Ann Romney just didn’t shine at the Republican National Convention when she spoke Tuesday night, she rocked the hall, owned the stage and won the hearts of conservatives and –dare I say undecided voters. In telling America why she fell in love with Mitt Romney, Ann not only humanized a man who can seem distance, stony at times but also made the case why Romney “will not fail” and is the best man “to lift up America.”
If I was a member of Obama’s re-election campaign, I’d be very afraid after the GOP Convention’s opening act. There were other speakers who set the stage on fire, Utah Congressional candidate Mia Love, Artur Davis, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie but Ann Romney was the star who paved the road for Romney’s acceptance speech Thursday.
Dressed in patriotic red, as she breezed onto the stage, Ann clasped her hands in her knees and just smiled for a moment, taking in the crowd’s excitement for her. “I want to talk to you from my heart about our hearts, she said, “I want to talk to you about love.”
She acknowledged these are tough times for parents who are working harder, longer hours and multiple jobs to take care of their kids. Then almost thumbing her nose in the face of Democrats, who tried to accuse Republicans of waging a war on women, Ann caringly reminded the audience it’s moms and women who are the glue that hold things together.
“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, and we’re the daughters,” Ann declared.
As Ann described how moms help kids with book reports, care for aging parents, she reminded me of my own mother, who was and is always there for me and my two brothers. It was my mother who cared for her mother, my grandmother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was my mother who nursed her dying brothers in their elderly years and it was my mother who has stood by my father’s side when he was sick.
In telling the story of how she met Mitt Romney, Ann debunked the notion she or her husband always lived on “easy street.” She told us how her father came from nothing to build his own business and George Romney without a college education became a carpenter. Ann said her 42 years of marriage hasn’t been easy, from living in a basement apartment, using a fold down ironing board as their dining room table, to having five boys and her diagnosis with MS and breast cancer. She said she doesn’t have a story book marriage, “what Mitt and I have is a real marriage.”
In an attempt to run from his own record of failure, President Obama has attacked Romney’s success. Ann in a humble tone said, “Mitt wasn’t handed success.” He took a risk, worked hard and never gave up. Isn’t that what we want for our children, to teach them to strive for success not tell them, “try to do okay,” she said.
Finally, Ann explained why her husband doesn’t brag more about himself, something conservatives want him to do as he heads into the final stretch against Obama.
“Mitt doesn't like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point,” she said.
As Ann ticked through Romney’s other successes turning around the 2002 Olympics, reducing unemployment to 4.7% in Massachusetts and improving schools to one of the best in the nation, I agreed with her “this is the man America needs.”
Ann Romney made Mitt relatable to Americans. So much of what Ann Romney described about her life with Mitt Romney reminded me of my own parents Thomas and Barbara. They were high school sweethearts, have been married for almost 50 years, and are the foundation for my success and grounding in life.
Infused with enthusiasm, charm and humility, Ann stole the hearts of Americans in talking about her husband but more importantly sold us on Mitt Romney, the quiet man who doesn’t brag. She asked Americans to “give him a chance.” After Tuesday night, I think they will. Ann’s a tough act to follow but after 47 years I think Mitt Romney can do it. I can’t wait to hear Mitt’s love affair for America Thursday night.