Mitt Romney’s latest campaign video, simply titled “Family,” has a decidedly retro feel — and not just because it consists mostly of silent Super 8 footage and old yellowing family photographs featuring some spectacular ’70s fashions.
The whole image projected in the video by narrator Ann Romney, Mitt’s official Female Ambassador, is evocative of a different era — she describes waiting at home with her sons for Mitt to return from work, at which point he’d become child-like himself — wrestling, throwing balls and pulling pranks.
The video was released just as President Obama wrapped a speech kicking off the White House Forum on Women and the Economy, in which he too talked extensively about family. Both Obama’s speech and Romney’s video painted a picture of two candidates with unquestionable devotion to their families — but the dynamics, and the messengers, were starkly different.
Ann Romney didn’t discuss her own life in the video beyond describing how she cherished the moments spent with her sons and husband.
Obama, on the other hand, introduced Michelle as “the woman who once advised me at the law firm in Chicago where we met;” his mother, he said, was someone “who struggled to put herself through school and make ends meet” and his grandmother “started out on an assembly line” and “rose from being a secretary to being vice president at [a] bank.”
He also may have made a subtle nod to the Romneys’ wealth when he said that Michelle was not only dedicated to her career, but “we didn’t have the luxury for her not to work.”
Obama, notably, spoke to women directly in his speech — using phrases like “you shouldn’t be treated that way” and “like many of you, we both wished there was a machine that could let us be in two places at once.” Romney, as the “Family” video shows, continues to rely on Ann to speak to women on his behalf, rather than engaging with them directly.
Obama and Ann Romney even joked about being outnumbered in their own homes. Ann Romney speaks as the words “Ann and her ‘6 boys’” — five sons, and Mitt — flash across the screen in the video; Obama pointed out that he was raised by “the women who’ve shaped my life” and now lives in a household that is “80 percent women.”
Both candidates are trying to hone their pitches to women in the face of polls that show Obama benefiting from an enormous gender gap.