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Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney waves with his wife Ann Romney after she addressed delegates during the second session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012 REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
The Romneys, hoping the "please like Mitt" pitch finally works.
Ann Romney had an impossible job to do for her husband last night:
His biggest problem is that regular voters don’t like him as much as Obama. That's especially true of women, and that’s why the stakes are high for Ann Romney’s speech on the crucial opening night of the convention. [...]

Who better to reassure women that Romney is on their side than his attractive, personable mate of 43 years?

This has been the expectation and part of a "three-pronged" strategy unveiled by the campaign in April to close the gaping gender gap—which has yet to happen. Ann was tasked with "warming up his image by emphasizing his role as a devoted father and husband." Earlier this month, Ann was officially named national chairwoman of "Women for Mitt."

In other words, last night, Ann was supposed to deliver a miracle. She failed:

I want to talk to you tonight not about politics and not about party.

And while there are many important issues we'll hear discussed in this convention and throughout this campaign, tonight I want to talk to you from my heart about our hearts.

I want to talk not about what divides us, but what holds us together as an American family. I want to talk to you tonight about that one great thing that unites us, that one thing that brings us our greatest joy when times are good, and the deepest solace in our dark hours.

Tonight I want to talk to you about love.

Tonight, Ann tells us, at last, she will help the country to understand what it is she sees in her awkward, arrogant, insulting, out-of-touch husband—something thus far lost on the rest of us.

Except that she doesn't. She offers generic Hallmark-esque platitudes about "love so deep only a mother can fathom it." She insists that she loves her fellow Americans. But when it comes to explaining why Americans should love Mitt, this is the sum total of her argument:  

I could tell you why I fell in love with him -- he was tall, laughed a lot, was nervous -- girls like that, it shows the guy's a little intimidated -- and he was nice to my parents but he was really glad when my parents weren't around.
That's really all Ann has to offer. Mitt was, apparently, the right height. As for his laughter and his nervousness, we've seen that—and have yet to be swept off our feet as Ann was.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

Ann's testimony that despite all appearances to the contrary, Mitt is a kind and caring person, is hardly persuasive:

He has tried to live his life with a set of values centered on family, faith, and love of one's fellow man. From the time we were first married, I've seen him spend countless hours helping others. I've seen him drop everything to help a friend in trouble, and been there when late-night calls of panic came from a member of our church whose child had been taken to the hospital.
Everything we've seen and heard from Mitt thus far, however, contradicts that. He cries about giving money to his church. He's "not concerned with the very poor." He likes firing people. He tells "humorous" stories about his father, as president of American Motors, shutting down a factory in Michigan and putting a bunch of people out of work. And as one of his sons explained recently, during yet another failed attempt to make Mitt seem human and likable, Mitt can't be bothered to wait for the rest of his family during "family" meals and "he's usually finished by the time the rest of us sit down."

While we've been made very aware of Mitt's affection for his friends—the owners of NFL teams and NASCAR teams and some unnamed member of the Eagles—what Mitt has failed to demonstrate is any actual compassion or consideration for anyone else. And last night, Ann failed to offer any evidence that Mitt is anything other than the cold, unlikeable, out-of-touch, arrogant, awkward—and frankly, really dickish—person he seems to be.

As for Ann's other task last night—persuading women that they should like and trust and vote for Mitt, despite his ambivalence about equal pay laws, his promise to shut down the nation's biggest provider of women's health care, and his dizzying flip-flops on whether women should be forced against their will to carry to term pregnancies they don't want or that could even kill them—Ann failed there as well. Instead of assuring women that Mitt will not pursue his party's blatantly anti-woman agenda, Ann again listed generic, meaningless platitudes about moms "who really hold this country together" and care for elderly parents and help with book reports:

You are the best of America.

You are the hope of America.

There would not be an America without you.

Tonight, we salute you and sing your praises.

