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Standing for their men: Did Ann Romney or Michelle Obama win over moms? (+video)

Both Ann Romney and Michelle Obama looked great and spoke well on behalf of their husbands in their convention appeals for the all-important 'Mom vote.' Here's a sampling of views.

By Staff writer / September 5, 2012

Ann Romney, wife of US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, waving after addressing the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. on Aug. 28.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Los Angeles

Michelle Obama and Ann Romney – in their newly-minted convention roles as top-surrogates-in-chief – looked great, had finely-crafted speeches, and had excellent diction.

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But did either of them score a decisive victory in the battle for the “Mom vote,” the all-important undecided independent or swing female voters both wives were clearly aiming to snag for their spouses?

The views on this question from a sampling of moms from New York to San Diego and from gender experts and political scientists are as divergent as are attitudes toward the women’s husbands.

Susan Shapiro Barash, a New York City author, gender expert, and mother of three, says the locker room was abuzz with talk about just this question when she turned up for her crack-of-dawn swim at the 92nd Street YMCA Wednesday morning.

“I was late to work, we were so intensely chatting about it,” she says. She listened to both speeches very closely, she adds. Her scorecard: knockout for Michelle Obama.

“She was so authentic, I related to her, and so did everyone else, from a mother of a nine-year-old to another mom of a 23-year-old,” she says, adding that she had been fairly sure she was going to vote for President Obama. But watching the president’s wife speak about both their life together and all the ways that his personal convictions and experiences had translated into political actions “moved her.”

Beyond that, Ms. Barash notes, “while both women are very appealing on a visceral level, we can’t forget that they are stand-ins for their husband’s politics, who represent very different positions.” She points to everything from abortion to funding for education and health care.

Nonetheless, on a strictly personal level, she says she related most closely to Mrs. Obama. “The way that Michelle Obama spoke last night resonated with me on so many levels, particularly the way she has mothered her two daughters throughout this whole campaign so impressively,” she says, adding, “I couldn’t get to sleep last night, the speech stayed with me it was so thrilling.”

The two speeches played differently on the other side of the country, says Southern California author Antoinette Kuritz, founder of the La Jolla Writers Conference. Also a mother of three and grandmother of four, Ms. Kuritz says how you felt about the two women “depends on whether you were listening to content or delivery; whether you have investigated Obamacare or just believe what you read and hear, whether you subscribe to an entitlement, paternalistic society or not.”

Michelle Obama's delivery was excellent, says Kuritz, who gives her an A-plus. “Ann Romney was hesitant, a bit overwhelmed by being in front of such a large audience with so much depending on her,” she says, which earns her a B-plus.

But, that is not the entire impact, she says, adding that we “expect both women to laud their husband's character and accomplishments. And they did. But knowing what we know about Obama and his accomplishments thus far, understanding his agenda more fully, we are able to judge for ourselves, and because of that,” she says, “Michelle gets a far lower grade for honesty.”

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