What Ann Romney tells Mitt before a debate: ‘He’s great. He’s competent’

Ann Romney tells the Denver Post what she says to her husband just before a debate, like the one he faces tonight with President Obama. 

"I tell him, you know, he is who he is," she said. "He's great. He's competent. He's experienced. He's done this. He's fantastic. I love him. Go! Just all those encouraging words." No policy: "I don't weigh in on that."

She may not get into the substance, but the New York Times adds that Ann Romney plays an active role in Mitt's debate performances. 

During campaign debates, Mr. Romney routinely looks to his wife after delivering answers to gauge her reactions, sometimes conferring with her during commercial breaks. After Mr. Romney gave Newt Gingrich a drubbing during a primary season debate, Mrs. Romney telegraphed her views in a brief conversation: enough. Mr. Romney had made his point, an adviser recalled.

As Ann Romney said on CNN Tuesday, "He has to find where I am. And – he just – he needs just that connection. And almost after every answer that he gives, he'll find me in the audience, to see, 'Was that good? Was that okay?'"

First lady Michelle Obama told CNN that she offers "positive reinforcement" but  doesn't give her husband advice: "He doesn’t need much advice. I mean, he’s been doing this for quite some time. So he knows the job."

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · October 3, 2012