None of that addresses the very real concerns women have about Mitt and his refusal to clarify his positions on equal pay, for example, or women's health care. Ads by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, for example, have been particularly devastating with swing voters in battleground states:

According to Hart Research surveys conducted in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Des Moines, Iowa, before and after PPFA's ads ran, women who definitely recalled seeing the ads (half of women in Florida, 55 percent in Iowa) said that they were far less likely to vote for Romney than women who did not recall seeing the ads. The number of women in both states who responded that Mitt Romney is "out of step with my opinions on issues affecting women" increased by 11 percent after the PPAF ad campaign ran.

What solace did Ann offer to those women and to all the other Americans who have not fallen in love with Mitt?

You may not agree with Mitt's positions on issues or his politics. Massachusetts is only 13% Republican, so it's not like that's a shock.

But let me say this to every American who is thinking about who should be our next President:

No one will work harder.

No one will care more.

No one will move heaven and earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live!

It is hardly reassuring that a would-be president whose politics offend and disgust you will work as hard as he can to implement his party's extremist agenda to strip you of your most basic rights. But then, that kind of tone-deaf obliviousness is par for the course for the Romney campaign. Earlier this year, for example, Ann was trotted out to defend her husband against accusations that he was part of his party's War on Women:
Mitt Romney is a person that admires women and listens to them, and I am grateful that he listens to me and listens to what I am telling him as well about what women are facing right now, and he's listening and he cares.
That's not exactly proof that Mitt cares about, understands, or has any interest in the majority of this country when his own wife is "grateful" that he listens to her—as opposed to, apparently, flat-out telling her he doesn't care what she has to say. We know that he thinks speaking to women is Ann's job and that she reports back to him when she thinks women care about, which somehow makes her an expert, but when asked to discuss women, the Romney campaign has admitted that it does not have "an appropriate spokesperson" to address such issues. Ann's extensive discussions with women, apparently, have qualified her just enough to report back to her husband, but not to discuss the matter with any authority. Another conversation for quiet rooms only, it seems.

It doesn't help that Ann has continued the theme of trying to relate to regular people by insisting that she and Mitt personally know what it means to struggle in this country, that theirs is a bootstraps kind of story. Last night, Ann said, "I can tell you Mitt Romney was not handed success."

Which is a ridiculous assertion, of course, because aside from being the son of a governor, which automatically bestowed on Mitt the kind of privilege and opportunity not even most members of the one percent can imagine, Ann has told us before that she and Mitt didn't even have to work when they were a young couple, just starting out, because they had Mitt's stock portfolio—a stock portfolio he did not build, but inherited—to support them.

Mitt Romney is is deeply unlikeable. His every attempt to demonstrate his supposed likability instead further confirms that he is every bit as awkward and insulting and arrogant and clueless as all his prior attempts have shown. He can't eat a pastry without insulting the baker. He can't travel to another country without insulting its houses. He can't speak of his supposedly deep commitment to his faith without revealing his resentment about the tithing his church requires.

He is a terrible person. And it is was Ann's job to make us think otherwise. And, once again, she failed.


The full text of Ann Romney's prepared remarks:

I want to talk to you tonight not about politics and not about party.

And while there are many important issues we'll hear discussed in this convention and throughout this campaign, tonight I want to talk to you from my heart about our hearts.

I want to talk not about what divides us, but what holds us together as an American family. I want to talk to you tonight about that one great thing that unites us, that one thing that brings us our greatest joy when times are good, and the deepest solace in our dark hours.

Tonight I want to talk to you about love.

I want to talk to you about the deep and abiding love I have for a man I met at a dance many years ago. And the profound love I have, and I know we share, for this country.

I want to talk to you about that love so deep only a mother can fathom it -- the love we have for our children and our children's children.

And I want us to think tonight about the love we all share for those Americans, our brothers and sisters, who are going through difficult times, whose days are never easy, nights are always long, and whose work never seems done.

