While Chris Christie had the headlining slot, the real star of the night was Ann Romney, Mitt’s wife of 42 years, who set out to deliver a speech “from my heart” and humanize her husband in the face of the Obama campaign’s relentless attacks on his character.
“You may not agree with Mitt’s positions on issues or his politics,” 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!”
Mrs. Romney urged Americans to “get to know” the tall, nervous boy she fell in love with as a teenager—who would go on to enjoy great success in life through hard work and who has always gone out of his way to help those in need.
“Mitt will be the first to tell you that he is the most fortunate man in the world,” she said. “But as his partner on this amazing journey, I can tell you Mitt Romney was not handed success. He built it.”
Mrs. Romney described a man who was incredibly giving, yet never seeking credit for his generosity.
“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 said. “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.”
The Multiple Sclerosis and breast cancer survivor sought to dispel myths about her and Mitt’s “storybook marriage.”
“In the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once,” she said. “And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or breast cancer.”
“A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.”
And her husband was the “the man America needs” in these pressing times.
“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,” she said. “This is the man who will work harder than anyone so that we can work a little less hard.”
Popular reaction to Mrs. Romney’s address was aptly summed up by CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer. “Wow!” he said. “That was a speech!”
Reaction on the convention floor was similarly enthusiastic.
“I’d be proud to have her as a first lady,” said Barbara Amper, a convention goer from Cleveland, Ohio, who spoke to the Free Beacon as woman across the crowded floor lofted signs reading “Women 4 Ann” and “We love you Ann.”
“She loves her family and her country,” Amper said. “I see a lot of strength and determination.”
Amper praised Romney for speaking honestly about her family’s travails.
“She was very honest about her feelings, her family, her country,” she said. “They worked hard for what they have—and they’re willing it share it also.”
Others were wooed by Romney’s ability to engage the crowd.
“It was amazing how natural she was,” noted Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a celebrity spiritual leader and Republican candidate for Congress in New Jersey. “The more natural you are, the more compelling you are.”
Rep. Billy Long (R., Miss.) noted that Romney has an uncanny ability to “connect with the American public.”
With reporting from Adam Kredo in Tampa, Fla.