Ann Romney speaks to a crowd at an Elizabethtown College rally in Elizabethtown,… (Dan Marschka / [Lancaster,…)
ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. — Ann Romney called it a "myth" that her husband has veered to the right over the years, insisting there is little difference between the moderate figure who was governor of Massachusetts and the conservative who is running for president.
"It's true there have been a few changes, but really not very many," Ann Romney told the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., in an interview. "They like to create this myth and he really has been very consistent."
She blamed the Obama campaign and the news media for the perception that Mitt Romney is a business tycoon with little understanding of the concerns of most Americans.
"It's a billion dollars spent on that narrative, on negative ads," she said. "A media that is not particularly friendly, that wants to promote that narrative as well."
Democrats, following the lead of Romney's Republican primary foes in 2008 and 2012, have slammed the GOP presidential nominee for changing his positions on abortion, healthcare and other issues to appeal to the party's conservative base.
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Ann Romney said she told her husband after he lost the race for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 that she'd never do a grueling national campaign again. Now she is back at it, crisscrossing the country with her own staff and keeping a pace almost as harried as her husband's.
Her role is to present the loving husband and father she knows, rather than the corporate millionaire that opinion polls show most people see.
She pushed campaign advisors before the first debate, news reports say, to allow her husband to show a softer, more moderate side. She said that the debate — widely regarded as a win for the GOP nominee — allowed voters to see an "unfiltered" Mitt Romney.
"It was very heartwarming to see the response to him was so good. Finally," she said in the interview on Monday. "I was waiting for a very long time for that moment, for him to be seen in a light that I see him."
Ann Romney said her husband is not doing anything differently to prepare for the second debate, even though President Obama is expected to be more aggressive and on point. She said Mitt Romney is prepared.
After the interview, Ann Romney spoke to several hundred people at a "Women for Romney" event at Elizabethtown College. She told stories that emphasized her spouse's more compassionate side.
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She spoke at length about his being at the bedside of a young boy stricken with cancer — a poignant story the boy's parents had shared at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
After the event, Valerie Shapella of Lancaster said she came out because she "wanted [the Romneys] to know there are people in Pennsylvania who strongly support them."
Patricia Batdorf, 69, of Bethel, Berks County, echoed that but worried that urban votes in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for Obama would outweigh the rural votes in central Pennsylvania for Romney.
"Her husband has great ideas," she said. "Our country needs jobs, jobs, jobs. I have family members who are out of work, and unemployment for 99 weeks is not a future."
Mitt Romney has visited the state six times this year — Obama has been to Pennsylvania twice — but the Republicans have not invested here as they have in swing states such as Ohio and Virginia. A new Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll put Obama ahead by four points in Pennsylvania, within the survey's margin of error.
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State Republicans have implored the Romney campaign to make a play for the Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, despite the state's recent record of voting for Democrats for president.
Ann Romney insisted in the interview that her visit was evidence that the state was now "in play" politically, even if it wasn't before.
"It's important that I'm here, that people in Pennsylvania know it's a competitive race again," she said. "That we're here. That we recognize that. And that it's an important election. I think people need to not think that this state is not a possibility for a win for us."
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