Much noise and kerfuffle has been whipped up about the contraception debate. Is it a war against women? Or a war against religion? Or a war against freedom?
Probably it is all of the above.
However, what trumps all of the above is “jobs and the economy.”
And Ann Romney is right. Women care about jobs. It is the women who care for their aged parents. The women who hold primary responsibility for their children. The women who fret about their grandchildren’s future. And the women who dominate the health care and nursing home caregiver industries.
And it is often the women whose job is the only one putting bread on the table. Single head of households are often women. Divorced. Never married. Widowed. They need work. They fear debt and the loss of their homes or eviction from apartments.
And it is increasingly the women who are sleeping in their cars and under the bridges in our major cities. It is the women who are carrying bottles to the recycling centers to provide money for their own households or underfunded schools.
And it is the women who are the majority of voters and volunteers. Hence, the “wars” to define what politicians want women to believe.
Truth is, women already know their own minds. Their focus is their family. Their friends. Their neighbors. And all of them have felt the hot breath of a debt collector or heartless bank—or know someone who has. Pretending things are better is a non-starter.
Trying to distract them from the realities of economic hardship with wedge issues is hypocrisy at its worst. They need help—not hype.
Enter Ann Romney, possibly the best asset the Republicans have fielded this election cycle. She has taken up the task of bringing women back into the Republican fold—especially independent women.
She introduces her husband at campaign stops. She rolls out an impressive list of “thank yous” on primary-night wins—without the use of notes, inked palms or a teleprompter. And her connection with the camera can only be called “telegenic.”
Why the campaign waited so long to use her talents is a mystery, unless she herself was reticent. As she admits, she said, “never again” after the last campaign.
Ann Romney has come into greater public view since the debates—shortly after her husband began floundering. Her seating in the front rows, with direct eye contact with her husband, seemed to steady him and improve his performance.
Her casual chic style and real-mom grace provided a warmth to the candidate and his message heretofore missing. Watch any clip of her among voters. The smile is genuine. The curiosity and interest real. And the reaction to her is irresistible. To use an old fashioned word, she is “winsome.”
Why, one asks, does she so easily mix and mingle when her husband seems so reserved and almost frightened of people?
Perhaps it was her bouts with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis that have humbled her and made her connection with voters more instinctive and genuine. Perhaps it is her equestrian therapy that makes her so at ease amid the rumble—exuding an almost existential peace.
Indeed, many would argue that she is a natural politician.
That is why is was almost out of character when she told Michigan voters to “wake up” as it became alarmingly clear that her husband’s nomination might be in jeopardy.
It was what Sarah Palin might call Ann Romney’s “Mama Grizzly” moment. And every woman knows someone—regardless of political persuasion—who would be grateful to have a woman like Mrs. Romney protecting them.
The Great Recession is humbling us all. And champions, in either party, are hard to come by.