Pausing briefly between speeches, campaign appearances and ceremonies, Colleen Bangerter sat in the parlor of the stately Governor's Mansion and talked about the things she'd like to accomplish when - not if - her husband is re-elected.
Though Norman Bangerter continues to trail opponent Ted Wilson in the polls, his wife totes a convincing sense of optimism as she travels the state on their behalf."I feel good about the campaign. It's coming. I think things will turn around. It's a tough race, but I hope to be in this house for four more years," said the woman, who during the past 31/2 years has kept patriotism and parenthood in vogue in Utah. "I feel very strongly that my husband needs to continue the programs he's initiated. He's a good, honest man, and we need him for another four years."
The sunny blonde, with a smile that gives new emphasis to the word "energetic," has been an active first lady. In fact, her zeal for community service has her attacking such tough issues as teenage pregnancy, drug prevention and child abuse.
She's honorary chairwoman of both the Utah Federation for Drug Free Youth and the Chapter for the Prevention of Child Abuse. But unlike other celebrities, her involvement has meant more than lending her name to a good cause.
Concerned about the increase in child-abuse cases in Utah, she personally lobbied the Legislature this year during the last hours to ensure a bill addressing the problem was passed.
Beneath the well-groomed surface is a woman who does her homework and, when necessary, is ready for combat.
"I feel very strongly about those issues. Young people are our future, and we have to ensure that future for our next generation," she said. "I am going to do all I can to make sure they have a good education and safe future."
Those issues, plus the Utah illiteracy problem, are high on her agenda for the next four years. But always they'll take a back seat to Norm Bangerter.
"Support for my husband is my No. 1 priority. He comes first."
Colleen Monson married Norm Bangerter right out of high school, and a week later he received orders from Uncle Sam to report to the 39th Parallel in Korea.
"He likes to tell the story that when they heard him coming they immediately signed the armistice," she said, a rosy glow dusting her cheeks.
In "confidence" Mrs. Bangerter will admit they married too young, and that his departure was really a good thing "because we grew up a little bit, and I had an opportunity to work (as secretary for the president of Beneficial Life) and gain a little more experience. It was good . . . but it was hard."
There've been tough challenges since - like building a construction business, rearing six children and a Navajo foster son. And politics.
The decision to run for governor was a family one - one that has totally changed the life of the family.
Life for the Bangerters, however exciting, lacks privacy - a priceless commodity that many could-be gubernatorial candidates are not willing to sacrifice.
The Bangerter's home is owned by and open to the people of Utah. The governor is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. "almost daily without exception." His wife, likewise. The Bangerters attend many functions together, but quiet moments alone - without security guards and staff - are few.
A dream come true for a young girl who was reared in Magna and married a man she met at a high school baseball game? She laughs at the notion.
"I was a homebody. I loved being at home with my children and being involved in community projects, particularly those that involved children," she said. "I never had to work but part time. This has been a whole new education for me - one that has been an honor and privilege, a marvelous experience that I'll always cherish and never forget - and hopefully will have for another four years."
What if Norm Bangerter isn't re-elected?
"If not, I will continue to be involved in those issues I feel strongly about," she said. "I have come to the realization that it's important, particularly for women, to become involved in some of these programs that make a difference to our women and children in the state.
"I feel strongly about that."