Ann Romney, the wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, spoke Tuesday night about her husband, and their shared vision for the future of America during a personal, candid speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
The speech was the best chance yet for voters to get to know Ann Romney, who is often described a private person who avoids the limelight. And she came out of her shell for the crowd of thousands who gathered at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Tuesday to nominate Mitt Romney as the party's official presidential candidate hear her and other leading Republicans speak.
A large portion remarks were aimed directly at women, and especially working mothers who are struggling to get a foothold in the down economy, and in a world that forces them "to work a little bit harder" than men do.
Ann Romney, 63, was radiant, down-to-earth and cheerful in a bright red pantsuit, and she garnered a huge ovation from the crowd as she emerged to begin her remarks. It was something of a first introduction for a woman the American public has seen very little of up to this point.
And she made the best of it, by telling the stories of her family's history, her rearing in Michigan, and the American values that were instilled in her at a young age. And she used emotion to pull at the heartstrings of attendees, some of whom were shown on camera with tears streaming down her face as she spoke about these topics.
"I want to talk to you tonight not about politics and not about party ... Tonight i want to talk to you from my heart about our hearts," she said, after which a crowd member screamed, "We love you, Ann." After the cheers died down she returned to her message.
"I wanna talk not about what divides us, but what holds us together as an American family ... Tonight I want to talk to you about love. I want to talk to you about the deep and abiding love I have for a man I met at a dance," she said.
She went on to describe her love for America and Americans, from the struggling "single dad" to "the working moms who love their jobs but would love to work just a little bit less to spend more time with her kids, but just can't because that's out of the question during this economy."
Her words about women took up much of her time Tuesday night:
"I have seen and heard stories about how hard it is to get ahead now. You know what, I've heard your voices ... I love you women, and I hear your voices," she thundered at one point, riling the crowd into a frenzied cheer. "You are the ones who have to work a little bit more ... We're too smart to expect there to be easy answers, but we're not dumb enough to think there aren't better answers. That's where this boy who i met at a high school dance comes in."
She addressed the fact that she and Mitt have been criticized for their fabulous wealth, which Mitt Romney earned at Bain Capital:
"I can tell you Mitt Romney was not handed success, he built it," echoing the campaign's motto, which is "We Built This."
She did make one small slip during her remarks, mistakenly uttering the Freudian slip that her husband has been "sexful -- successful," but it didn't seem to cause much of a rise among attendees or commentators.
Ann Romney, who was First Lady of Massachusetts while Mitt Romney was Governor from 2003 to 2007, has been in the news earlier in the 2012 presidential campaign, but most of her headlines were negative ones.
A stay-at-home mother and matriarch of a very wealthy household, Ann Romney caught flack in April when she seemed out of touch with the concerns of middle- and low-class mothers who finder it quite a bit harder than she does to make ends meet.
"I love the fact that there are women out there who don't have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids," she said. "Thank goodness that we value those people too. And sometimes life isn't easy for any of us."
She also took criticism in July, when she used the words "you people" when trying to defend her and her husband's refusal to release more than a couple years of tax records.
"We've given all you people need to know," she said, using language that has been associated with having racist underpinnings in the past.
But all that was forgotten Tuesday, when Ann Romney took the dais in Tampa and spoke about her husband, their family, the problems facing America and why Mitt Romney and Republicans would do a better job of addressing them than Obama and the Democrats have for the past four years and plan to if Obama is re-elected to the White House.
Other key speakers scheduled to offer remarks over the next few days, besides Romney and Ryan, include Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Earlier in the day, Romney was officially nominated as president, after he dominated the final delegate count, taking 2,061 of the 2,286 available delegates, significantly more than the 1,144 votes needed to secure the nomination.
"On this vote, the honorable Mitt Romney has received 2,061 votes, more than the majority of those votes entitled to be cast at this convention," House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio told the crowd after the lengthy roll call finished.
KVR News reported that Texas Congressman Ron Paul picked up 190 votes. Santorum picked up 9 votes, and former Utah Gov. John Huntsman, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota each got one vote, according to KVR News. Twenty delegates abstained from casting a vote.