By Maria Peña.
Craig Romney, the youngest son of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said here Tuesday in an interview with Efe that his father is not the out-of-touch figure painted by his opponents, but a "man of faith, a family man" who seeks to strengthen the American dream.
"It's obviously hard to listen to someone criticize your father but I know what kind of person my father is...he's a man of integrity, of character, he's a man of faith, a family man, and the reason why he's in this campaign is because he wants to help," 31-year-old Craig Romney said in Spanish.
"He believes the American dream is in danger of being lost and has a plan to restore it and make our economy strong and our schools successful," Romney said.
In the interview, given while Craig was taking a break from activities at the Republican National Convention, he reflected on the demands of the campaign on the Romney clan as a whole.
Despite having to be away from his wife and two children, Craig said it was a privilege to represent his father around the United States, where he has had numerous meetings with Hispanic voters in states like Florida and California, and has heard about "the things they're suffering," in particular the joblessness.
Craig, who learned to speak Spanish during the two years he spent as a Mormon missionary in Chile, said that he enjoys Latin culture and confessed to a particular weakness for Cuban food.
"There's a lot of Cuban food in Florida and I love it," he said.
For Craig, his father's goal at this week's convention in Tampa is to present his true self directly and without filters, while explaining his beliefs and his vision for the country's future.
"He's a good-humored man who loves to spend time with the family. I think voters will get to know him better this Thursday when he gives his speech," Craig said.
Asked about Hispanic voters' reluctance to vote for Republicans, Craig said that his father understands that Latinos "want the same opportunities that everybody in the United States wants" and for that reason "he has a plan" to strengthen the economy.
If Mitt Romney has always been successful in the private sector, on a personal level the biggest challenge for the family undoubtedly came when his wife, who will address the GOP convention Tuesday night, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
"It's been a tough experience for our family, and for my dad in particular, but my mom is a fighter and is struggling against the disease," said Craig, who considers her the rock of the family.
Mitt Romney met Anne when they were both 17 and still in high school. They married in 1969 and, according to Craig, he's "still very much in love" with her.
As proof that his father doesn't avoid problems, Craig cited the case in 1999 when Mitt took the reins of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which were facing financial disaster.
"He found a way to save the Olympic Games, just as he saved businessmen who were in trouble, just as he saved the state of Massachusetts, and he has the experience to do it for our country as well," he said.
Craig expressed great admiration for his late grandfather, Mexican-born George Romney, who rose to become CEO of the American Motors Corporation, governor of Michigan and a contender for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination.
"He spoke a lot about his experiences in Mexico. I admire my grandfather a lot because he came with nothing, he came to this country without education, without a job and came to be a great man who really lived the American dream. EFE