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Presidential candidates lose at home

Mitt Romney figured very early in the race for the Republican ticket, his wife of four decades - they celebrate their 43rd anniversary on Wednesday - was his best weapon. Yashwant Raj reports.

world Updated: Mar 24, 2012 02:14 IST
Yashwant Raj

Mitt Romney figured very early in the race for the Republican ticket, his wife of four decades - they celebrate their 43rd anniversary on Wednesday - was his best weapon.

Ann Romney is warm and easy with a smile where Romney appears wooden and withdrawn. And now, according to a poll released Wednesday, she is more popular than the candidate.

The same poll also shows Karen Santorum and Callista Gingrich less unpopular than respective husbands - not more popular, but less unpopular, viewed less unfavorably.

First Lady Michelle Obama outshines them all by a huge margin.

The poll by Public Policy Polling showed her approval rating to be 54%, viewed unfavorably by 34%.

"Numbers that outshine the president's numbers by 20 points," the agency said. But Michelle Obama's high approval ratings are the Obama campaign worst-kept secret.

"The Obamas", a book on the Obamas with the focus on the first lady's role in her husband's presidency, recounts how the White House uses her popularity strategically.

Ann Romney - with 31% favorable rating to 22% unfavorable (to Romney's 33/58) - has a similar role in the Romney campaign.

She is the human face of a Wall Street hedge fund predator.

She has introduced Romney at each of his victory speeches, after thanking an army of party officials and local leaders, and gets her own hoots and cheers.

The temperature in the room drops the moment she hands over to the candidate, you can feel it.

Ann Romney has been so good with this, the Gingrich campaign decided to copy.

Callista Gingrich - who the PPP poll showed was viewed favorably only by 18% and unfavorably by 44% - now introduces her husband, the former speaker Newt Gingrich.

They haven't had much success in the primaries unfortunately, and their wife-husband show has often played out in the backdrop of a close to crushing defeat.

Callista Gingrich's unpopularity is surpassed only by her husband's and that's bad news for both. She is a good speaker, like her husband, but she is not cutting.

Karen Santorum, on the other hand - 31% favorable votes to 27 unfavorable - is viewed less favorably compared to her husband (36/58), but her unfavorable votes are a lot less.

She has been a regular on the stage with the candidate, with their children who - unlike those of the Romneys - stay on the stage, right behind Santorum for the entire duration of his speech.

Karen Santorum has lately been on television trying to boost her husband among women voters turned off by his comments on planned parenthood (use of contraceptives).