TAMPA---Ann Romney's job was to make a campaign pitch to women—and she did. Her job was to connect with the audience in and outside the Republican National Convention hall—and she did. And her job was to sell Mitt to the masses—and she did.
Romney, 63, often mentions that she and her husband of 42 years Mitt Romney, the freshly coronated Republican presidential nominee, met at a high school dance. But she gave a speech on Tuesday night based wholly on love—love of country, love of success and love of her husband.
"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," Romney said, after taking the stage in a bright red dress to thunderous applause.
Romney spoke of the collective weight felt by Americans she has met on the campaign trail—the weight of not knowing how they'll get through the next day. But it's the women, she said, who feel it a little more.
"It's the moms of this nation—single, married, widowed—who really hold this country together," Romney said. "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. You know it's true, don't you? You're the ones who always have to do a little more."
The pitch to women was naked, but effective. Romney drew on the conversations she has had with voters for months to make an economic pitch to women.
"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," she said. "And that's fine. We don't want easy. But these last few years have been harder than they needed to be."
Romney, the mother of five who has battled breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, wowed the crowd with her ability to deliver applause lines.
"We're too smart to know there aren't easy answers, but we're not dumb enough to accept that there aren't better answers," she said. "And that is where this boy I met at a high school dance comes in. His name is Mitt Romney and you really should get to know him."
After sharing her love story, Romney spoke of how her husband was always the first to help a friend or fellow Mormon Church member in need.
"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."
The fired up partisan audience leapt to their feet in applause.
Romney made no apology for her family's wealth—totaling at least $250 million—saying it was the result of tough work.
"As his partner on this amazing journey, I can tell you Mitt Romney was not handed success," she said. "He built it."
Romney spoke of her husband's successes as governor of Massachusetts, among them improving education and lowering unemployment.
"This man will not fail," she said.
She finished her address speaking as directly to voters' concerns about her husband as she had to women at the beginning.
"I said tonight I wanted to talk to you about love. Look into your hearts," Romney said. "You can trust Mitt. He loves America."
You just have to give him the chance, Romney said.
Mitt Romney joined his wife on stage while the house band played "My Girl."
Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.