The Salt
12:17 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Before Her Big GOP Convention Speech, Ann Romney Lets Them Eat Cake

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 9:37 am

It's a big night for Ann Romney.

She's addressing the Republican National Convention in Tampa at 10 p.m. Eastern, in a speech many pundits see as her big chance to combat her husband's "likability gap" and convince voters that Mitt the man is more than just a "rich guy."

So how does she handle the stress? Apparently, she bakes.

On the flight down from Boston to Tampa today, the Republican presidential candidate's wife handed out Welsh cakes, made according to her grandmother's recipe, which she shared with us earlier this year. The small round cookies have a "texture somewhere between shortbread and a scone," reports NPR White House Correspondent Ari Shapiro, who sampled the goods on the plane.

"Instead of working on my speech, which [senior campaign adviser] Stuart [Stevens] and I have now gotten down to a tweet," Romney joked with reporters, "I decided I was so excited to be home that I just loved to do what I love to do, which is bake."

Romney's comment, coming on the eve of her big moment in the campaign spotlight, stands in sharp contrast to how another then-potential first lady handled her growing public profile 20 years ago.

In 1992, Hillary Clinton stepped into a political minefield when she famously quipped that she "could have stayed home and baked cookies" instead of pursuing a professional career. That old (and oversimplified) working-women v. stay-at-home mom campaign trail debate was reopened earlier this year, after a Democratic consultant tweeted that Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life."

Ann Romney certainly has her work cut out for her now. As Chris Cillizza over at The Fix reports:

"New numbers from a Washington Post-ABC News poll paint Romney's challenge in stark terms. Six in ten registered voters said that Romney's policies in office would favor the wealthy while 30 percent said he would look more favorably on the middle class. (Six in ten voters said Obama's policies would favor the middle class.)"

And a poll out Tuesday from CBS News finds Romney also suffers from a "empathy gap:"

"Only 41 percent of Americans said Romney understands their needs and problems, compared to 54 percent who feel Mr. Obama understands their needs and problems."

One can only assume Ann Romney hopes tonight's speech is as effective at winning people over as her Welsh cakes. As Ari Shapiro tells The Salt, they're delicious: "I could definitely eat these every day for lunch."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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