Washington (CNN) – In a candid and personal interview, Ann Romney tells CNN her husband's debate routine includes paying homage every time to a very important person in his life, his father, the former Michigan governor, George Romney.
Ann Romney tells CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger that "as soon as he gets on stage...he takes off his watch and puts it on the podium...then he writes 'Dad' on the piece of paper," at which point she becomes emotional because the elder Romney was a strong influence in both her and husband's lives.
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"And that's amazing, because he loves his dad, respects his Dad. Doesn't want to do anything that would not make his father proud... I love the fact that Mitt does that. So he writes that."
But there is more to the routine, she says. "And then he looks in the audience and he finds me. He has to find where I am. And– he just– he needs just that connection. And almost after every answer that he gives, he'll find me in the audience, to see, 'Was that good? Was that okay?'"
The full interview will run in the 7 p.m. ET hour on CNN Wednesday.
In the interview, Mrs. Romney says she tries to fill the role in the lead-up to the debates and during them that her family has dubbed for her: "the Mitt Stabilizer."
"I'm there for him. We're there for each other emotionally all the time. In the last 20 debates that we did in the primary– I felt that was my most important role."
Even on stage, she tells CNN, "there's an emotional connection that's happening between the two of us during the debate itself."
While the Republican nominee is getting plenty of advice from all corners, she tells Borger her advice to him is for him to be himself.
"He has to feel what he's gotta say, when he's gotta say it. He's gotta listen to his own instincts. And of course it's– he's gonna be getting a lot of advice. But he's gotta listen to his own instincts more than anyone else's and trust that."