Flanked by three of her eighteen grandchildren, Ann Romney told a crowd of supporters yesterday afternoon in Littleton that her husband is a compassionate man who doesn't fail. Her rally for Mitt on the eve of the high-stakes presidential debate in Denver shed light on the significance of Colorado in the final weeks of the race as well as the prospective first lady's role in selling the Republican presidential candidate as a caring family man.
With a focus on personal anecdotes, and with the help of three slightly squirmy grandchildren by her side (a fourth, age four, stayed behind due to last-minute stage-fright), Ann Romney's emphasis on humanizing Mitt was clear during the rally.
She delivered the roughly fifteen-minute speech to a crowd that has had plenty of opportunities to support the Republican ticket up close. Mitt Romney rallied with John Elway in Denver on Monday night -- just a week after the former Massachusetts governor spoke to thousands in Jefferson County. Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has made several stops in Colorado and Romney and Obama will meet face-to-face in the first presidential debate tonight at DU.
"I have a few companions with me here," Ann Romney told the crowd, gesturing toward the grandchildren by her side.
"Come back -- we're gonna say hello!" she said, as one wandered away from her.
"These are three of the eighteen," Romney continued to loud applause from the crowd packed into the Hudson Gardens and Event Center. "It's fun to have them with us. They are always entertaining and always funny."
One of them, she recalled, recently asked her husband, "Have you beaten Obama yet?... What's taking so long?"
Another recently said to her, "If you win, will I see you as much?"
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After some "awws" from the crowd, Romney said: "And I thought and I said, 'No, sweetie, you won't.' And then she said, 'I don't think I want you to win.' Then she thought and then she said, 'You know, I think that papa needs to be president...because I think the country needs him and the country's in trouble.' So this little eight-year-old figured it out.
"Kids say the darndest things, as you know!" Romney added.
In her speech, Romney spoke very little about policy, instead focusing on memories of her husband and his role in the family. Throughout the campaign, the presidential candidate has depended on his family as important surrogates that can help humanize him at rallies and events all over the country and in key swing states.
As national outlets have noted, Ann has also taken on a role as more of a defender of her husband and a cheerleader for women voters in the final weeks before election day.
"I'm grateful that we had the convention and that there were people that stood up and said, 'I am sick and tired of hearing about Mitt being mischaracterized. I'm going to stand up and I'm going to tell you about the person that I know,'" she said.
"In Colorado, you know you need someone that has compassion and that has the capacity to understand what people are going through, to have the solutions and to get the job done," she noted. "Do you know one thing I know about Mitt? He doesn't fail."
Romney ended her speech by warning of the impending doom that could result from four more years of Barack Obama: "We feel as though that light -- that shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan spoke of -- is dimming. We sense that there is an absolute necessity to restore the founding principles that made this nation great. We're excited about the future.... And we are going to join with you in making sure that Colorado helps us win this election."
Continue reading for more photos and reflections from supporters. If Ann Romney's job is to show voters the human side of Mitt, Karolee McLaughlin, 58, thinks she's doing it right.
"I wasn't really sold on Mitt, but she did a really great job of showing everyone who he is," said McLaughlin, referring to Ann's speech at the Republican National Convention. "The other side has polarized women by picking out small social issues -- and that's what they are, small social issues.... So having her out here telling her story is important."
McLaughlin, who is decked out in Romney pins -- which she even put on her service dog -- added, "I'm very proud of her."
Bonnie Shaw, 65, who lives in Denver, said that people just need to see past Obama's charm.
"President Obama is a handsome, talented man," she said, "but we need someone who can get to the bottom of this."
Shaw doesn't believe reports that Romney is falling behind, in part, because she thinks some are hesitant to be loud about their support for the Republican candidate.
"It's very difficult to go away from what we think is very mainstream," she said, adding, "I think the whole 'women thing' is very manufactured."
Echoing the theory of Fox News analyst Dick Morris , she said that ultimately, "When you go to the polls, more Republican voters will be there -- men or women."
Continue for more comments from supporters and photos from the rally. Hollis Moore, 37, who brought her eighteen-month old, Phoebe -- "she's a GOP baby!" -- said she is sick of the "fabricated war on women."
"It's just ridiculous," said Moore, of Englewood. "Obama can't run on his record, so he has to create this [war on women]."
Evelyn Zur, a 73-year-old supporter in attendance, sported a "I support the Rocky Mountain Black Tea Party" T-shirt, which said on the back "Black & Conservative are NOT mutually exclusive."
Though she is not black herself, she said that more and more minorities are realizing that Obama has failed them.
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"Black voters are going to come out for Obama and so are Hispanic voters," said Zur, a furniture sales representative. "All they have to do is look at where they are. Are they better off? They are doing worse.... There are less jobs."
Being dependent on government is "not American," she said. "People need to open their eyes and listen." Continue for more photos from the rally. Continue for more photos.
More from our Politics archive: "Scott Gessler to share conservative voter-fraud panel with controversial True the Vote group"