TAMPA, Fla. — In a bright red outfit, Ann Romney greeted the Republican National Convention delegates and attendees Tuesday night.
To a smattering shouts of “We love you Ann,” the aspiring first lady spoke of the love she has for her husband, family, and country.
“Tonight I want to talk to you about love,” Romney said.
“I want to talk to you about the deep and abiding love I have for a man I met at a dance many years ago. And the profound love I have, and I know we share, for this country,” she continued. “I want to talk to you about that love so deep only a mother can fathom it — the love we have for our children and our children’s children.”
Romney quickly got to her central point. Women make the country run and it is women who feel the brunt of the pain when times are hard. As a woman, Romney relayed her understanding.
“Sometimes I think that late at night, if we were all silent for just a few moments and listened carefully, we could hear a great collective sigh from the moms and dads across America who made it through another day, and know that they’ll make it through another one tomorrow,” she said. “But in that end of the day moment, they just aren’t sure how.”
“And if you listen carefully, you’ll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It’s how it is, isn’t it? It’s the moms who always have to work a little harder, to make everything right,” she said.
To Romney — who suffered criticism earlier this year by an Obama surrogate for “never work[ing] a day in her life,” as a mother — it is moms, sisters, daughters, grandmothers who keep America together.
“It’s the moms of this nation — single, married, widowed — who really hold this country together. We’re the mothers, we’re the wives, we’re the grandmothers, we’re the big sisters, we’re the little sisters, we’re the daughters,” she said. “You know it’s true, don’t you?”
“You’re the ones who always have to do a little more,” she said.
Noting that it is women who are the caregivers, homework helpers, problem solvers, and nostalgia sufferers.
“You are the best of America. You are the hope of America. There would not be an America without you,” she said. “Tonight, we salute you and sing your praises. I’m not sure if men really understand this, but I don’t think there’s a woman in America who really expects her life to be easy. In our own ways, we all know better!”
From her focus on women on a macro level, Romney transitioned to her own story with Mitt Romney.
“I could tell you why I fell in love with him — he was tall, laughed a lot, was nervous — girls like that, it shows the guy’s a little intimidated — and he was nice to my parents but he was really glad when my parents weren’t around,” she said noting he made her laugh.
To Romney, who detailed briefly her upbringing as the granddaughter of a Welsh coal miner and daughter of an immigrant who started his own business — “one he built himself, by the way” — Romney touched of her husband’s father’s success from carpenter to Michigan governor and her courtship with Mitt Romney.
“When Mitt and I met and fell in love, we were determined not to let anything stand in the way of our life together. I was an Episcopalian. He was a Mormon,” she said. “We were very young. Both still in college. There were many reasons to delay marriage, and you know? We just didn’t care. We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining room table was a fold down ironing board in the kitchen. Those were very special days.”
Forty two years later, five sons, and 18 grandchildren later, she explained, she is “still in love with that boy I met at a high school dance.”
“I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a ‘storybook marriage,'” she continued. “Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or Breast Cancer.”
Romney asserted theirs is no storybook marriage but a “real marriage.” She sang her husbands praises as a loving, patient and selfless friend, to a rapt audience, even overheard in the press box, some commented “she’s good.”
“You may not agree with Mitt’s positions on issues or his politics. Massachusetts is only 13 percent Republican, so it’s not like that’s a shock,” she said. “But let me say this to every American who is thinking about who should be our next President: No one will work harder. No one will care more. No one will move heaven and earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live!”
Romney continued that her husband is a walking success story, coming triumphant at new challenges he took on — noting he surprise that she has been surprised at those who attack him for his successes.
“And let’s be honest. If the last four years had been more successful, do we really think there would be this attack on Mitt Romney’s success?” she said. “Of course not.”
Noting that while Romney has been fortunate, it was never given to him — he worked hard, studied hard, and struggled to make his ideas a success — “he built it.”
She continued that his success has given him the ability to help others, a feat he keeps to himself.
“Mitt doesn’t like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point,” she stressed. “And we’re no different than the millions of Americans who quietly help their neighbors, their churches and their communities. They don’t do it so that others will think more of them.”
She laid out the ways her husband’s success has helped others.
“That small company which grew has helped so many others lead better lives,” she said. “The jobs that grew from the risks they took have become college educations, first homes. That success has helped fund scholarships, pensions, and retirement funds. This is the genius of America: dreams fulfilled help others launch new dreams.”
Romney noted that her husband has been paying it forward “at every turn in his life,” and will do it for the whole country.
“This is the man America needs,” she said. “This is the man who will wake up every day with the determination to solve the problems that others say can’t be solved, to fix what others say is beyond repair. This is the man who will work harder than anyone so that we can work a little less hard.”
Romney concluded as a “wife, a mother, a grandmother, an American,” that Mitt Romney will be the one to “lift up” the country.
“It has been 47 years since that tall, kind of charming young man brought me home from our first dance. Not every day since has been easy,” she said. “But he still makes me laugh. And never once did I have a single reason to doubt that I was the luckiest woman in the world.”
The presidential candidate’s wife concluded that the country can trust her husband.
“He will take us to a better place, just as he took me home safely from that dance,” she said.