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Ann Romney's RNC task tonight: humanize Mitt

TAMPA, Fla.

Ann Romney will take to the podium here Tuesday night and try to accomplish what the sharpest minds in Republican politics have failed to do: present her stiff and awkward husband as a likable guy.

Her speech is considered second in importance only to Mitt Romney’s and will set the tone for the week as the Republican Party presents its case for turning President Barack Obama out of office.

Convention and campaign officials see Ann Romney as the only person who can credibly change the image of the former Massachusetts governor from remote rich guy to that of a man of warmth and character.

“She will step back from her stump speech and outline the tenets of Mitt Romney’s life,” said Katie Packer Gage, deputy campaign manager.

“It will be a bigger, broader speech that will go back to Mitt’s earlier life, the values his parents gave him, his life as a successful businessman, as head of the Olympics, as governor, as a father and husband.’”

And Ann Romney is expected to get a dramatic assist: the Romney campaign confirmed Monday night that the candidate will travel to Tampa on Tuesday, though officials coyly would not say why or whether he just might stroll onto the stage after his wife speaks during prime time to energize the convention.

If there has been a recurring mantra from GOP message-makers during this convention so far, it is that Romney’s low likability is of little consequence in an election cycle in which voters are looking for competence and leadership. But there is also an awareness among Republicans that no matter how hard they try to present Romney as “uniquely qualified” to lead the country, polls show that voters see him as out of touch with the middle class and unable to relate the everyday challenges life presents.

And so Ann Romney will also strive to show that her family, like many others, has had its share of burdens and crises to shoulder.

“You will learn that the Romney family is not that different from other families when it comes to dealing with personal challenges and medical crises,” says Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s closest adviser and confidant. “Ann has a saying: ‘Everyone has his or her own bag of rocks to carry.’ In the case of the Romney family, it has been her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis and later her cancer scare.

“To the extent people want to know a more personal side of Mitt Romney, Ann Romney will be that messenger,” Fehrnstrom said.

Friends, family and aides said Ann Romney has been holding up well under the stress of the campaign. But there have been some indications that it has been a struggle. She recently acknowledged that she had an MS flare-up last spring, which she attributed to exhaustion. A family member said she didn’t share it with her husband or five sons.

She was an integral part of the hard-fought primary season, traveling with her husband and frequently introducing him . Her presence provided a desperately needed humanizing element for the candidate, who generally spent 10 minutes of his 20-minute stump speech singing “America the Beautiful.”

But since he locked up the nomination, she has rarely appeared on the campaign trail. She was on hand for the announcement of Paul Ryan as the vice presidential choice, but dropped off the trail after the two candidates parted ways two days later. Traveling reporters say she has been cooler toward them.

A couple of weeks ago, she gave an interview to NBC during which she appeared testy and angry about the Obama campaign attacks on her husband.

“Have you seen how we’re attacked? Have you seen what’s happened?” Romney pointedly asked NBC’s Natalie Morales, when pressed about why the couple refuses to release more tax returns.

“We have been very transparent to what’s legally required of us. But the more we release, the more we get attacked. The more we get questioned, the more we get pushed.”

Tagg Romney, the couple’s eldest son, says his mother “knows this is a tough sport and she knows the twists and turns and that what is happening is so much bigger than all of us. We have developed thick skin.”

As to what Ann Romney meant when she told NBC: “I don’t think he could do it without me. I don’t believe he could,” Tagg Romney said: “He relies on her for inner strength.

“She provides him an inner strength and confidence and purpose. Presidential campaigns are grueling and challenging and nasty and personal. She knows that strong family support is very important.”

Campaign officials are vague about what role Ann Romney will play in the fall campaign — except to say that it will be significant.

Although she spent most of her adult life as a stay-at-home mom, she is at ease speaking publicly about personal matters — of raising five sons, her 43-year marriage and how her husband supported her during her health struggles.

One challenge aides have long faced is how to get the most impact from her appearances. She is an effective surrogate in her own right, but the candidate performs better when she is around.

“When he is away from her he tends to get anxious and a little bit frazzled,” Fehrnstrom said. “When that happens, we look for opportunities to have them meet up on the campaign trail.”

Ginger Gibson contributed to this report.

Posted to: Elections Politico Politics Presidential Election Republican convention

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His wife and kids love Romney -

his dog, not so much.

Comment deleted

Comment removed for rules violation. Reason: Racial, ethnic, group attack

Nice anti Mormon Bigotry

Thank you for exposing to us your true nature. Why is it acceptable among the left to make fun of some religions but not others? If you are wiling to make jokes like that in public one can only imagine what you really think about people that have a different skin tone, or pray a different way from yourself.

i am sure...

...she will reminisce about the family vacation on Kobar (Sp.?)

yeah baby....

“When he is away from her he tends to get anxious and a little bit frazzled,” Fehrnstrom said. “When that happens, we look for opportunities to have them meet up on the campaign trail.” Whoa, I didnt know the Mittster was such a horndog, I guess he is human after all.

"you people"

Humanize Mitt? And this is the woman who said we aren't going to give "you people" anymore tax returns.

will mitt

I wonder if Mitt will be wearing his Costco shirt that he loves to wear and even iron at the convention?

Well, that and his magic underwear should make him a shoe-in.

Just regualr folks, ya'll.

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