LA JOLLA, CA—Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said Monday that despite her husband's public image as a shameless opportunist with no convictions whatsoever, in private he displays a rare principled side that most people never get to see.

In a casual conversation with reporters at the couple's oceanfront home in California, Romney said her husband's many months on the campaign trail had caused some voters to develop a distorted view of her longtime partner, who she said actually possesses numerous core beliefs and ethical values when relaxing in the company of close friends and family.

"Sure, on TV, Mitt might seem like a shameless opportunist who stands for absolutely nothing, but at home he's actually just an ordinary guy with a decent sense of morality," Romney said of her partner of 43 years. "I've known this man almost my whole life, and I can tell you that, off camera, there are just so many things he cares about in a completely non-politically-motivated way."

"I realize in debates and interviews he comes off as this completely amoral corporatist who couldn't be more out of touch with average Americans—heck, sometimes even I roll my eyes," Romney continued with a chuckle. "But when he's out of the spotlight and just hanging out with me or his grandkids, enjoying the weekend, you'd be amazed. To us, he's just regular old person-with-genuine-moral-convictions Mitt."

Romney told reporters she has repeatedly urged her husband to "loosen up" and give voters a glimpse of the integrity she sees every single day. But despite her best efforts, she said, she still has some work to do.

"I tell him, 'Everyone thinks you're a shallow and merciless prick with no real center and no interest in anything other than using other people's money to make money for yourself,'" said Romney, adding that just throwing in an offhand principled stance during an interview could do wonders for him. "But, in the end, I guess he is who he is. You're just going to have to believe me when I say that the fuddy-duddy in the suit you see pandering to absolutely anyone to win an election is pretty much nonstop commitment to heartfelt, conscientious ideals around the house."

"I just wish your readers could sit at our dinner table," Romney added. "Then you'd see the Mitt who's really concerned about the health care system, immigration reform, and the stagnant economy. That's my Mitt."

When reached for comment by reporters, Mitt Romney smiled uncomfortably and said, "Boy, my wife's a remarkable woman, isn't she?"