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ABC Hammers at Romney's 'Likability Problem'

Just before Ann Romney's speech at the GOP convention, ABC repeatedly branded Mitt Romney with unfavorable ratings from its latest poll, and emphasized his "likability problem." ABC brought up Romney's unfavorable image four times in five minutes.

"Mitt Romney has a real likability problem," announced reporter Cokie Roberts. George Stephanopoulos introduced the ABC News poll saying "It shows Mitt Romney's unfavorable rating is 51 percent. That is the highest of any nominee in modern times."

"Every word counts in this speech, because as George alluded to, that new poll shows among registered voters, women in particular, women, only 34 percent of them have a favorable view of Mrs. Romney. To give you a little idea – Mr. Romney, I should say," reporter David Muir set the table for Ann Romney's speech, shortly after Stephanopoulos cited the poll.

[Video below.]

 

 

"Yes, the environment's set in this country now for Barack Obama to be defeated. Wrong track numbers, the economic numbers, all of those factors are set. But what's holding it back for Mitt Romney is views of him as a person. That's ultimately what's holding it back," reported ABC News political analyst Matt Dowd.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on August 28 on ABC News' coverage of the Republican National Convention beginning at 10:03 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

[10:03]

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And Diane, one of the big things we want to talk about tonight, the challenge facing Mitt Romney. It shows up in this brand new ABC News/Washington Post poll just out. It shows Mitt Romney's unfavorable rating is 51 percent. That is the highest of any nominee in modern times.

DIANE SAWYER: And is tonight the night they begin to turn that around? And is the popular Ann Romney the one to get it started?

(...)

DAVID MUIR: Every word counts in this speech, because as George alluded to, that new poll shows among registered voters, women in particular, women, only 34 percent of them have a favorable view of Mrs. Romney. To give you a little idea – Mr. Romney, I should say.

(...)

SAWYER: Cokie, can you hear me there? Tell me what you think the role of a spouse is in changing opinion at a convention?

ROBERTS: Well, as you've said before, Mitt Romney has a real likability problem. And people trust him on the issues, they think that the President has done a bad job on the economy, according to our polls. But they don't like Mitt Romney. And Ann Romney is likable, and she likes Mitt Romney. So she can tell about why she does and what's so important about him as a man, as a flesh-and-blood human being. But you know, this started with Barbara Bush in 1988, when George H. S. Bush had a likability problem. And she's the first spouse to make one of these speeches at a convention because she was already popular with the people as a plain-spoken Vice President's wife. And I think the part felt that it worked very well for George Bush, and the hope for the Romneys is it'll work very well for Mitt Romney tonight.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They need it. And I will bring that question to Matt Dowd as well. You know, we're seeing this environment, 64 percent of the country think we're going in the wrong direction right now. And – but you've written that for Mitt Romney to catch that wave, he definitely has to turn around those perceptions of him as a person.

MATT DOWD: Yes, the environment's set in this country now for Barack Obama to be defeated. Wrong track numbers, the economic numbers, all of those factors are set. But what's holding it back for Mitt Romney is views of him as a person. That's ultimately what's holding it back. If he can change that dynamic – not a lot, but some – basically what happens, the overall dynamic takes effect, and then it's very hard for Barack Obama to win this race. And that's what this convention has to be about, changing the personal characteristics of Mitt Romney.


-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center