The best person to talk about Mitt Romney the man, is not Mitt Romney the man. It’s his wife, Ann.
And that’s exactly what she did. Speaking in prime time on the first night of the Republican National Convention, Ann Romney tried to do what her husband has had a hard time doing for months: humanize the GOP candidate for president.
“I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a 'storybook marriage,' " she said on Tuesday night. “Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or Breast Cancer. A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.”
The campaign is certainly hoping that by painting a fuller picture of her husband, Ann Romney can help the former Massachusetts governor with his likability. In an ABC News/Washington Post survey in April, Ann Romney scored 5 percentage points higher than her husband in favorability and 17 points lower in unfavorability.
The major message of the speech was about love, “the one thing that brings us our greatest joy when times are good, and the deepest solace in our dark hours.” And Ann wanted to make that case that she man she loves is the “man America needs.”
“I can't tell you what will happen over the next four years," Ann Romney said. "But I can only stand here tonight, as a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an American, and make you this solemn commitment: This man will not fail. This man will not let us down. This man will lift up America!"
Ann Romney's featured presence is also part of the campaign's attempt to get ahead of Democratic attacks that the GOP is waging a "war on women." The convention also features other prominent GOP women, including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.
Thus, it was of little surprise that her speech touched heavily upon gender.
"If you listen carefully, you'll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men," she said. "It's how it is, isn't it? It's the moms who always have to work a little harder, to make everything right. It's the moms of this nation--single, married, widowed--who really hold this country together. We're the mothers, we're the wives, we're the grandmothers, we're the big sisters, we're the little sisters, we're the daughters."