Romney's wife appeals to women; could help close female voter gap

Posted August 28, 2012 5:59 p.m. EDT
Updated August 29, 2012 12:32 a.m. EDT

— No one knows Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney like his wife of four decades.

On Tuesday night, in a heartfelt, personal speech, Ann Romney shared her husband with the nation, talked openly about their marriage and appealed to women voters – wives and mothers who "hold the nation together."

The former Massachusetts governor is eager to attract more support from female voters. Polls show President Barack Obama with an eight-point lead over Romney in that demographic. 

On the first night of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Ann Romney assured women that her husband can be trusted with the decisions that matter most. 

"As a wife, as a mother, as a grandmother and as an American, I give you this solemn commitment: This man will not fail," she said.

She shared touching moments of the couple's life together – from the moment they met in the late 1960s at a high school dance to the present, in which their bond has been tested by Ann Romney's battles with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Through it all, she said, "(Mitt) still makes me laugh."

It was a passionate and convincing endorsement of Romney the man, not the politician. 

"No one will work harder. No one will care more. No one will move heaven and earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live," she said.

Changing Romney's image among women, which has been tarnished somewhat by an aggressive pro-life movement within the Republican Party and recent remarks about "legitimate rape" from Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, could be essential to winning the White House, CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Scheiffer said Tuesday afternoon.

"When Ann Romney takes the stage, there's one goal: to humanize her husband," he said.

Two North Carolina delegates said they think Romney is simply misunderstood by women.

"Mitt Romney is a likable guy. He just needs to reach out to women and show them where his heart is," said delegate Dena Barnes. "Sometimes, I think it's just about the communication, and that's the key."

Delegate Ann Sullivan said she questions the accuracy of polls that show Romney struggling to gain female support.

"That's Prince Charming in my book," she said. "He's the ideal man."