Ann Romney is assured a prime-time network speaking slot in the revamped speaking schedule for next week’s Republican National Convention. Organizers moved presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s wife from Monday — when the three networks said they would offer no comprehensive prime-time coverage — to Tuesday, when NBC, ABC and CBS all pledged to offer at least an hour of programming from the Tampa convention.
By moving the time slot for Romney’s wife, the Republicans solidified a prime-time lineup that tilts heavily toward attracting support from two key groups — women and Latinos — while also tending to the candidate’s sizable likability deficit.
Political analysts agree that Romney needs more women and Latinos to come to his corner to beat President Obama on Nov. 6.
Joining Ann Romney on the Tuesday night schedule will be Luce Vela Fortuno, the first lady of Puerto Rico, and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
On Wednesday night, presumptive vice presidential nominee Paul D. Ryan will follow two of the Republican Party’s most prominent women, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico. Martinez’s paternal grandparents migrated from Mexico. Her husband is a law enforcement veteran.
On Thursday night, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida will get a prime-time position before Romney’s acceptance speech. Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants and for months was viewed as the front-runner to be Romney’s vice presidential running mate.
Romney has lagged with women voters (the most recent Gallup tracking poll shows a 8% deficit among women, with an 8% advantage among men). The articulate and attractive Ann Romney should appeal to women. More importantly, her job with all voters is to deliver a human portrait of her husband.
If the Republican candidate has a gender gap problem, he has a likability chasm. The same Gallup survey, out Friday, showed that 54% of Americans found Obama more likable when asked to compare the two men. Only 31% found Romney more likable. His wife’s task Tuesday night will be to try to close that gap, at least a little.