All the Presidents' wives

One of the latest distractions in the presidential campaign – or at least an attempt at a distraction – came in the form of a recent interview on Iowa’s KWQC TV6 news with Ann Romney. In it, the reporter attempted to gin up some ratings by tossing out a few “hot button” social issue questions to Mitt’s wife. It was a game attempt to see if they could stir up some controversy by getting the candidate’s wife to differ with her husband on elements of the social conservative platform, or at least drag the topic off the economy. It didn’t end well for the reporter.

Ann Romney told KWQC TV6 news Friday that birth control and gay marriage are issues that “distract from what the real voting issue is going to be at this election.” Mrs. Romney says the election is about “the economy and jobs.” …

When asked if she believes a lesbian mother should be allowed to marry her partner, Mrs. Romney said, “I’m not going to talk about the specific issues. I’m going to let my husband speak on issues.”

When asked if she believes that employer-provided health insurance should be required to cover birth control, Mrs. Romney said “Again, you’re asking me questions that are not about what this election is going to be about. This election is going to be about the economy and jobs.”

“I’m here to really just talk about my husband and what kind of husband and father he is and, you know, those [birth control and gay marriage] are hot-button issues that distract from what the real voting issue is going to be at this election.”

Doug Mataconis smells something rotten.

We’ve seen episodes like this before. Reporters have asked Barbara Bush, and Elizabeth Dole, and Laura Bush, and Cindy McCain their opinion on these hot button social issues, and they only do it for one reason. It has nothing to do with uncovering some relevant fact about the man who is actually running for President, but with trying to create a “story” by attempting to uncover some area where the candidate and his spouse may disagree on these issues. Even if that’s the case, who the heck cares? Ann Romney is an adult who is entitled to her own opinions, and she’s also entitled to refuse to be used as a pawn by a reporter trying to create a controversy out of something completely irrelevant. If you want to know something relevant about birth control and the race for the Presidency, ask Mitt Romney or his campaign. Asking his wife for her personal opinion is just idiotic, and it’s so far from being good journalism that it isn’t even funny.

In this case, Doug is exactly correct. Clearly the Democrats (and many of their allies in the media) were taken by surprise at how effective Ann Romney has been as a surrogate and speaker on her husband’s behalf, not to mention her incredible popularity with voters. But as with all family members of politicians, Ann has more options than her husband. Should she wish to not be involved in the campaign, the media has no right to badger her. And if she does want to campaign, she is free to set her own agenda as to what she chooses to discuss. We, as voters, are entitled to ask Mitt Romney any questions we wish when evaluating him for the job he seeks. But Ann Romney’s positions on the issues are her own. She won’t be making policy once Mitt is in office, and if she chooses to show the back of her hand to a reporter trying to pump some venom into the news cycle, that’s her choice as well. She’s there to talk about the man… her husband and the father of their children. And apparently that’s all she’s going to talk about.

I have to admit, the R&R team is clearly looking several moves ahead in this game of political chess. A moment on local TV which could have turned into yet another kerfuffle was fairly deftly swatted aside.