NRD Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at TheHill.com.
By Rick Manning — In November, the presidential election is likely going to come down to a left brain-versus-right brain decision.
Obama’s campaign, desperate to change the subject from anything related to his actual job performance, has engaged in a summer ad spending spree attempting to define Mitt Romney as a greedy, out-of-touch, selfish operator who will enrich his friends at the expense of the rest of America.
Romney, on the other hand, has successfully tied the economy and American’s general dissatisfaction with the direction of the country to Obama.
The rational side of the brain tells voters that Obama has failed, the economy is terrible and they can’t trust the data being fed to them by the government statisticians because it doesn’t reflect what they see in their own lives.
Between parents having their college graduates come home to occupy what Mom had hoped to be a sewing room, $50 minimum to fill up at the gas station and a general feeling that things are worse than they were before Obama took office, voters are ready to fire the incumbent.
Is there any doubt why Obama desperately wants voters to focus on Romney’s tax returns, and the oft-repeated scare tactic that the Ryan Medicare plan will hurt seniors? Obama has to shift the focus off of his own performance and onto making Romney an unsympathetic, untrustworthy character.
Romney, on the other hand, has to at least narrow the likability gap between himself and Obama.
Because Obama’s real chance for reelection is that for some reason, people like him and want to believe in him. Even when all the objective evidence screams that he either doesn’t have a clue what he is doing or is so ideologically driven that he doesn’t care about the havoc that he is wreaking on the economy, people like him.
That’s why Ann Romney might be the most important speaker at next week’s Republican convention. She is the only one who can credibly tell the Mitt Romney story and narrow the likability gap.
No matter what it takes or whose ego gets bruised, the Romney campaign has to get Ann Romney into a nationally televised convention slot.
It is Ann Romney who can talk about a life of public service with no expectation of personal gain. Only she can give personal anecdotes that humanize the somewhat plastic-looking Mitt. It is Ann Romney who, through her eyes, can help America see the Mitt she fell in love with and has stayed married to for more than 40 years.
Ultimately, America doesn’t need to see why Chris Christie likes Mitt Romney; it needs to hear Ann Romney tell their family story.
America deserves to be introduced to the man who would be president by the person who knows him best, rather than solely through smarmy 30-second attack ads. After hearing Ann Romney speak, America’s right brain just might be more comfortable with what its left brain has been telling it. And that’s what Obama fears most.
Rick Manning is the communications director of Americans for Limited Government — all views expressed are his own.