviously is important, but listen, I would hope that the Democrats would switch over and vote for Mitt for the right reasons, which would be because he really does care about Michigan and trying to turn around the economy here. So, that would be a good thing for us.

GIBSON: Ann, I got to ask you this, and this may strike a little close to home, but we all know that Mitt has made a lot of money in the corporate world and he is spending some of his own money here. How do you feel about the family's cash going into this campaign?

A. ROMNEY: You know, I'm fine about it. The boys are fine about it. You know, Mitt's worked hard all of his life and he's done his job very well, and we have absolutely not a single issue with it. We're fine with that.

NAUERT: Some Republicans out there have been concerned about changes that he's made in his positions over the years on gay marriage, on abortion, even immigration. And some people are just concerned that he is not Conservative enough. So, what do you say to those voters who have those concerns?

A. ROMNEY: You know, and that's our opponents trying to define Mitt in such a way that's very upsetting to me. He has changed on one thing and that was pro-life before and he decided the government should not be involved in choice for abortions. When he became governor, he realized he could not put a pen to paper and sign a bill that would have created new human life for experimentation, and that's when he said I have got to be pro-life. It was not a personal change for him. It was a change as to whether government should be involved. So, people can try to demonize Mitt and say, you know, he's doing this and that and changing. He has just wonderful integrity and character and it's very offensive to me for people to say he's changing positions on all these different issues, which he has not.

NAUERT: OK. Ann Romney, we're going to leave it there. Best of luck tomorrow and we will all be watching for it. Thank you so much.

A. ROMNEY: Thank you.

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