Mitt Romney officially claimed the GOP nomination for president last night, but the real story was whether the streams of speakers were able to build a foundation to begin helping the candidate cross what's being called the "likability gap."
Leading up to Romney's Thursday night acceptance speech, the convention is designed as a crash course for making him less of an unfeeling CEO and politician and more of a family man, an everyday American, and a good neighbor.
Ann Romney on Tuesday began laying the groundwork with her impassioned speech, challenging the claims that her husband is a job-killing, uncaring private equity financier.
Her stories about living in a basement apartment, eating pasta and tuna on a makeshift ironing board table made her appealing and offered a brief window in her husband background and established that he does have a pulse.
“I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a ‘storybook marriage,’” she said. “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.”
The New York Times
, offered a backhanded compliment, saying
“Has Ann Romney learned a thing or two from Michelle Obama’s playbook? In her smiling but forceful convention speech, Mrs. Romney showed off many classic political-spouse rhetorical moves: the fond recollection of her romance, the you-don’t-know-my-husband response to his critics.”
Following the hashtags #RNC and #2012GOP, it seemed that more GOP detractors were voicing their opinions on Twitter. Some more reasonable tweets included:
Criticize Romney all you like but he doesn't drink, smoke, take drugs or womanize - and he has a delightful wife & devoted children.
Why is Ann Romney not out campaigning on her own every day she is able to? This is a great speech
Again, Ann is not a polished speaker, but she's doing a great job laying out the Mitt Romney life story
I wonder if the Romney’s ever had to choose between paying rent or buying groceries
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ended up stealing the show, offering his trademark in your face, red-meat revival rhetoric that played perfectly to the crowd. The media said it was reminiscent of Obama’s 2004 speech that served as a precursor to his successful run for president. Christie’s speech was so strong and real that he may have left Republicans wondering why he wasn't accepting the nomination Tuesday night instead of Romney.
The most telling tweet of the night: “The best ending line of Chris Christie’s speech would be ‘I accept the nomination for president.’”
Gil Rudawsky is a former reporter and editor. He heads up the crisis communication and issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. Read his blog or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.