Female trouble for Mitt Romney

A few months ago it seemed Mitt Romney would easily win over women. He and his good looks consistently ranked number one in polls and it looked as if the presumptive candidate would run a tough race with President Obama among female voters. Times have changed. Romney rival Rick Santorum has done surprisingly well among women, particularly marrieds, and the latest polls show that Romney is far behind Obama when it comes to the ladies: USA Today and Gallup show Obama up by 18 points among the demographic in 12 battleground states. The same poll showed in February that Romney was up by two.

This obviously is not good news for Romney’s campaign, which is why they’re now relying more on his wife, Ann Romney, to bolster support. Politico reports Mrs. Romney will be taking a far larger role in the campaign, hoping to use family stories and personal recollections to make Mitt, a man often confused with a robot, seem more human. But the biggest challenge to her campaign may be her husband himself:

[Ann Romney’s] contribution to Mitt Romney’s campaign could amount to the most relevant role a wife has ever played in a presidential effort — softening the edges of a flawed and awkward candidate who struggles to connect with voters.

The Romney inner circle is well aware of Ann Romney’s potential – but has long resisted any strategy that would separate the couple for extended periods because of the negative impact it has on the candidate.

“I think you try to do both, but we don’t want a situation where they’re apart for three weeks,” Tagg Romney, the couple’s eldest son, said in an interview.

“You can tell when she’s off the trail for too long — my dad has got some sharper edges. He’s a little less patient. … She’ll say, ‘Oh, don’t sweat it, you don’t need to worry about that,’ and distract him. We always call her the dad stabilizer. He needs to be with her.”

Actually, the fact that Romney is so flawed, and apparently stumbles when Ann is not around, may actually be good for his White House race: his apparent devotion and dependence on his wife makes him seem more relatable. He’s a man who loves his wife and needs her near him — that’s a pretty endearing quality for conservative voters. Whether women at large are as charmed, of course, remains to be seen.