Can Ann Romney make Mitt loveable?

Mitt Romney waves to the crowd - his wife Ann and son Tagg are at left. To his right are his grandchildren. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks after the polls close on Super Tuesday at the Westin Copley Place in Boston, Mass. on Tuesday, March 6, 2012.
Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Ann and Mitt Romney
Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

(CBS News) Tampa, Fla. - This week, amid the pomp and pageantry of the Republican National Convention, speakers from across the GOP will take to the stage to sell Mitt Romney's vision for the future. But one speaker faces a special challenge: Ann Romney, prospective first lady and wife of the soon-to-be nominee, doesn't just have to sell Romney's vision - she's also got to sell his personality.

"She obviously thinks he's a wonderful husband and father, and she thinks he would make a great president," said Karen Hughes, a strategist and former campaign director for the George W. Bush campaign. "In some ways her job is to illuminate for the rest of us what made him a wonderful husband and father. What drives him? What is about it that she loves?"

"She knows him better than anybody else," Hughes said. "Her speech should try to open a window into his heart."

Throughout the presidential campaign, Romney has grappled with a seeming opaqueness of character. Seemingly reticent to discuss his faith and family history, the former Massachusetts governor has shaped his political chronicle around his background in business -- a stark contrast from President Obama, whose own political narrative is grounded in his personal history.

Amid character assaults from Democrats, who paint Romney as a political shape-shifter who is insensitive to the needs of the middle-class, the candidate has struggled to connect with voters on the trail. 

A new CBS News poll out Tuesday shows that half of registered voters think that Mitt Romney does not understand their problems, reflecting an empathy gap with President Obama as Romney prepares for his acceptance speech at the Republican nominating convention. 

"I don't think everybody likes me," Romney told Politico in an interview on Monday. "I know there are some people who do a very good job acting and pretend they're something they're not."

"You get what you see," he added. "I am who I am."

Giving Romney a "family face"

Romney doesn't necessarily have to feel voters' pain, analysts say. But he does have to show them who he is.

"Not everybody has to like him, but it's important that he be known," said Noelia Rodriguez, former press secretary and director of communications for Laura Bush.

"Some people are just natural-born nerds and there's a place for those people," she continued. "But voters need to know Romney's not being cared for by servants 24 hours a day. They need to know that he knows how to wash dishes and clean up after himself. It matters that people know who he is, and that includes who he is in his downtime. And Mrs. Romney is the one who knows him best in that way."