Here's what hapepned on Ann Romney's visit Thursday to Fort Lauderdale.
Ann Romney toured the Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, read a Dr. Seuss book to a small group of young patients, and met with hospital employees, cancer survivors and Republican dignitaries at the adjacent Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.
Craig Romney was waiting in the room with 14 hospital executives, physicians and other staffers when his mother arrived. She first moved to greet the greeters, but then saw her son: “Hello, how are you. My son, Craig. How are you sweetie?”
After walking down a hall at the children’s hospital with a physician, Ann Romney stopped at a nurse’s station. “You guys must love working with kids. That’s why you’re here. That’s terrific.” She didn’t shake hands.
She then stopped in an activity room with a guitar player and four young patients.
She started reading the Dr. Seuss book, “One fish, two fish, red fish, and blue fish.”
Romney got varying levels of attention from her young audience. One boy, Jacob Kilcrease, 2, wandered around the room, ignoring her. “He needs to move. Let him move. He’s exploring.”
She had the most interaction with Trevor Corsetti, age 4. He laughed when she was reading, and she said, “It’s funny, isn’t it?” She then explained rhyming words. “It makes them sound sort of the same but not the same.”
When she came to a page in the book with hills, Romney explained to the children that “in Florida there’s not many hills. You wouldn’t know what it’s like to ride a bike up a hill.”
Craig Romney, meanwhile, pulled out a smart phone and looked at the screen. (He later said that seeing his mother read to the children reminded him of when she read to him as a boy.)
Ann Romney didn’t finish the book. Before leaving, she spoke individually to the children. “Are you going to get better soon?” she asked Jamar Mack, 8, whose arm was in a sling. He told her he was going home Thursday.
About 200 people were at the Medical Center auditorium, where Craig Romney introduced his mother.
The crowd included many hospital staffers, cancer survivors invited by the hospital and the local Romney campaign, and local people involved in Republican politics.
The North Broward Hospital District, the taxpayer-supported agency that runs both the children’s hospital and the medical center, is run by a Republican board of gubernatorial appointees. But the event wasn’t strongly political; some people wore Romney buttons, but there were no campaign balloons, signs or other paraphernalia.
Among the Republicans on hand: Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca, Broward County Romney Chairman David Di Pietro, honorary Broward County Romney co-chairman Rocky Rodriguez, and Karin Hoffman, founder of the tea party group DC Works For US.
Introducing his mother, Craig Romney repeated an oft-told story on the campaign trail, that Ann Romney said after her husband’s failed 2008 campaign that they’d never be doing that again – but when it came time to decide about the 2012 race, she was strongly in favor of his candidacy.
He described his mother, a survivor of breast cancer and someone with multiple sclerosis, as “such a hero to me.”
Ann Romney spoke for about 10 minutes.
“Family is everything. Family makes the difference in healing,” she said.
“You all know better than anyone how critical it is to have family members part of the healing process.”
She portrayed her husband in a heartwarming way, recalling that when Craig was born Mitt Romney was supposed to videotape the newborn baby (though not the delivery). Later, he confessed, he didn’t have tape in the video camera.
She called the campaign a “family affair,” with each of the couple’s five sons devoting as much time to the campaign as they can.
“This is a family affair. I will tell you that it’s been an honor to be able to come here to see this hospital to see the passion of the people that are working in this hospital. It is the best part of the campaign, is seeing the individual lives, and how people are touching other peoples’ lives in such a caring, loving, compassionate, way. This is what makes the world go round. And it’s been an honor to be able to visit with you today and to see the wonderful things that are going on in this possible. You are part of a very big family, a family of love.”
She described as “extraordinary” her tour of the neonatal intensive care unit – which was wasn’t open to reporters and photographers – where she saw a 1 pound baby and another baby that was born at 1 pound but going home Thursday after six months in the hospital.
“I knew neonatal care had come a long way. I had no idea that you were saving the lives of these precious little children in such a great way.
“Mitt and I are touched by lives, personal lives, everywhere we go. We are touched by the goodness of the American people. We’re touched by the ingenuity, the inventiveness, and especially in the medical field. We are so impressed with what is going on to make lives better….
“People come here from all over the world as you know to come here for our medicine and our health, so this is a great country, a country that we love, that we all share now in the benefits of living in this wonderful, wonderful country. And so we’re out there working very hard and hoping that we can improve peoples’ lives as well. So we are very grateful for your staff, for your doctors, nurses, all the people who have made this visit of mine a special one.”
Afterward, Romney shook hands and posed for smart phone pictures with many of those present.
She hugged Sally Southmayd, 69, of Hollywood, Fla.
Southmayd’s son David and Romney’s son Tag attended the Belmont Hill School in Massachusetts together during the 1980s and the two worked together on school activities.
Southmayd described herself as a “big time supporter” of Mitt Romney.
“I just loved them from the beginning. They are just wonderful people. He will do everything he says he is going to do.
“They have done just so many good deeds that nobody knows about.
“This country needs this man. No doubt about it.
Denise Wittich, 50, of Fort Lauderdale, a breast cancer survivor, had a picture taken with Romney.
“She seems like a very nice person,” Wittich said. She said she supports the Republican presidential candidate. “I hope the Romneys get in office,” she said, emphasizing her desire to see both Mitt and Ann Romney in the White House.
Earlier, Romney was in Sarasota for a campaign finance event for U.S. Rep. Connie Mack’s U.S. Senate campaign. After the events at the hospital she did interviews with local television stations and was scheduled to leave for Grand Rapids, Mich., to watch the vice presidential debate.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun