WASHINGTON - Some of Mitt Romney's sons urged him not to run for the White House this year, fearing the intense media glare of months of campaigning and perhaps years of being the nation's first family.
The five sons expressed their concerns during a rare appearance together on a late night comedy show, in which they also tried to present a more human side of their father, who they insisted was an avid prankster.
Josh Romney said the family was "nervous" about the presidential run, adding: "Our lives are pretty good as they are."
"We recognize it's good for the country for our dad to run but not necessarily good for us, so we are going to try and keep our lives as normal, as consistent as they can possibly be over the next few years," he said.
Romney's wife Ann and eldest son Tagg are said to have supported his 2012 run, but others said they had urged against it.
"I didn't want him to do it," Matt Romney said. "I tried to convince him not to. I think there were a few of us who tried that."
"For us as a family, this isn't the best thing. But, as Josh said, for the country we think it's the right thing."
Ben Romney, the only light-haired son and the least public of the five, drew laughs by saying: "As you can probably tell, I really love the limelight."
The sons' appearance on Conan O'Brien's show on the TBS cable network appeared aimed at showing off the lighter side of Romney, a multi-millionaire former venture capitalist who often seems stiff on the campaign trail.
The sons said their father loved practical jokes, saying one of his favorites was to ask them to sniff something that appeared to have gone bad -- like butter or whipped cream -- before shoving it in their faces.
The adult sons -- who share their father's disarmingly wholesome demeanor and prep school appearance -- were an active presence on the trail in 2008, frequently campaigning alongside Romney and running a joint blog.
Romney, who will be formally nominated as the Republican standard-bearer in August, will take on President Barack Obama in the November 6 election following months of heavy campaigning and intense media scrutiny.