Ann Romney played an active and important role in the 2012 presidential election. The wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was seen as an effective campaigner who helped break the ice between voters and her husband, who faced criticism that he was aloof and out of touch with middle-class Americans.
Ann Romney was described as her husband's best "secret weapon" and was reportedly instrumental in overhauling the Romney campaign just before the first of three presidential debates, a time when Republican hopes of defeating Presidential Barack Obama appeared to be dimming.
Ann Romney's popularity surged among voters as she took on a more visibile role in the fall presidential campaign in 2012. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released in October 2012 found a majority of Americans, 52 percent, held a favorable view of Ann Romney - making her nearly as popular as First Lady Michelle Obama.
Speech at Republican National Convention
Ann Romney, like most wives of presidential candidates, played a prominent role at the party's nominating convention. The mother of five spoke of the couple's marriage and their struggles with health; Ann Romney has battled both multiple sclerosis and breast cancer.
"I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a storybook marriage. 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," she said at the Republican National Convention in 2012. "A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage."
Role in Campaign Overhaul
Romney campaign insiders told the news outlet Politico that Ann Romney and other family members staged an "intervention" with the candidate when it appeared he would lose the election if he didn't turn the campaign around. According to Politico, the family pushed to emphasize Mitt Romney's "softer and more moderate image," and approach that was described with the philosophy: "Let Mitt be Mitt."
The overhaul was reported to be the culmination of Ann Romney's mounting frustration with how campaign strategists were handling her husband's candidacy. She felt the Obama campaign had been allowed define her husband as being an insensitive corporate raider. After the intervention, the campaign stressed the couple's contributions to charity, as reported in the Romney tax returns, and other philanthropic efforts.
Criticism of Obama
Ann Romney, in contrast with many spouses of presidential candidates, was openly critical of Obama during the 2012 election campaign. After the Republican nominee's strong performance in the first debate that year, she responded publicly to the Obama campaign's accusations that Romney fudged some of the facts.
"I mean, lied about what? This is something he’s been saying all along. This is what he believes. This is his policy, these are his statements," Ann Romney told Fox News. "I mean, lie — it’s sort of like someone that’s, you know, in the sandbox that like lost the game and they’re just going to kick sand in someone’s face and say, ‘you liar.’ I mean, it’s like they lost, and so now they just are going to say, OK, the game, we didn’t like the game. So to me, it’s poor sportsmanship."
Criticism of Ann Romney
Critics accused Ann Romney of being out of touch with the economic struggles many families continued to face in 2012 in the wake of the Great Recession. In particular, the couple's wealth and lifestyle seemed to draw fire; some television viewers were turned off by her May 2012 appearance on the "CBS This Morning" show wearing a $990 Reed Krakoff blouse.