The morning after her husband accepted the Republican presidential nomination, Ann Romney continued her women-centric assault on President Obama by declaring that “it’s time for the grown-up” to take over White House and revive the economy.
In an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, Romney continued her iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove appeal to women that began with her Republican convention speech designed to humanize her sometimes-stiff husband and close the gender gap.
Her message is simple, direct and one she is likely to repeat until Election Day: Vote with your purses, ladies, even if it means crossing party lines.
“I’m hearing from so many women that may not have considered voting for a Republican before, that said it’s time for the grown-up to come, the man that’s going to take this very seriously. And take the future of our children very, very seriously,” Romney said. “I very much believe it’s going to be an economic election. And I think a lot of women may be voting this cycle around in a different way than they usually are. And that is thinking about the economy. Thinking about their own jobs, their husbands’ jobs, but also thinking about the future.”
The takeaway? Her handsome husband, father of their five boys, grandfather of 18, is a proven entrepreneur who can do the nation’s business in ways Barack Obama cannot.
What America’s women are telling her, Romney said, is that “enough is enough, that they care not about their own job, and their children’s job and their husband’s job, which they do care about because they’re worried about those. They are also caring about the legacy of debt that we’re leaving their children. I think they recognize that it’s time for someone that understands the economy, understands job creation, understands how responsible he’s going to be in making sure that their children are not going to be burdened with the debts.”
In future appearances and interviews, look for her to keep sharing personal anecdotes — she has discussed the pain of miscarrying their sixth child, and her battle with MS — as well as talking up her husband’s putative political adulthood. Her goal is to successfully woo a vital but hardly monolithic voting bloc with the same zeal Mitt wooed her after that infamous high school dance.
The GOP standard-bearer has been lagging behind Obama in polls among women voters for months, and Democrats have relentlessly accused Republicans of waging a “war against women” on issues of pay equity, health care, domestic violence and reproductive rights. Romney was also forced to condemn Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who said abortions should not be allowed for pregnancies resulting from “legitimate rape” because the victims’ bodies provide natural contraception.
In her own convention speech Tuesday night, Romney appealed to “working moms who love their jobs but would like to work just a little less to spend more time with the kids,” even as she sought to dispel suspicions that since the Romneys are millionaires, they cannot possibly understand the straitened lives of those far less fortunate. So she told stories about frequent dinners of tuna and pasta when Mitt was at Harvard, and about their self-made families who were not born rich but made their way in this great country.
“I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a ‘storybook marriage.’ 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 current focus on Ann Romney is about to shift to, or at least be shared with, first lady Michelle Obama when the Democratic convention opens next week in Charlotte, N.C.
For most of her husband’s first term, the so-called White House “Mom-in-Chief” has championed exercise and healthy eating to combat obesity, while avoiding the overtly political issues that caused candidate Obama a few headaches in 2008.
Despite fierce partisan debate over policies affecting women, Michelle Obama has remained mum.
The first lady’s effort is aimed at mobilizing voter turnout and building neighborhood teams to work for the president’s reelection. In a rare departure for a White House spouse, she will star in her own “It Takes One” ads.
I, for one, look forward to Ann Romney ads, too, and welcome the evolving, highly charged nature of both women’s roles.
I also yearn mightily for a debate of a different sort. While Obama and Romney pound each other in three autumn faceoffs, and while Vice President Biden goes at it with Rep. Paul Ryan, I’d love to see an unprecedented political matchup between Ann Romney and Michelle Obama, with or without the word “grown-up” ever uttered
Former Washington Post staffer Annie Groer writes widely about politics, culture, design and 21st century manners. Her work has appeared in PoliticsDaily.com, the New York Times, Town & Country, More and Washingtonian.