They are here among us tonight in this hall; they are here in neighborhoods across Tampa and all across America. The parents who lie awake at night side by side, wondering how they'll be able to pay the mortgage or make the rent; the single dad who's working extra hours tonight, so that his kids can buy some new clothes to go back to school, can take a school trip or play a sport, so his kids can feel... like the other kids.

And the working moms who love their jobs but would like to work just a little less to spend more time with the kids, but that's just out of the question with this economy. Or that couple who would like to have another child, but wonder how will they afford it.

I've been all across this country for the past year and a half and heard these stories of how hard it is to get ahead now. I've heard your voices: "I'm running in place," "we just can't get ahead."

Sometimes I think that late at night, if we were all silent for just a few moments and listened carefully, we could hear a great collective sigh from the moms and dads across America who made it through another day, and know that they'll make it through another one tomorrow. But in that end of the day moment, they just aren't sure how.

And if you listen carefully, you'll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It's how it is, isn't it?

It's the moms who always have to work a little harder, to make everything right.

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, we're the daughters.

You know it's true, don't you?

You're the ones who always have to do a little more.

You know what it's like to work a little harder during the day to earn the respect you deserve at work and then come home to help with that book report which just has to be done.

You know what those late night phone calls with an elderly parent are like and the long weekend drives just to see how they're doing.

You know the fastest route to the local emergency room and which doctors actually answer the phone when you call at night.

You know what it's like to sit in that graduation ceremony and wonder how it was that so many long days turned into years that went by so quickly.

You are the best of America.

You are the hope of America.

There would not be an America without you.

Tonight, we salute you and sing your praises.

I'm not sure if men really understand this, but I don't think there's a woman in America who really expects her life to be easy. In our own ways, we all know better!

And that's fine. We don't want easy. But these last few years have been harder than they needed to be. It's all the little things -- that price at the pump you just can't believe, the grocery bills that just get bigger; all those things that used to be free, like school sports, are now one more bill to pay. It's all the little things that pile up to become big things.  And the big things  -- the good jobs, the chance at college, that home you want to buy, just get harder.  Everything has become harder.

We're too smart to know there aren't easy answers. But we're not dumb enough to accept that there aren't better answers.

And that is where this boy I met at a high school dance comes in.
His name is Mitt Romney and you really should get to know him.

I could tell you why I fell in love with him -- he was tall, laughed a lot, was nervous -- girls like that, it shows the guy's a little intimidated -- and he was nice to my parents but he was really glad when my parents weren't around.

That's a good thing.  And he made me laugh.

I am the granddaughter of a Welsh coal miner who was determined that his kids get out of the mines. My dad got his first job when he was six years old, in a little village in Wales called Nantyffyllon, cleaning bottles at the Colliers Arms.

When he was 15, dad came to America. In our country, he saw hope and an opportunity to escape from poverty. He moved to a small town in the great state of Michigan.  There, he started a business -- one he built himself, by the way.

He raised a family. And he became mayor of our town.

My dad would often remind my brothers and me how fortunate we were to grow up in a place like America.  He wanted us to have every opportunity that came with life in this country -- and so he pushed us to be our best and give our all.

Inside the houses that lined the streets of our town, there were a lot of good fathers teaching their sons and daughters those same values.  I didn't know it at the time, but one of those dads was my future father-in-law, George Romney.

Mitt's dad never graduated from college. Instead, he became a carpenter.

He worked hard, and he became the head of a car company, and then the governor of Michigan.

When Mitt and I met and fell in love, we were determined not to let anything stand in the way of our life together. I was an Episcopalian. He was a Mormon.  

We were very young. Both still in college. There were many reasons to delay marriage, and you know?  We just didn't care.  We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish.  Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses.  Our dining room table was a fold down ironing board in the kitchen.  Those were very special days.

Then our first son came along.  All at once I'm 22 years old, with a baby and a husband who's going to business school and law school at the same time, and I can tell you, probably like every other girl who finds herself in a new life far from family and friends, with a new baby and a new husband, that it dawned on me that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.

