In response to critics who say embattled GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is staring at defeat, his wife, Ann, defended him, saying running for president is a hard job and the Republican Party is lucky to have a smart man vying for the job of America’s chief executive.

In an interview with Radio Iowa Thursday, Ann Romney called out her husband’s critics, telling them to put their hat in the ring if they think running for president is an easy job.

“Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring,” Ann said. “You know, it’s an important thing that we are doing right now, and it is an important election.

“It is time for all Americans to realize how significant this election is and how lucky we are to have someone with Mitt’s qualifications and experience and know-how to be able to have the opportunity to run this country,” she added.

Mitt Romney’s campaign has been experiencing  setbacks in recent days, which has led to criticisms from notable conservatives who think he is blowing his shot at the presidency and needs to turn it around fast.

The nominee has especially been under the microscope this week after a secret video of him basically calling 47 percent of Americans freeloaders hit the Web.

Mitt was secretly videotaped at an event in Boca Raton, Fla., on May 17, when he told the wealthy crowd that he doesn’t worry about 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay taxes and instead feel they are “victims” who are entitled to government help.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Mitt said. “There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.

“That’s an entitlement,” Mitt continued. “And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. … My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Romney has not backed away from his words and said he was speaking “off the cuff.”

At the same May fundraiser, Mitt was also taped saying that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is hopeless.

He faced heavy criticism from conservative columnist Peggy Noonan, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, “This is not how big leaders talk, it’s how shallow campaign operatives talk: They slice and dice the electorate like that, they see everything as determined by this interest or that.”

She wrote that Mitt’s tone was “fatalistic” and that “I think there is a broad and growing feeling now, among Republicans, that this thing is slipping out of Romney’s hands.”

Noonan isn’t the only conservative to lash out against his comments.

The Weekly Standard's William Kristol also wrote on Tuesday that it is important for the Republican nominee to win in November, “unless he chooses to step down and we get the [Paul] Ryan-[Marco] Rubio ticket we deserve!”

He summed up Mitt’s comments as “stupid and arrogant.”