Up Close with Ann Romney

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Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 4:39 pm | Updated: 12:07 am, Tue Feb 12, 2013.

TAMPA, Fla. - A presidential candidate's wife has proven to be an important component of the total campaign package. She can help show the softer side of the candidate and reach out to women voters. That's just what Ann Romney has been striving to do on the trail.

ABC 7's Hayley Wielgus had the chance to sit down with Romney during one of her stops in the Sunshine State.

We're seeing a lot of Ann Romney the campaign trail lately. That could be because her approval rating has jumped 12 percentage points since April to 52%. She's found a way to talk heart-to-heart with voters, and that's just what she did last week during a stop at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa...appropriately during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It was a campaign trail stop with a personal connection for Ann Romney, who is a breast cancer survivor herself. “It was very inspirational. I was able to sit with a lot of the patients and we made our hope bead together, I got a chance to go around the room and talk to the women that were cancer survivors, breast cancer survivors.”

After Romney shared stories with cancer patients and survivors, she sat down with ABC 7 to talk about her husband's campaign. She says she can feel the change in momentum since Mitt Romney's strong performance in the first debate. “People got to see him how I see him. He's a person that's competent above anything else. He's really been successful in everything he's done in his life. He understands the economy, he understands job creation, but also he's caring. That's what came through for me.”

Since the debate, Romney says people have approached her to say they had planned on voting for President Obama, but have since changed their minds.

Post-debate poll numbers did indicate a shift. A Pew Research Center poll showed Romney swinging from an eight-point deficit in mid-September to a four-point lead. “They're not numbers to us anymore, because we've been on the trail. We've seen the faces of these millions of Americans that are unemployed right now and we've heard them.”

Romney says the issues women are talking about on the campaign trail are different than four years ago. She most often hears stories about unemployment and foreclosure. “This is so universal, what happens to me. At every event this happens, a woman comes up with this look in her face, like, ‘help’.”

Romney feels the economy is the number one issue for women voters. “Women are coming to me and telling me they're afraid. This is going to be an economic election.”

Mitt Romney is making gains with women and voters in swing states. In Florida, the race is extremely tight. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Romney trailing the president by one percentage point.

“I feel like the energy is here, the passion is here. I think people need to really understand…I think not to pay attention to those negative ads. Those really bother me.”

But what Romney hopes voters will pay attention to is what she describes as her husband's compassionate leadership. “They have to look at the candidate, look what he says, look at the conviction that comes from his heart and understand that this is a guy that cares and is confident.”

In addition to being a breast cancer survivor, Ann Romney is also living with multiple sclerosis. She said during her stop at Moffitt, cancer and MS would be two of the issues she would focus on if she becomes the first lady.

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