Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Romney Lovebirds

One of the most revealing moments of the 2004 Bush-Kerry debates came at the end of the third one, when moderator Bob Schieffer asked, "We’re all married to strong women. Each of us have two daughters that make us very proud. I’d like to ask each of you, what is the most important thing you’ve learned from these strong women?"

Bush answered first, with the perfect blend of warmth and sincerity that conveyed love for his better half. He cited a few anecdotes, including the way they met, and concluded, “I guess you would say it was love at first sight.”

Kerry, on the other hand, began with a tribute to his recently deceased mother, inserted a line about being humbled and “blessed” by his daughters and wife, and then concluded by lauding not his family but the guy he was running against.

If you’re wondering why Bush carried the soccer mom vote, look no further.

I was reminded of this exchange in watching a recent clip of a Larry King interview with Mitt Romney and his wife. It's only two minutes, but when Romney’s not praising his partner—“She’s . . . my best counselor. . . . There’s no personnel-type issue that I don’t ask Ann’s advice [about]. . . . She’s very good at assessing qualities of character and heart”—he’s gazing at her, torso tilted, as enraptured as he was the day he proposed. He beams with pride, both of her and to be in her presence. This is a man who adores his wife.

It’s worth noting that the two times I’ve seen the Romneys in person (both in DC), they were holding hands. Similarly, in contrast to the other candidates, most (all?) of Romney’s TV spots end with a picture of them both.

Indeed, of the 2008 Republican presidential front-runners (once, current and future)—George Allen, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson—Romney (the Mormon, no less) is the only one who’s only had one wife. They were high-school sweethearts and have been married for almost 40 years.