Ann Romney RNC speech and heartstring politics
Forget Christie. Forget Haley. Forget Santorum. Forget Walker. Forget Ryan. Forget platform politics and the economy. Heck, forget Tropical Storm Isaac.
Ann Romney had a miscarriage! The wife of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee spoke candidly Tuesday on CBS's "This Morning" Tuesday about a previously undisclosed miscarriage she had in her 40s. Mitt Romney, sitting next to her, looked surprised when Ann relayed the heart-wrenching account of her son Craig's devastation at the news.
What a setup as the buzz ahead of Tuesday night's RNC keynotes speeches swirls around Mitt's wife. Initially slotted to speak Monday night, which would have kept her off primetime television, the RNC used pesky Tropical Storm Isaac to its advantage by moving Ann's speech to Tuesday night.
The world will bask in her glow.
The problem, of course, is that we might already be a bit sunburnt. Ann's talking points are so well-worn they're practically Republican Bible verse.
Here, the Los Angeles Times reminds us of a favourite Ann Romney nugget:
"In 2008, after her husband withdrew from the gruelling race for the GOP presidential nomination, Ann Romney made a personal campaign promise: "I am never going to do this again."
"You know what, Ann?" replied Mitt Romney, father of her five sons. "You said that after every pregnancy."
Telling that favourite family story to a jovial hometown crowd in Michigan last February, Ann delivered the punch line: "I guess I didn't really mean it."
Comments like those make Republican voters coo and awww and maybe chuckle once or twice. The rest ask this simple question: Why do we care?
Well, if the world can be convinced Mitt is marriage (and father) material, then it can be convinced he's a good enough guy to occupy the White House. Ann is her husband's greatest image counsellor, just as Michelle Obama was Barack's at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Simple as that.
"In some ways her job is to illuminate for the rest of us what made him a wonderful husband and father. What drives him? What is about it that she loves?"
But Ann's greatest challenge, Ed Rogers of the Washington Post points out, will be avoiding language and imagery that paints the Romney family's wholesomeness as distant from the average American. She'll have to find a discursive way of talking about her battles with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer while sidestepping the Romneys' relative privilege. Says Rogers:
"If Ann Romney presents a picture of Mitt Romney and their family that is too perfect, cynical viewers and commentators could compare it to their own lives and decide the Romneys live in a surreal world and can't possibly relate to the average American. It will be hard for Ann Romney to effectively and gracefully talk about their family challenges and her own battle with cancer in order to humanize her husband and convince others that the Romneys do appreciate the real problems Americans face."
But back to that initial question: Why do we care? Over at Slate, Alyssa Rosenberg writes this is all hogwash. With Ann's speech unlikely to tell viewers anything they haven't already heard, Rosenberg suggests she be kept off the air.
"Predictability is what makes it entirely justifiable to not air Ann Romney's speech. It's hard to imagine that Mrs. Romney is going to attempt to sell audiences on a significantly revised portrait of her husband, or make any news."
Ann Romney is expected to speak around 10:30 p.m. ET.