TODAY | October 11, 2012
>>> this morning on "today" on the trail, up close and personal with two influential women hoping to occupy the white house for the next four years. first lady michelle obama and ann romney . rosemary ellis recently spent some time with these remarkable women . rosemary, good morning.
>> good morning.
>> now "good housekeeping" is not a political magazine. but this is something you've done in the past for your readers. they want to know who these women are.
>> that's right. 1 in 5 american women read "good housekeeping," a favorite magazine of teachers. these are women who care about the issues in this election and they vote.
>> and you sat with each of the ladies for more than an hour, as i understand, was any topic off limits?
>> mrs. obama's campaign didn't stipulate any topics off limit, mrs. romney 's campaign said not to ask politic questions, but she did answer them.
>> the last election around, several times since then. is there anything that surprises you about her?
>> she's an amazing woman. she's so passionate and caring about the issues. she's whip smart. and she never ceases to to impress me how she doesn't talk in sound bites . she refuses to answer with over simplistic answers. she really gets into the meat of what she's talking about. and as a reader and journalist, i appreciate that.
>> very passionate, that is clear. now, what did you get in terms of something new. some insight into her relationship with the president and their marriage?
>> you know, really interesting. first of all, they work out together every morning. she goes in earlier, she said, because she has to do hair and make-up. but they do that together. and she also talked about something that was really surprising to me. you know, she sort of seems like the sunnier one and he seems like mr. serious. she said, in fact, he is the optimist in the relationship. and he has taught her in the course of their marriage to not worry, to be able to shake, you know, the trials of a day off and keep your eye on the prize . she called him my steady compass. and it's a really sweet insight into how they lean on each other in a very good way in their marriage.
>> very interesting. and i think another thing that was interesting, as well, leaning on a compass, it seems like mrs. romney and mrs. obama both really are spiritual. and they look to a higher source, right?
>> yeah. what became clear in these interviews, they both prayed daily. in different ways, but michelle obama said you can't be in this job and not lean on a higher power . as she talked about how she invokes that with daily prayer and how they pray at meal time with their kids. and ann romney talked about how she prays while she's working out in the morning.
>> mrs. romney , i understand this is your first time meeting her. i've interviewed her, as well. what did you think about her? first impression?
>> you know, she's lovely. she's warm and honestly she's more open than a lot of political wives or candidates that i've interviewed in the past, which i really appreciated. and i know "good housekeeping" readers will appreciate it.
>> she brought you to tears.
>> she was talking about the early days when she found out she had a mass -- before it was over, i had a few tears in my eyes too. she was very sympathetic and warm.
>> i think she had a little revelation in terms of revealing something new about her husband we maybe did not know. what was that?
>> yes, it was interesting. first, this is a big surprise because i asked the question any woman in america could answer. you know, if you could change one thing about your husband, what would it be? and at first she said, nothing, i would change nothing. and i looked at her like, you're kidding, right? she talked about how he had to really learn to curb his temper when their kids were little and how he could flare up and he's learned to control that. and i said that is a side of mitt romney , mitt romney 's a management consultant , he's buttoned up, and we don't see that. i was surprised about that.
>> if you could, what is the most profound thought that each of the women communicated during their interviews?
>> ann romney talked a lot about what a strength her marriage was to her. how mitt romney said to her when she was diagnosed with m.s. and she was in a deep depression that he didn't care if she made dinner, they could have cereal and toast as long as they were together. and michelle obama , you know, when she talks about the issue she cares about, you know, making sure that everyone has health care , making sure kids get nutritious meals. making sure that women have access to equal pay and work opportunities. it's really moving to hear her talk about the issues because it's so clear that she cares about them deeply.
>> rosemary ellis, great issue of "housekeeping" magazine.