Ann Romney received a rapturous welcome from Republican delegates as she declared her love for her husband Mitt and vowed: ‘This man will not fail. This man will not let us down. This man will lift up America!’
Wearing a simple, flame-red dress and looking a little nervous initially during what Romney advisers had described as a high-stakes speech, the would-be First Lady described her marriage before her husband became a multi-millionaire venture capitalist.
Her confidence grew visibly as she was buoyed by the crowd, ultimately delivering a speech with the poise and aplomb that many a skilled politician would envy. Mrs Romney has long been viewed by her husband’s campaign as his biggest asset and she more than lived up to their hopes for the night.
As her speech concluded, her husband walked onto the stage to embrace and kiss her while the crowd cheered and the strains of ‘My Guy’, the 1964 Motown hit by Mary Wells, filled the hall.
‘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.’
Her heartfelt address was designed to highlight the softer, personal side of her husband, who has often been described as stiff and uncomfortable.
She 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 described her ‘real marriage’ to the former Massachusetts governor hours after he was officially confirmed as the Republican candidate to take on Barack Obama in November’s election.
With polls showing that Obama’s negative ads portraying Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat, Mrs Romney sought to paint him as an ordinary man and theirs as an ordinary life.
‘It has been 47 years since that tall, kind of charming young man brought me home from our first dance,’ she said. ‘Not every day since has been easy.
‘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. I said tonight I wanted to talk to you about love. Look into your hearts.
‘I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a “storybook marriage”. 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.
‘He has tried to live his life with a set of values centered on family, faith, and love of one’s fellow man. From the time we were first married, I’ve seen him spend countless hours helping others.
‘I’ve seen him drop everything to help a friend in trouble, and been there when late-night calls of panic came from a member of our church whose child had been taken to the hospital.’
Her speech was peppered with references to the couple’s Mormon faith, which she adopted after meeting him and which he has largely shied away from discussing.
‘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 neighbours, their churches and their communities. They don’t do it so that others will think more of them.’