Ann Romney co-hosts 'Good Morning America'

Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 01:00

IN THE end, it amounted to less than 10 minutes of face time.

But despite its brevity, Ann Romney’s much-touted appearance as a guest host on Good Morning America – ABC television’s top-rated breakfast show – was an all-American display of cooking, dancing and horses, as the Republican presidential nominee’s wife continued her push to “humanise” Mitt.

Surging in popularity, Mrs Romney (63) has been playing an increasingly important role in Mitt Romney’s campaign as he seeks to broaden his appeal, particularly among women.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released yesterday pointed to a 12-point jump in her approval rating since April. Nearly six in every 10 Americans now view Ann Romney favourably, putting her within reaching distance of the hugely popular first lady, Michelle Obama. Among women, Romney has a 53 per cent approval rating – significantly higher than the 46 per cent recorded for her husband.

Kicking off with a cringe-inducing, pre-recorded snippet of her catching an American football and telling viewers: “After raising five boys, I’m ready for anything that’s thrown my way.” Romney’s hosting duties ranged from cooking Welsh cakes (a tasty snack her grandmother taught her to make) to conducting hard-hitting interviews with eliminated Dancing with the Stars contestants.

“How did you like your scoring on the Cha Cha?” she asked one.

It was gripping stuff.

Later, she was out in Times Square with a horse, talking about equine therapy.

The only truly entertaining moment came when actor Stanley Tucci – in a second cooking slot – managed to make some butter explode next to Romney as it overheated.

While such fluff appearances may be easy to dismiss, there is little doubt Ann Romney is making her husband more likeable. Her speech at the recent national Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, was a deliberate attempt to make her husband seem less wooden and awkward and to connect with voters in a way that he seemingly cannot.

Wearing a bright red (Stepford Wife-esque) Oscar de la Renta dress, Ann Romney spoke of her love for Mitt, and how he still makes her laugh.

“Tonight, I wanna talk to you about love . . . the love I have for a man that I met at a dance many years ago, and the profound love that we have for our country,” she said.

She spoke about the American family, parents who were worried about the mortgage and, in a less-than-subtle attempt to connect with women voters, the “moms of this nation . . . who really hold this country together”.

“I love you, women!” she called out.

While yesterday morning’s television stint did not afford Romney the same scope to address voters directly, her performance was still very much on message.

Wearing another bright red number reminiscent of her convention speech outfit, she smiled a lot, cracked some weak jokes, made several pointed references to her role as a mother and a grandmother and spoke about her battle with multiple sclerosis.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, it is understood that, unhappy with the image of her husband being put forward by his campaign staff, Romney has taken on a greater strategic role, insisting that his more charitable, caring side be emphasised.

All of this has led the Washington Post to ask the question, “Is Ann Romney saving her husbands campaign?”

“She just might be,” is the answer.