That was 42 years ago. Now we have five sons and 18 grandchildren and I'm still in love with that boy I met at a high school dance.

I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a "storybook marriage." Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or Breast Cancer.

A storybook marriage?  No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.

I know this good and decent man for what he is -- warm and loving and patient.

He has tried to live his life with a set of values centered on family, faith, and love of one's fellow man. From the time we were first married, I've seen him spend countless hours helping others. I've seen him drop everything to help a friend in trouble, and been there when late-night calls of panic came from a member of our church whose child had been taken to the hospital.

You may not agree with Mitt's positions on issues or his politics. Massachusetts is only 13% Republican, so it's not like that's a shock.

But let me say this to every American who is thinking about who should be our next President:

No one will work harder.

No one will care more.

No one will move heaven and earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live!

It's true that Mitt has been successful at each new challenge he has taken on. It amazes me to see his history of success actually being attacked.  Are those really the values that made our country great?  As a mom of five boys, do we want to raise our children to be afraid of success?

Do we send our children out in the world with the advice, "Try to do... okay?"

And let's be honest. If the last four years had been more successful, do we really think there would be this attack on Mitt Romney's success?

Of course not.

Mitt will be the first to tell you that he is the most fortunate man in the world. He had two loving parents who gave him strong values and taught him the value of work.  He had the chance to get the education his father never had.

But as his partner on this amazing journey, I can tell you Mitt Romney was not handed success.

He built it.

He stayed in Massachusetts after graduate school and got a job. I saw the long hours that started with that first job. I was there when he and a small group of friends talked about starting a new company.  I was there when they struggled and wondered if the whole idea just wasn't going to work.  Mitt's reaction was to work harder and press on.

Today that company has become another great American success story.

Has it made those who started the company successful beyond their dreams?

Yes, it has.

It allowed us to give our sons the chance at good educations and made all those long hours of book reports and homework worth every minute.  It's given us the deep satisfaction of being able to help others in ways that we could never have imagined.  Mitt doesn't like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point.  And we're no different than the millions of Americans who quietly help their neighbors, their churches and their communities.  They don't do it so that others will think more of them.

They do it because there IS no greater joy.

"Give and it shall be given unto you."

But because this is America, that small company which grew has helped so many others lead better lives. The jobs that grew from the risks they took have become college educations, first homes.  That success has helped fund scholarships, pensions, and retirement funds.  This is the genius of America: dreams fulfilled help others launch new dreams.

At every turn in his life, this man I met at a high school dance, has helped lift up others.  He did it with the Olympics, when many wanted to give up.

He did it in Massachusetts, where he guided a state from economic crisis to unemployment of just 4.7%.

Under Mitt, Massachusetts's schools were the best in the nation. The best.  He started the John and Abigail Adams scholarships, which give the top 25% of high school graduates a four-year tuition-free scholarship.

This is the man America needs.

This is the man who will wake up every day with the determination to solve the problems that others say can't be solved, to fix what others say is beyond repair. This is the man who will work harder than anyone so that we can work a little less hard.

I can't tell you what will happen over the next four years. But I can only stand here tonight, as a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an American, and make you this solemn commitment:

This man will not fail.

This man will not let us down.

This man will lift up America!

It has been 47 years since that tall, kind of charming young man brought me home from our first dance. Not every day since has been easy.

But he still makes me laugh. And never once did I have a single reason to doubt that I was the luckiest woman in the world.

I said tonight I wanted to talk to you about love. Look into your hearts.

This is our country.

This is our future.

These are our children and grandchildren.

You can trust Mitt.

He loves America.  

He will take us to a better place, just as he took me home safely from that dance.

Give him that chance.

Give America that chance.

God bless each of you and God Bless the United States of America.

Originally posted to Kaili Joy Gray on Wed Aug 29, 2012 at 09:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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