'Mitt-igator' Ann Romney on a mission to sell her husband to the masses



On paper, the most important speech of the Republican convention will be delivered by Mitt Romney on Thursday, as he accepts the party's presidential nomination. But the one that could make the most difference of all comes tonight. And it won't be delivered by a politician – at least not a professional politician.

Under the revised, Isaac-compressed schedule of the convention, Ann Romney will have some prime-time competition in the hefty shape of New Jersey's combative and trenchant Governor Chris Christie (though not, it would seem, Donald Trump).

But Mr Christie is just a politician. Ms Romney has the crucial task that could conceivably decide the election – of making Americans (particularly American women who currently prefer Barack Obama by a wide margin) to like and trust her husband enough to send him to the White House.

The simple fact is that Ms Romney is a far better campaigner than her husband. All too often he comes across as stiff and wooden. She, by contrast, is the perfect candidate's wife. Where her husband can appear unearthly, robotic and managerial, untouched by the disasters that plague the lives of ordinary people, Ms Romney comes across as straightforward and natural. In a word, normal.

At 63, she has the qualities of the traditional Republican First Lady – not a career woman like Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama, much more the supportive wife and homemaker in the mode of the two Bush presidential wives, Barbara and Laura. The family is suitably picture perfect too, a handsome husband and five strapping and wholesome sons

But if Ms Romney wears the coat of wealth and privilege, right down to a passion for equestrianism and ownership of Rafalca, a dressage horse that competed in this summer's London Olympics (it finished 28th), the reality is more complicated. Ms Romney has weathered her share of disasters. She has had two reported miscarriages, she has overcome breast cancer. She suffers from the incurable and potentially debilitating illness of multiple sclerosis.

All this makes her the ideal "humaniser" of her husband. Some have dubbed her the "Mitt-igator". Mr Romney needs help in that vital presidential-preference category, the candidate "you'd most like to have a beer with". As a teetotalling Mormon, of course, he doesn't touch the stuff. But if anyone can help square that circle, it's Ann.

Contrary to appearances, she is a first-generation American, whose father, Edward Davies, emigrated from South Wales to the US in 1929. He became a successful businessman and settled in the wealthy Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills. Ms Romney met her future husband in 1965 when she was just 16. The following year she converted to Mormonism and in 1969 they were married. Five children followed.

Nothing, however, prepared her for the day in 1998 when she was diagnosed with MS. "I was pretty desperate, pretty frightened and very, very sick," she told the Associated Press in 2004. But she has managed keep the symptoms under control with a variety of treatments that include acupuncture and horse riding.

Tonight though, Ms Romney will be selling her husband to the American people. The Mitt Romney she'll be describing is not the bean-counter at Bain Capital, the competent Governor of Massachusetts or even the rescuer of the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City, but the guy who stood by her when the doctors told her she had MS.

"You can count on him," she has said. "He won't abandon you in the hardest times." She'll be schmaltzy, a little over the top, as is the way with many US political convention speakers. But just possibly, it'll work.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before