For many voters, Ann Romney hasn’t been all that visible in the campaign so far. That will change tonight when she takes the stage just after 10 p.m. Eastern to speak on behalf of her husband, Mitt.
But the woman introducing her will also get her share of attention. Lucé Vela, a good friend of Ms. Romney, is the first lady of Puerto Rico. As the wife of successful Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño, she represents a clear attempt to appeal to Hispanic voters, who will likely make up about 9 percent of the electorate this fall. About a tenth of U.S. Hispanics are Puerto Rican, the second-largest demographic after Mexican Americans. They could swing the election in states where they are concentrated, including Florida and Pennsylvania.
The 50-year-old Ms. Vela is already a skilled speaker, having graduated from college in Maryland before getting her law degree from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. In addition to her duties as first lady, she runs a private practice in real-estate law. Her triplets are all starting college this year, giving her more time to campaign for the Romneys and for her husband, who is running for reelection this year.
This year, I interviewed Governor Fortuño in his residence La Forteleza, the oldest governor’s mansion in the Western hemisphere in continuous use. He and his wife took pride in showing myself and several other guests through the splendidly furnished rooms. But both of them became truly animated when discussing the changes Governor Fortuno has brought to Puerto Rico: the best government-bond rating in 35 years, businesses relocating to the island thanks to a reduction in the top corporate tax rate from 41 percent to 25 percent, individual income-tax cuts, and the privatization of entire government agencies.
Obviously, the spotlight tonight will be on Ann Romney but to the extent that Lucé Vela’s introduction puts attention on how conservative governance is making the lot of Puerto Ricans better, it will aid Mitt Romney’s appeal to Hispanics that conservatism can work for them.