The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App

At conventions, plenty of outreach to women and Hispanics with little policy detail

The two presidential campaigns have very different views on how to keep Medicare solvent. Dean Reynolds looks into how the federal health insurance program for the elderly under either President Obama or Mitt Romney will work.

(CBS News) At last week's Republican convention, Mitt Romney sought to close large electoral gaps he has with women and Hispanics by highlighting a diverse cast of speakers. Amidst the parade of speakers, however, there was little said specifically about what a Romney presidency would do for these voters. And as the Democratic convention gets underway, it appears to be a repeat of what happened last week: plenty of outreach with scant policy details.

The Republican Party put forward its best and most diverse faces during for last week's nominating party. According to a CBS News tally, nine of the speakers, or 12.5 percent, were Hispanic and 27.7 percent of the speakers were women. 

"That's by design obviously," Hogan Gidley, who ran media operations for Rick Santorum's presidential bid, told CBS News. "These conventions are set to build up and fill in the gaps and allow the nominee to make the ultimate sell for himself."

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane told CBS News that Republicans tried to appeal to suburban voters skeptical of Republican stances on social issues as well as "impact the margins. They need to get the gender gap down to 10 - 12 points. On the Latino piece, they need to get the vote below 65 percent" for Mr. Obama.

The polls show that Romney has some work to do. According to the most recent CBS News poll, President Obama enjoys an 11 percent advantage among women over Romney, and an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll from last month showed Mr. Obama leading Romney 67 percent to 23 percent among Hispanics. 

Romney's Strategy

The most high profile speakers at the Republican convention were tasked with trying to rectify the disparities - not through policy prescriptions but through emotional connection - of women and Hispanics. Viewers heard many personal stories but little about what a Romney candidacy would do for these voters.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a Cuban-American whose family came to the U.S. when he was a young child, spoke about his family's farm in rural Cuba and his grandfather's talks about American greatness. "That's not just my story. That's your story. That's our story," Rubio said on the final night of the Republican convention just before Romney's acceptance speech. 

"And it's the story of a man who was born into an uncertain future in a foreign country. His family came to America to escape revolution," Rubio said of Romney's father who was born and lived in Mexico for some of childhood before his family returned to the United States, attempting to connect Romney to millions of immigrant voters.

"It's the moms who always have to work a little harder, to make everything right," Romney's wife, Ann, said in her speech, which clearly targeted women. "It's the moms of this nation -- single, married, widowed -- who really hold this country together. We're the mothers, we're the wives, we're the grandmothers, we're the big sisters, we're the little sisters, we're the daughters."

Appealing to voters' emotions is less controversial than delving into policy platforms, which explains why neither Rubio nor the handful of other speakers who spoke about their immigrant roots brought up the issue of immigration. Romney's position has been popular among the Republican base but is less likely to receive support from Hispanics and independent voters. During the primaries he backed self-deportation, which includes strict enforcement of immigration laws and increased workplace enforcement.

Furthermore, not one speaker mentioned abortion, an issue that derailed the presidential candidate's laser-focused message on the economy after Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, a Republican, made controversial comments about rape. Akin's comments led to a focus on Paul Ryan's views in which he opposes abortion in all cases, including in cases of rape, incest and the health of the mother.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.