Image via Wikimedia Commons/ Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons license

 

It’s no secret that GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney has some issues. He’s the front-runner in a field of less-than-perfect Republican candidates, and he’s got a little bit too much of the Al Gore thing going in his campaign. You know what I’m talking about — he’s a not comfortable in crowds, he doesn’t make small talk well and seems to save his sense of humor for when the camera is off. The good news is that at least so far, the Romneys haven’t had that Al and Tipper “kiss” moment that still lives in political infamy.

None of those things alone is a candidacy killer, but in combination they can be the kiss of death.

Remember Senator John Kerry? For a variety of reasons, he also failed to connect on a gut level with voters, and his presidential bid failed because of that. There are many signs that Romney is headed down that same path. And seeing that, the campaign is trying to turn Mitt’s wife, Ann, into their new “secret weapon.”

Ann is going gangbusters when it comes to engaging crowds on the campaign trail. She has that magic “X” factor that her husband lacks when it comes to connecting with voters. And it looked like giving Ann a more prominent role on the campaign was a great idea. That is until Romney’s campaign released this video:

It’s hard to imagine Mitt as “naughty,” isn’t it? I can see what they’re trying to do with this video. It certainly isn’t “The Man from Hope,” but America always likes the family man story line and lots of pictures of small children. But Romney is trying too hard with this one.  Through Ann, he’s trying to convince us of the thing that he can’t show us — that there’s a human side to the seemingly stiff, multimillionaire who thinks that living off one’s investments qualifies as being unemployed.

This Romney campaign ad seemed like nothing out of the ordinary until Ann’s comments about Mitt being like her sixth son. Having Ann wax nostalgic about how managing him was like dealing with one of their rowdy sons isn’t really the kind of thing you want your wife saying during a campaign. It doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the candidate when you have his wife talking about having to keep him in line as she did with the kids. But the tone of the ad does reinforce for me the idea that it’s not really Mitt who wants to be President — it feels like Ann is the one driving their efforts to move into the White House. But she’ can’t put her husband there either as the out of touch Leave it to Beaver-era candidate or with campaign ads that portray Mitt as a happy prankster and fun-loving jokester.

Finding the right narrative for a presidential candidate isn’t a hard one — you have to authentically present an image that will resonate with voters, and that’s different for each candidate. If Romney really wants a chance at the big prize, he needs to brush up on the campaigns of Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Whether you liked them or not, each one had that certain magic that made voters feel a personal connection. Whether that’s how we should elect a president or not, that’s how it is these days.

But having his wife talk about how, as a husband, he was just her naughty sixth son isnt’ going to make him look presidential to anyone. If he keeps relying on his his wife to convince voters that he’s their man, he’s going to have more time on his hands than he thinks for renovating that little “beach house.”