Politics

08.28.12

Ann Romney: Mitt’s Secret Weapon Sputters

Ann Romney was warm and appealing. But she didn’t reveal diddly about her husband and why we should elect him president. By Michelle Cottle.

So, did Ann do it? Do you see Mitt as more of a regular guy now? What about likable? Human, maybe?

Tough call.

No question Ann cut quite the appealing figure. Golden. Glorious. Giggly. And how adorable was it when she put her hands to her mouth to show how overwhelmed she was by the crowd’s super warm welcome?

The speech itself—aimed directly at women and blatant in its beatification of moms—was solid. Ann’s delivery wasn’t especially smooth, but that just made it all the more charming. Unpolished despite its meticulous scriptedness.

There were no warm-and-fuzzy, revealing stories about Mitt—the kind of heartwarming personal anecdotes that have become the stock-in-trade of political campaigns. Ann ran through his
selling points like she was
zipping through his admittedly
impressive CV.

Similarly, the speech itself rambled a bit in its effort to shoehorn in multiple points aimed at making the family seem more regular and relatable: Ann’s grandfather was poor. Mitt’s key asset as a suitor was that he made her laugh. Their first dining-room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. The birth of their first son brought Ann the realization that she had no idea what she was doing. Their "storybook marriage" had chapters that included MS and cancer.

That said, despite telling Americans how we ought to get to know her husband, Ann didn’t really do squat to help us do that. There were no warm-and-fuzzy, revealing stories about Mitt—the kind of heartwarming personal anecdotes that have become the stock-in-trade of political campaigns. Ann ran through his selling points like she was zipping through his admittedly impressive CV. She mentioned that he would get late-night phone calls from fellow church members in trouble. (Such as, Ann?) She mentioned in passing that he helped save the Olympics. (How, exactly?) And she mentioned that he started a scholarship to help others. (Details please?) But she didn’t really tell us anything about Mitt.

As though realizing the omission, Ann spent a couple of minutes explaining that Mitt doesn’t like to talk about his caring, giving side because he sees helping people as a privilege. (All those evangelicals in the audience surely appreciate the biblical admonition against being showy about one’s good deeds.)

The assembled delegates were clearly smitten. How could they not be? Ann practically glowed beneath the stage lights, a picture perfect first lady in waiting. So lovely. So gracious. So likable.

But what of all those people watching at home, waiting for Ann to explain the cipher that is Mittens? Did they come away from her speech with any better sense of his heart and soul?