(CNN) – Stepping away from the intricacies and attacks that have dominated the 2012 campaign season, the candidates spoke in interviews aired Sunday in more broad terms of leadership qualities, past presidents' legacies and how they unwind amid the whirlwind race for the White House.
President Barack Obama told CBS News that he is a night owl. While his wife and two daughters retire earlier for the evening, the president stays awake, perched on the Truman balcony to read, write and reflect into the early hours of the morning, he said.
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As for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, he said he prays every night before bed around 10 p.m., after speaking with his wife Ann, who's often elsewhere on the trail, for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Romney, who until recently has steered away from discussing his faith on the campaign trail, said his prayers are a private matter but he mostly prays for wisdom and understanding.
"I seek to understand things that I don't understand," said Romney in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes."
The two candidates were asked to describe the essential qualities of a leader as well as admirable qualities of past presidents.
Obama said leadership "more than anything is about setting a course and describing a vision for people." He added that vision "isn't always realized immediately," pointing to the legacy bore from Abraham Lincoln's vision of a single union requiring the sacrifice of the bloody Civil War.
Romney noted John Adams as a person with "extraordinary character" and "a relationship with his spouse who may have been even brighter than he."
"We saw in him an individual who was less concerned about public opinion than he was about doing what he thought was right for the country," said Romney. "And even though he was defeated in his run for reelection, he did what he thought was right for America. And I respect that kind of character."
Romney said an essential quality of a leader is the "capacity to build trust in the people he or she works with."
For his part, Obama said persistence is a quality he admires in the history of presidents.
"Being able to plow through, being able to stay buoyant in the face of challenges," said the incumbent, facing a barrage of attacks for what critics bill as a less-than-stellar first term, laden with stagnant unemployment numbers and a still-ailing economy.
"I think that's a characteristic of the American people and I think our best presidents are able to tap into that resilience and that strength and that grit and be inspired by it."
Asked what he'd like to ultimately be known for if succeeds in his bid for the White House, Romney said his big idea, his message to the American people, is to foster the kind of freedom that has allowed the United States to lead the world.
"I want to restore the kind of freedom that has always driven America's economy. And that's allowed us to be the shining city on the hill," said Romney. "The kind of freedom that has brought people here from all over the world. I want people to come here, legally, to want to be here. I want the best and brightest to say America's the place of opportunity, because of the freedom there to pursue your dreams."
Meanwhile Obama, who has faced criticism for an administration devoid of 'big ideas,' said his central purpose is to rekindle the American idea that if people work hard, in America they can flourish.
"I think what Americans properly are focused on right now are just the bread and butter basics of making sure our economy works for working people," said Obama. "And if we can accomplish that, there's no bigger idea than that. That's the idea that has attracted people to our shores for generations."
Just curios as to which "God" Romney prays to: The One God, Allah, of the Christians, Jews and Muslims or the god off on some fabricated planet with his wives?
Mittens is running on his failed record as governor of MA. 47th in job creation, $2.6 billion added the the MA debt, MA government jobs outsourced to India, and over 700 increases in taxes. Look at the polls in MA, and you get an idea that Romney was not a good governor and would make a worse president. Mittens is down 20 points to Obama.
I'd like to know from Romney which freedoms have been curtailed. Really, Romney, which freedoms have been restrcited by the current administration? I don't think that regulations that help keep the air, water and ground clean as restrictions in freedom. When it comes to protections of workers (on the job safety and ability tp organize labor among others), how can these things be bad?
Interesting that Romney speaks of freedoms while his party is trying hard to curtail the freedoms of so many people – women, immigrants and the LGBT community, to name only a few.
Interesting that he speaks of freedoms for the best and the brightest to live, study and work here while his party seeks to cut back on financial aid and money for scientific research while denying the very truth of basic science.
Many of the best and brightest scientists that I know are planning to leave if he should be elected.
It's easy to tell which candidate is lying.
Yeah I guess been normal person is kool thanks Mr President Obama keep your head up smile,go get a nice triple cheese burger with sweet potato fries,and french vanilla ice cream with a nice cream root beer soda pop.
Obama forgot to mention the ocasional golf outing that helps him to relax or the late night talk shows that he loves to go on and shine his big white smile at people. enough said.
Romney, "he said he prays every night before bed around 10 p.m., he mostly prays for wisdom and understanding. How is that working for you? Romney said an essential quality of a leader is the "capacity to build trust in the people he or she works with." Then if that's the case, we are still waiting to see your taxes . . . exactly what are you hiding, what is in those taxes that you don't want the American people to see. Talk about trust and loyalty. Mr. Romney all of that trust and loyalty, comes from the top down.
Uh – Mitt - your prayers aren't working. WISDOM??? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Early-onset dementia is not wisdom. And controlling all the people of the world (they White Horse Prophesy) is not understanding.
The President said he likes to read, write and reflect into the early hours of the morning. So he is WORKING even after hours to understand and find solutions. It shows – he is smart, classy and does deal with important issues every day – multitasking!
Romney said he prays every night before bed around 10 p.m. and he asks mostly for wisdom and understanding. So, he does not like to work in the evening, needs his sleep and leaves it to God to do his thinking. Looking at the result – God does not work as Romney’s personal servant and spoon-feeds him with understanding and wisdom during the night!! So, what is Romney going to do next? Blame God?
Registered? Got your voter ID ready? Well, then let’s have some fun in November!!!!
Before we can have "bread and butter" politics, we ought to be able to afford the bread and butter.
Romney doesn't want to lead the world - he wants to CONTROL the world. Read "the White Horse Prophesy" if you don't believe me. I dare you. It was written by Mormons decades ago about how to control the entire world and make everyone Mormon. Maybe that's why he baptized Hitler decades after his death.