Since it was announced that Ann Romney would be speaking during the (now condensed) opening night of the Republican National Convention, it was assumed that her mission would be to humanize her husband with talk of how he helped her raise five boys and supported her while she battled breast cancer and MS. There was some of that tonight — including a questionable anecdote about the newlywed Romneys feasting on tuna while using an ironing board as a table — but in light of the Akin rape controversy and revived talk of the GOP's alleged "war on women," Romney was tasked with another mission: making the appeal to female voters. The message was hard to miss, but just in case, Romney offered an Oprah-esque ad-lib, shouting, "I love you, women!"
Romney started off by declaring that she'd be talking "not about politics and not about party," but (in contrast to Chris Christie) about love. In particular, "that love so deep only a mother can fathom it." In the first half of her speech Romney focused on struggling American parents. While there was an early shout-out for "the single dad who's working extra hours tonight," it quickly became clear that she was mainly talking about moms. Fathers may be part of the "great collective sigh" from parents trying to make it through the day, but "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 America's moms ("single, married, widowed" — the GOP wouldn't want to alienate any of these key female voters) who "really hold this country together." Romney continued:
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.
Though Democrats have been hammering Republicans for their stance on reproductive rights and women's health, that was Romney's most specific reference to health care. Earlier this week, Scott Pelley of CBS News asked Romney "whether Republicans have women’s best interests at heart." While Pelley's question referenced the GOP's position on abortion and contraception, Romney avoided addressing those topics and said women will vote for her husband because they're primarily worried about the economy. Similarly, at the convention she only mentioned financial concerns in her list of ways women's lives have become harder under the Obama administration:
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.
Romney's delivery was awkward at times (in an endearing, mom's first time using a teleprompter sort of way), but she seemed more at ease after making the segue into the predictable recap of her life with "a man I met at a dance many years ago." Romney concluded that her husband "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." It's up to you, ladies. Don't force America to, uh ... call her dad and ask him to pick her up? Spring for cab fare? They probably should have used the extra day to work on that dance metaphor.