Could Welsh miner’s granddaughter Ann Romney be next US First Lady?

SHE is the granddaughter of a coal miner, the second cousin of a Welsh rugby star – and now Ann Romney could be next First Lady of the United States.

Mitt Romney’s wife has moved one step closer to the White House after her husband’s victory in the Texas primary confirmed his position as the Republican candidate for next year’s presidential election.

Mr Romney’s easy victory in Tuesday’s primary means he is now the first Mormon to lead one of America’s two largest parties in a presidential election.

The multi-millionaire has endured a gruelling selection battle, although the most recent opinion polls suggest he is just two percentage points behind Mr Obama.

But despite her fight facing her husband, the final stages of the campaign will focus new attention on Mrs Romney.

She is already one of the most famous Welsh-Americans and a case-study in the American Dream.

Mitt Romney

Her grandfather, David Davies, was a miner, from Nantyffyllon, near Maesteg, who worked at the Coegnant Colliery.

He lost a kidney when crushed by a coal cart and moved to Detroit in 1929, where he found work in the car industry and was soon joined by his wife, Annie, and his son, Edward.

The boy went on to study at the General Motors Institute of Technology in Flint, Michigan and founded Jered Industries in 1946.

The entrepreneur worked on the Gemini space programme and settled in Detroit’s affluent Bloomfield Hills, where his 15-year-old daughter started dating an 18-year-old Mr Romney.

Mr Romney’s success in the Texas primary contest was welcomed in Porthcawl by his wife’s second cousin, 77-year-old former British Lions player Roddy Evans.

He said: “They are lovely people and they deserve to succeed – totally unspoilt, totally humble. They are great friendly people.”

The family is upbeat about his chances of a Romney victory in November.

Mr Evans said: “We had a note from Ann fairly recently and they were very optimistic.”

He is not surprised that his cousin’s husband is following in his father’s footsteps and pursuing presidential ambitions. The candidate’s father, former Michigan governor George Romney, ran for the Republican nomination in 1968.

“He’s a man with politics in his blood and obviously a great respecter of his father,” he said.

“He became the governor of Massachusetts. Everybody thought he wouldn’t get that and he got it by a mile.”

He looks forward to jumping on a plane if Mr Romney wins the keys to the Oval Office, and is also excited about the impact in Wales.

He said: “It would be an extraordinary event for Nantyffyllon if that happened. It tickled me pink just to think about it.”

The Romneys are regular visitors to South Wales and their close friendship spans decades.

Mr Evans said: “I can remember we were down in Florida and Ann and Mitt discovered we were there and they got on a plane and flew down for lunch.”

He describes Mrs Romney as “just a lovely Welsh girl” and his son, 49-year-old Porthcawl-based artist Bas Evans, also holds the family in affection.

The wildlife painter hopes Mr Romney will win because he is “the right man for the job”.

He said: “He’s an impressive man but the first impression is he’s a family man – a lot of fun, very warm. Ann’s a fantastic character, down to earth.”

The artist admires this commitment to family, adding: “Keeping the family in high business or high politics shows a mark of character.”

He lived for three months with Mrs Romney’s parents and is close friends with the eldest of her sons, Tagg, who recently became a father to twins.

Mr Evans is keen to visit the United States to see the campaign up close, and confident that Mr Romney has what it takes to become commander in chief.

He said: “It wouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise but he’s the kind of guy who steps up to the mark and America has massive issues to deal with; so do we in the UK and Europe. It certainly takes a certain type of man to step up to the mark.”

Mrs Romney is known for her pride in her Welsh heritage. Her youngest son, Craig, has sported a black backpack with a red dragon and Tagg has said his mother can “still speak some Welsh that she learned from her grandmother”.

She has won praise for the Welsh cakes, made according to her grandmother’s recipe, which she has handed out on the campaign bus but it will take more than a charm offensive to persuade American voters to eject Mr Obama from the White House.

Mr Romney must demonstrate that he has a robust plan to boost employment and increase job security in the recession-battered superpower.

Mrs Romney has said she feels only “a step away” from Wales but it will take a mighty leap for this family to complete its journey to the White House.


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