Ann Romney on Jay Leno: How did she do?(Read article summary)
Ann Romney appeared on 'The Tonight Show,' and while she wasn't polished, she humanized Mitt quite well. The question is: Why wasn't she doing this in July? Now, it might be too late.
Ann Romney was on Jay Lenoâs âTonight Showâ Tuesday for what NBC billed as her first late-night talk show appearance. So howâd the wife of the GOP presidential nominee do, keeping in mind that sheâs a much less experienced television campaigner than first lady Michelle Obama?
âAnn Romney had a smooth go of it on Tuesday night, contrary to some recent appearances when her beautiful faĂ§ade showed some cracks,â writes Carlson Wednesday.
Cracks? Carlsonâs perhaps referring to an incident when Mrs. Romney snapped back at GOP critics, telling them to âstop it,â during a Radio Iowa interview last week.
Some commentators thought that showed the stress of the campaign might be reaching her. And Romney herself, coming out of that interview, thought she might have been âa little strong.â Thatâs the phrase she used when describing her recollection to Mr. Leno Tuesday night.
âBut everyone Iâve seen is giving me high fives about it,â she said.
Mrs. Mitt on âTonightâ did not come off with the polish of a seasoned pol. But she didnât have to. Instead, she showed why a candidateâs spouse today may be their most important surrogate campaigner â as does the first lady during her own TV turns.
First, the spouse gets to repeat key talking points without having to provide detailed backup info. Asked by Leno about her husbandâs comments at a fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans believe theyâre âvictimsâ and are mired in government dependency, Romney said, âYou donât like those things to get misinterpreted.... We care about the 100 percent.... Two things about Mitt: He cares, and heâs competent.â
We mean no disrespect by pointing out the high likelihood that Romney staffers asked Romney to repeat the words âcaresâ and âcompetentâ as many times as possible. And on a late night show, itâs unlikely youâll get asked to unpack those assertions and say more specifically what they mean.
Romney also got in a good plug aimed at the womenâs vote. When insisting that sheâs behind her husbandâs run 100 percent â despite having made a video in 2008 in which she looked into a camera and told Mitt sheâd ânever do this againâ â she said that her husband had the skill to help people hurt by todayâs bad economy.
âEspecially women. More women are slipping into poverty,â she said.
But the real virtue of spouses on the stump is their ability to humanize the candidate, of course, and itâs here that Romney does best. On âTonightâ she referred to the time Mitt helped a dying boy organize his affairs. She talked about his âplayaholicâ ways with their five boys when they were young. She talked about how they met, and managed to say he wasnât a good dancer without really saying it.
âYou know, Jay, heâs gotten to be a better dancer,â was what she said.
She admitted that she used to dress the boys for church the night before, so they could just pop out of bed and race to the car. And she described her husband as âcheapâ â a fan of Costco, somebody who turns off the water heater when they leave the house, and sometimes forgets-on-purpose to turn it back on.
âHe says, âCold showers are not that bad,â â she said.
Leno even showed a photo (which the campaign must have supplied) of a checklist taped in the basement of the Romney house that shows what needs to be done prior to leaving on trips, including âtake out garbageâ and so forth.
Will voters buy this about someone whoâs building a car elevator? Well, depending on which way theyâre already leaning, they wonât, or they will. The real question may be why nobody heard about this list before they heard about the car elevators, and other evidence of Romneyâs wealth.
Romneyâs âTonightâ appearance is the first of a round of scheduled TV interviews, but thereâs a case to be made they come too late. Her husbandâs now falling behind in key swing state polls. Survey show voters find the incumbent more likeable and more empathetic than his GOP challenger.
An earlier blitz of Romney family appearances might have done more to counteract these trends. If not Mrs. Romney, who has health challenges, then what about the boys? All five appeared on âConan.â They were fine, too â and we bet every other late-night show would have been glad to host them. In July.