* Wife says Republican candidate misunderstood
* Describes fun-loving joker in TV interview
* Polls show Romney with "likeability gap"
WASHINGTON, May 1 (Reuters) - Mitt Romney, stiff?
"He's not. He's funny," Ann Romney, the Republican presidential candidate's wife, told "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday, defending her husband against public perceptions that he is inaccessible and has a "likeability gap" with voters.
"I still look at him as this is the boy that I met, in high school, when he was pulling all the jokes, and really just being crazy. Pretty crazy. So there's a wild and crazy man inside of him ... just waiting to come out."
Romney is a multimillionaire businessman whose gaffes on the campaign trail have created an image of the candidate as rich, stiff and out of touch with the average American.
It is a perception that has dogged the former Massachusetts governor throughout the Republican presidential primary and is not likely to evaporate as he faces Democratic President Barack Obama in the November election.
A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 56 percent of respondents said they had a favorable picture of Obama, while only 35 percent said the same of Romney.
Ann Romney says it is a myth of her husband that she looks forward to debunking.
"I think in politics that this is what always happens is that there's a narrative and sometimes you like to put someone in a box and keep them in that box," she said as the couple appeared together in the CBS interview.
Asked how this personability factor would affect voters in November, Mitt Romney steered the discourse to more comfortable territory.
"The people of this country in my view will vote on the issue they care about most and I believe the president will do everything in his power to try and deflect from that central issue: which is, 'Has he made the economy work for the American people?'" he said. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jackie Frank)