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Romney says Mormon social restrictions are ‘liberating’

Mitt and Ann Romney appear on the cover of the Dec. 4 edition of PARADE magazine.PARADE

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says his faith’s prohibitions on premarital sex, alcohol consumption, and caffeine use have had a “liberating” effect on his life rather than an inhibiting one.

In a companion interview, his wife reveals his vice: chocolate milk. And when he needs to kickstart his day, he resorts to hot chocolate, she says.

“My view is that the commandments of God — let’s take the Ten Commandments, the basis of all Judeo-Christian faiths — are not so much restricting as liberating,” Mitt Romney said during an interview with PARADE magazine to be published Sunday. “I think being faithful to one’s spouse is a wonderful source of passion and devotion in marriage, and that paying tithes as suggested in the Book of Malachi makes one’s money less important.”

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Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taught to “tithe,” or donate, 10 percent of their income to their Mormon church.

Romney says he has given away 10 percent of his pre-tax income — millions for the former venture capitalist, whose wealth been estimated to be up to $250 million.

Despite his comfortable lifestyle, the former Massachusetts governor says he can relate to Americans struggling through the Great Recession.

“Americans have looked to people like Dwight Eisenhower, F.D.R., and the Kennedys, who all had unusual experiences that were needed for the times they served,” said Romney. “In the US, the very poor are provided a safety net, which must be maintained. The very rich are doing fine. The middle class is suffering. It is for the great majority of Americans, the 90 percent in the middle, that I’m running for president.”

Romney also says his wife, Ann, did not merely support his second White House campaign but was “insistent” about it.

“I was reluctant after 2008 to run again. She was very committed to my doing it and pushed me for six months to a year to proceed,” he said.

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In a companion interview, Ann Romney labels birth control “a personal choice.”

The mother of five sons says: “There’s nothing I love more than children, but as women, we know when enough is enough.”

She said horse riding has helped her cope with multiple sclerosis, and “that everyone in my life recognizes I can’t be off a horse for longer than about two to three weeks, because then they see me actually start to fade.”

Ann Romney said if her husband is elected president, “You are going to see horses at the White House,” along with a flock of grandchildren.

Asked what her husband always needs in the refrigerator, she replied, “Low-fat milk, because he’s a big cereal hound. He loves cold cereal. And caffeine-free Diet Coke.”

As to “something bad” her husband likes to eat or drink, Ann Romney said, “‘Over the Moon Chocolate Milk,’ which is the low-fat kind.”

The interviews are accompanied by a family photo gallery.


Glen Johnson can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.