TAMPA -- After falling short in his presidential bid in 2008, Mitt Romney was reluctant to try it again and was talked into it by his wife, his eldest son, Tagg Romney, told Ohio's delegation on Wednesday.
Mr. Romney, 42, told the Ohio brunch of about 350 people that in 2006 his father and mother, and their five sons and the sons' wives were unanimous in wanting Mr. Romney to run for president in 2008.
But when the family got together again before this election, at Christmas, 2010, the vote was only three in favor, and Mitt Romney was not one of the "yes" votes.
Tagg Romney said his mother, Ann Romney, asked her husband if he could fix the country's problems if he won.
"He said, 'Yeah, I think that I can.' She said if you can then you don't have a choice, you have to run, it's your duty. If you don't think about what's going to happen to your grandchildren, they aren't going to have as bright a future, and it's not fair to them," Tagg Romney said. "To that he had no counterargument. It was that 'you have a duty.' And so he decided to get in."
Mr. Romney confided to his audience that the "staff doesn't like me telling the story."
The inside family stories followed an effort by Ann Romney, the previous night, in her nationally viewed convention speech to soften the stiff public image of Mr. Romney.
Tagg Romney also told of an incident at the family's vacation cottage on Cape Cod, Mass., when he went fishing and accidentally lost the rowboat anchor because he failed to tie it to the boat.
Rather than just replace the low-cost item, the dad took the son back out on the water -- the Atlantic Ocean, as Tagg Romney reminded his audience -- and they created a grid using trees on the shoreline as visual guides and searched until they found the anchor rope floating on the water's surface.
"It really is true that my dad is the cheapest human being alive. He lives his life this way. It drives him crazy to waste money. I think we need someone in Washington like that," Mr. Romney said.
"The second lesson I learned that day -- I know it sounds corny but it's true: Dad really believes with a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work you can accomplish great things," Tagg Romney said.
"He probably didn't care as much about that anchor as I thought. He wanted me to learn that lesson," Mr. Romney said.
Like his dad, Tagg Romney has five sons. He also has a daughter. Mr. Romney is in business.
Noticing a cousin of his mother in the audience, Leslie Davies, a delegate from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Mr. Romney cracked, "Thank you for being here, for supporting us, even though you know us."
He was one of three high-profile speakers who addressed the Ohio delegation staying at the Mainsail Suites Hotel in Tampa.
The convention, including Ohio's 66 delegates, on Tuesday night elected Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) as its nominees for president and vice president. They will take on Democratic incumbent President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the general election Nov. 6.
Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under former President George W. Bush, endorsed the Republican ticket, but made clear she was not interested in returning to government service.
"We are absolutely at a fork in the road as to whether or not we are going to rebuild the spirt of entrepreneurship and risk-taking that small business brings to the American economy so we can employ people," Ms. Rice said.
She was critical of a foreign policy she said did not send a strong message of America's principles to the world, and that it was "leading from behind."
"When the United States is not feeling strong and confident at home it shows, and we're not feeling strong and confident abroad," Ms. Rice said. "The rebuilding of America here at home and rebuilding of the American voice abroad is right at the heart of what we have to accomplish."
Reince Priebus, national Republican Party chairman, also addressed the brunch event, relating how the American dream inspired his Greek grandfather.
"This President has a problem with the American dream. This President has a problem with success," Mr. Priebus said.
"He's lost his brand, he's not real anymore, he's not who he said he was," Mr. Priebus said. "Juxtapose that with Mitt Romney, a man of his word, a man who's risen to all levels of leadership and success."
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