By all accounts, Ann Romney delivered exactly what she needed to deliver when she spoke at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night. Mrs. Romney didn’t attempt a sterile platform speech. Instead, she focused on the personal side of her husband, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Mrs. Romney's speech drew a lot of applause and cheers, but you'd never have known it if you were watching the late night news here in North Florida.
What many Republicans may not have realized is that Mrs. Romney was directly addressing viewers who weren’t in that audience—undecided voters who still want to know more about the man eager to challenge President Barack Obama and the Democrats in November.
Once the speech ended, Gov. Romney walked onto the stage to escort her to her seat. The crowd roared approval.
Strangely, my local late night news (ABC) didn’t show that moment when the governor walked over to kiss his wife modestly and nor did the station include the applause that followed. The snippet the station aired was brief and ended before the applause kicked in. The edit was so heavy-handed it seemed to me a deliberate attempt to downplay a speech that most definitely could be characterized as spectacular.
Contrast that media treatment to the 2000 Democrats’ convention when Al Gore’s passionate smack with then-wife Tipper was aired and re-aired ad nauseam. I always thought that kiss was fake, pure theatrics. That moment for the Gores came before the massage scandal broke and the couple parted.
Mrs. Romney talked about what unites Americans as a family—she said she didn’t want to talk “about what divides us.”
The former First Lady of Massachusetts talked about her father’s immigration to the U.S. when he was 15, “to the great state of Michigan.” She said he started a business—“one he built by himself, by the way.”
The evening’s theme was, “We built it.”
At times, Mrs. Romney looked directly at the camera, and it was obvious she was eager to share the story of the man she loved to help Americans understand her husband “was not handed success—he built it.”
The governor’s wife talked about early years in their marriage when they lived in a basement apartment. She spoke about raising 5 boys and said hers was not a “storybook marriage.” Instead it was a book that didn’t include chapters, she said, about raising those 5 boys or breast cancer or MS [Multiple Sclerosis].
Mrs. Romney also told the audience that her husband “doesn’t talk about how he’s helped others—he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point.”
The RNC website provides videos of all the speeches.
Fox News did a wrap of the evening. Brit Hume said Mrs. Romney’s speech was “the single most effective…I’ve ever heard given by a political wife.” Hume also weighed in on what was obvious to many political observers with an assessment of a changed GOP: “A new Republican Party,” said Hume, “populated by young leaders who’ve been successful.”
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/August 29, 2012)