If Mitt Romney wants to broaden his image beyond the Republican Party, he could start with an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” with his wife, Ann.
Couples often draw each other out, bringing some elements into public view that are experienced privately. If the Romneys share the SNL stage, will Ann Romney help us glimpse the real Mitt?
A strong SNL intro and solid skits may upstage efforts by the Obama reelection campaign to marginalize Romney into the remote, rich businessman with coiffed hair and pressed jeans. Romney doesn’t have to sing words from an Al Green hit like President Obama. He doesn’t have to act as the grimacing guardian of the far right wing, either. In fact, the nimble moderate described by female supporters in Mary C. Curtis’s recent She the People post may emerge unscripted on the show.
The GOP has railed about class wars. Well, an SNL appearance with the Romneys is an opportunity to crack open stereotypes about the Romneys. Will they take that chance? The Romneys have shared a long marriage, they have grown children, grandchildren, and now they are pressing toward the White House. What is their personal chemistry when they share a moment of laughter? Who sends who into a belly laugh? Who stirs the pot when it comes to a joke? Is it waffles or pancakes on a free Saturday morning?
Ann Romney told “Entertainment Tonight’s” Nancy O’Dell on Thursday that the SNL skits about them are funny, but they don’t show how it is in the Romney home. For one, Romney “doesn’t comb his hair when we are not going places,” she said. “It’s all over the place.”
I’m trying to picture Ann’s Romney’s description of her husband in stay-at-home-casual mode. Is that like Albert Einstein or Christopher Lloyd hair? The concept of Mitt being mussed makes him more real. And that is one objective for appearing on SNL.
Authenticity is the currency of life. But many politicians treat real-ness as a fashion accessory. A few laughs and gaffes on SNL won’t satisfy every question about how genuine the Romneys are, but a candidate Romney who laughs at his own expense could pump up the campaign portfolio. The more relaxed and accessible Romney is, the better his chances in November. He doesn’t have to forsake his business suit; the country just needs to know he’s flesh-and-blood underneath.
“I think he should,” Ann Romney told O’Dell about Romney appearing on SNL. “I’ll weigh in on that one. Who knows when he’ll do it or how, but you know, I think at some point I think it would be odd and fun for him to do that.”
Entering the SNL universe could work against the Romneys, too. Already Ann Romney’s words to O’Dell that she would be willing to join her husband on SNL has received pushback. Critics are quick to remind her that Ann Romney is not running for office. Of course, she isn’t. But Romney needs her help if he wants to get there.
In the same interview with O’Dell, Romney talks about pacing herself because of MS. As someone who has suffered from an autoimmune disease, and whose sister suffers from one, how Romney manages her health makes her intensely human to me. Her husband wants to be president, and she has chosen to be there for him. Some days, as she said recently, her body may not want to cooperate with the campaign trail schedule. But how does she keep herself going? What does she do or say to lighten her mood?
Ann Romney said her husband is funny, but she isn’t. She said it has “never even crossed my mind” to appear on SNL, although it would be “a great thrill.”
“No one has ever thought about me,” she told O’Dell. “I'm not funny. You could probably laugh at me a lot, though.”
Hmm. Are those the words of the perfect straight man (woman)?
Judy Howard Ellis is a Dallas-based creative consultant for entrepreneurs and the author of “Fall of the Savior-King,” a fantasy novel inspired by the Book of Genesis. Previously, she was features editor at the Denver Post. Follow her on Twitter at @JudyHowardEllis.