What a Candidate's Wife Must Do at a Political Convention

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama chat as they walk to the White House in Washington, DC. (JEWEL SAMAD/Getty)

The role of the candidate's wife has evolved over time, but at political conventions, she is often called upon to "soften" her husband, to "humanize" him, to show the voters that her husband is more than just a politician. 

This was certainly Ann Romney's approach at last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa. "I can tell you why I fell in love with him," Ann told the audience. "He was tall, laughed a lot. He was nervous: girls like that. It shows a guy's a little intimidated. He was nice to my parents but he was really glad when they weren't around. But more than anything, he made me laugh."

Michelle Obama incurred a great deal of criticism throughout the 2008 campaign, particularly after she told a Milwaukee crowd that, because of American support for her husband, "For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country." The soon-to-be first lady soon retreated from politics, dedicating her 2008 DNC speech to Obama's character. "What struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name and even grew up across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine," she said. "He was raised by grandparents who were working class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did." 

How does the First Lady's speech 2012 DNC speech compare to Ann Romney's, and to Michelle Obama's speech in 2008? Juana Summers, national political reporter for Politico, and Takeaway Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich, explain. 


Juana Summers and Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Comments [3]

eddiedetroit from Ann Arbor

Michele was more honest. They both sort of "humanized" the object but if you belive Mitt and Ann ate off of ironing boards or ate a lot of tuna or worried about student loans or lived in what most of us think of as a "basement" apartment I got a bridge over the Detroit River I want to sell you.

Sep. 07 2012 03:48 PM

What if she doesn't have a wife?

This article should refer to a *male candidate's wife.* That would properly frame both the sexist assumptions that go into judging such a figure and underline that the word candidate is actually an ungendered term that doesn't shut out the more educated 51% of the populace.

Sep. 05 2012 03:54 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn,N.Y.

Michelle did a great job last night.

As a Collectibles Dealer, and Flea Market Vendor, I was totally excited to find out that Obama pulled out a coffee table from a dumpster. I bet it was a cool one worth some bucks.

Why was Obama's favorite shoes a size too small. Did it come from the same dumpster?

I also liked the detail of the rusted car that you can see the road...Watch out for the pebbles that shoot up at you on the highway!

Now that I know he is a dumpster diver, I want a special tax break as an environmentalist... I save the planet and the landfills, one old coffee table at a time.

Sep. 05 2012 09:41 AM

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