Strong Women Speak at the Republican National Convention

Tuesday night brought the first evening session of the Republican National Convention, and with it, speeches from countless conservatives, including many conservative women. In fact, nine of the seventeen speeches given during the evening program were given by women. By the end of the evening, two appearances seem to garner more praise than the rest: one from a relative newcomer, the other from a seasoned campaigner. Of course, I’m speaking of Mia Love and Ann Romney.

If you didn’t watch the convention coverage you may be thinking, “Who is Mia Love?” If that’s the case, allow her to introduce herself:

Mia Love Intro

 

Mia is currently the mayor of Saratoga Springs, a town of 18,000 people located 35 miles south of Salt Lake City. She is running for congress, and if victorious Mia would become the first black conservative woman to be elected to the House of Representatives.
Mia’s parents came to America from Haiti in the 1970s. As she stated in her opening remarks, “My parents immigrated to the U.S. with ten dollars in their pocket, believing that the America they had heard about really did exist. When times got tough they didn't look to Washington, they looked within.” Not one to pull punches, Mia took on the Obama Presidency, saying “We are not better off than we were 4 years ago, and no rhetoric, bumper sticker, or campaign ad can change that. Mr. President I am here to tell you we are not buying what you are selling in 2012.” Although her time on stage was brief, she was a perfect choice for the leadoff speaker position. Her energy was palpable within the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and the crowd was clearly enamored by this newcomer.

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Ann Romney also captured the attention of the thousands gathered in the Forum, and although there were spirited moments, what struck me as a live observer was how often a hush fell over the crowd as they were pulled in to her story. While some were concerned Mrs. Romney didn’t lay out any of her husband’s intended plans or policies, that clearly was not her purpose in speaking. Ann’s job was to share with America the love she has for her husband, and to energize and embrace the women in the audience. Addressing the women, Ann declared, “You are the best of America. You are the hope of America. There would not be an America without you. Tonight, we salute you and sing your praises.” As she spoke about the hardships many face in today’s economy, she delivered one of her most-quoted, most popular applause lines of the night: “We're too smart to know there aren't easy answers. But we're not dumb enough to accept that there aren't better answers.”
Picture of Ann and Mitt hanging in the Forum

In what was undoubtedly an attempt to connect with those women watching who believed Ann didn’t know the meaning of hardship, she continued her speech by sharing stories of the early years of life married to Mitt. “We got married and moved into a basement apartment…Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses… All at once I'm 22 years old, with a baby and a husband who's going to business school and law school at the same time, and I can tell you, probably like every other girl who finds herself in a new life far from family and friends, with a new baby and a new husband, that it dawned on me that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.” Of course, many are quick to point out that the Romneys didn’t linger in the basement apartment, but went on to own multiple homes and live a privileged lifestyle. As if she knew what skeptics were thinking, Ann addressed that idea head-on: “I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a ‘storybook marriage.’ Well…those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or Breast Cancer.” Finishing up what was essentially a love letter to her husband, Ann implored the crowd to trust Mitt and give him a chance to help our nation.

The speeches given by women so far have been excellent, and I look forward to hearing Condoleezza Rice speak during the next evening session of the RNC. Despite being told that conservatives are anti-women and that no thinking woman would be conservative, several women stepped forward at the convention Tuesday night to disprove this notion. Women are taking active roles in the Republican Party like never before, and with women like Mia Love running for office, it appears there will be much more to come.