Denver — If you really knew him, you’d love him. That’s a Romney World refrain and a sentiment that shaped much of the Republican National Convention. It’s also a political problem. Boston worries that many swing voters see Romney as a blend of the Tin Man and Gordon Gekko, due to the Obama campaign’s barrage of negative advertising. To crack that caricature in the final five weeks, they have a simple strategy: more Ann Romney.
On the eve of the first presidential debate, Mrs. Romney held a solo rally in the Denver suburbs and later sat for an interview with CNN, where she emotionally described how her husband always writes “Dad” on a piece of paper when he’s at a debate podium. Her message at the rally featured similar stories about Romney’s softer side, but her words had an edge. “I am sick and tired of hearing about Mitt being mischaracterized,” she said. “I am going to stand up and I am going to tell you about the person I know.”
Mrs. Romney spent much of her 14-minute speech talking about Romney’s modesty and generosity, focusing specifically on the story of a cancer-stricken boy who looked up to her husband. At the end of the boy’s young life, he spent hours with him and his family. “That is where Mitt is when someone is in trouble, he’s there, he’s by the bedside,” Romney said. “Right now the country is in trouble. We need someone who cares, who truly understands what is going on.”
Romney advisers say Mrs. Romney’s increased presence on the trail is a testament to her popularity and her ability to humanize her husband. “You’ll see more of her,” says Kevin Madden, a senior Romney adviser. “She’s anxious to do whatever she can to persuade voters that Governor Romney’s vision is the right vision. She wants people to have a sense of who Mitt is. She likes to talk about what drives him and motivates him.”
As she stood under the hot sun cheering on Mrs. Romney, Marilyn Vaughn, a Denver retiree, told me that she is pleased to see her stumping. “I don’t think people have a good idea about Romney yet, so I’m glad she’s here,” she said. “She’s a mother who has suffered a lot and done a lot of good.”
But Ms. Vaughn doesn’t think Mrs. Romney’s advocacy will be a cure-all. “Romney just has to make sure that he doesn’t slip up in this debate,” she chuckled.