- The Washington Times - Monday, August 27, 2012

She is a gracious warrior with a kind face, a polished demeanor and the inner mettle of a survivor. Ann Romney has been called the secret weapon of her husband’s campaign, and he adores her: When Mitt Romney strides to the podium to introduce his wife of 43 years, he calls her “sweetheart.” She smiles. The crowd goes crazy.

And why shouldn’t they? Though the Romneys could emerge as the nation’s No. 1 power couple, there is a certain authenticity about them, built over decades around family and faith. She is confidante and counsel, trustworthy stalwart and humanizing companion — ready to step before a global audience on Tuesday evening at the Republican National Convention and tell the world what she knows about her husband: He’s a good man, a smart man. And he’s ready to be president.

Much is riding on her speech, which has won cheerful accolades from Mr. Romney himself.

“I spent a Monday morning with the Romneys at their summer home in New Hampshire. It is quickly apparent how close a partnership they have, and how much he relies on her,” said Fox News Sunday anchorman Chris Wallace, who recently strolled the shores of sparkling Lake Winnipesaukee with the couple, talking politics over a pancake breakfast.

“The governor said she advises him on everything — from strategy to staff to policy. He said she has ‘great instincts’ about how something will appear to different groups of people across the country. And he values her input,” Mr. Wallace said.

The members of the extended Romney clan are close. They can be raucous. But it is Mrs. Romney who understands that politics at its best can be a true calling. She herself calls it “destiny” and is convinced that her husband can save America.

“The Romneys had a family meeting a couple of years ago about whether he should run again for president. It was the governor and Mrs. Romney, their five sons, and the five daughters-in-law. The vote was 10-2 against running,” Mr. Wallace recalled. “The two in favor were Mrs. Romney and their oldest son, Tagg. She said, ‘You’ve got to run. The country needs you, especially with the economy in such trouble.’ She persuaded him to make another race for president.”

The concept of a Romney White House already has journalists speculating about the style and substance of a couple who are traditional, determined and driven by a sense of obligation to creed and country. There’s also some unkind coverage percolating about the couple, and little promise of a media honeymoon should the Republican win the election. But a USAToday/Gallup poll released Monday finds that a mere 24 percent of the respondents had an unfavorable impression of Mrs. Romney, on par, the research said, “with other potential first ladies about to make their first convention appearances.”

It would appear that, like her husband, Mrs. Romney is ready for the role.

“I spent some time with Mrs. Romney on the campaign bus in Iowa and was thoroughly impressed. She is truly a wonderful woman with an inspiring personal story. Like Mrs. Obama, I have no doubt she would be a wonderful first lady,” said CNN anchorman Wolf Blitzer.

The evolving wife

Mrs. Romney has earned her stripes as a political spouse.

Consider that in 2008, an eager Mitt Romney threw his hat into the big ring, only to yank it back after a few weeks when he lost to Sen. John McCain in the New Hampshire primary. His wife vowed never to venture on the campaign trail again after that. But some part of her was not done with it. She looked heavenward for guidance, she mulled over the practical possibilities. Mrs. Romney embraced a second run for the White House with zeal, driven, friends have suggested, by her own prayers, and by the intimate belief in her husband’s acumen as a businessman and his ability to return the nation to its true bearings.

She’s ready to rumble.

Mrs. Romney has publicly acknowledged that she is at the convention to “unzip Mitt,” to act in the role of a “Mittigator” who brings out the greater dimensions of her candidate husband. The Romney campaign sees her as a major asset on the podium, and she has reached a certain hallmark of public importance. Mrs. Romney now has Secret Service protection as well.

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