The Spouse Speech

As someone who works with words, I’ve always paid close attention to political speeches because words matter and can make a difference.

Spouse speeches have been a routine part of political conventions and even though they are easily dismissed as solely the carefully-crafted praise of an adoring partner, they can be a political plus.

Ann Romney’s speech Tuesday night was intended to do two things: appeal to women (critical in an election in which Democrats paint Republicans as “warring” on women); and reveal something of the often enigmatic Mitt Romney to America at a time roughly a-third of voters say they don’t know enough about him.

She handled the first part far better than the second.

Her speech was very well written and excellently delivered. She came across as genuine. Her timing was impeccable. She’s a better speaker than her husband.

And the strongest part of her speech was her pitch to women: “It’s the moms of this nation – single, married, widowed – who really hold this country together. We’re the mothers, we’re the wives, we’re the grandmothers, we’re the big sisters, we’re the little sisters, we’re the daughters. You know it’s true don’t you?

“You’re the one who always have to do a little more…We’re too smart to know there aren’t easy answers. But we’re not dumb enough to accept that there aren’t better answers.”

So she sought to bond with and praise all women. She was effective. The question, though, is will her words be remembered?

And the second part of her speech was less effective. There was the expected praise of Mitt as a husband and father and grandfather, as someone she’s been with four decades-plus, as someone she said has always sought to lift other people up.

But there wasn’t a specific thing to grab the attention of people who don’t know him. It was, like much of any political speech, long on song and short on lyrics.

She was very impressive. I just wonder if, in terms of revealing her husband, she left much of an impression.