Image: Mitt and Ann Romney
Brian Snyder  /  Reuters
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney hugs his wife Ann as they hear him declared the winner of the Florida primary by television networks in Tampa.
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updated 2/22/2012 12:03:27 PM ET 2012-02-22T17:03:27

Making her pitch for Mitt Romney's candidacy during stops in conservative corners of Michigan, Ann Romney said Tuesday that her husband was a “little reluctant” about running for president in 2012.

“Mitt was a little reluctant. And when we were making this decision, I thought to myself, you know what? This country is in so much trouble,” Ann said to about 200 Republicans gathered at a GOP luncheon here in Hudsonville.

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The remarks reflect just how involved Ann seems to have been in her husband’s decision to run — and the toll that losing the battle for the GOP nomination in 2008 may have had on him.

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They also offer a window into how one political spouse coaches a politician commonly viewed as remote in his interactions on the campaign trail.

“It wouldn’t be worth it at all if we just went in there, and we just shuffle the chairs around,” Ann recalled advising her husband of his plan to pursue the presidency. “I’m not in for that. I’m in for, you’re going to go in there, and you’re going to knock heads.”

The tough talk won polite applause at the luncheon.

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Later, Ann Romney returned to softer themes common to her stump speeches, including her husband’s sensitivity and care when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998.

The message seemed to fill a picture of Romney that some said had been missing.

“I think she, as a woman, as a wife,” said voter Jane Jelgerhuis about Ann, “made the case for her husband that was probably more effective than anything I’ve heard him say.”

Earlier Tuesday, Ann visited a diner in Battle Creek where she pledged that the state of Michigan — where she and Romney grew up — would be “foremost” in their minds.

“We care very much about the people here. We care very much about jobs, and job creation here,” said Ann.

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