ROBINS, Iowa - Mitt Romney's wife Ann hit the stump Tuesday evening in this small town close to Cedar Rapids, exactly three weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, to persuade the crowd to vote for her husband by describing what an honest and trustworthy man he is.
"He's steadfast, honest, he's good. He sticks with you in the hard times," Ann Romney said in this living room at a fundraiser for a state representative. "I appreciate that, and I appreciate that quality of his. He's good to the core and I trust him so completely."
The Romney campaign has been sending Ann Romney out more, hoping she's the secret weapon that can help stop the surging campaign of Newt Gingrich. Compared to the thrice married Gingrich who has admitted to marital infidelity, the Romneys are a stark contrast: married for 42 years and seemingly still madly in love, Ann Romney is out trying to make that case without naming names or explicitly comparing family lives.
Of course, it's clear without having to be explicit. Last week the Romney campaign even released an ad focusing on their family life. And during the last election cycle, the entire Romney clan was on the trail more - also a clear contrast with opponent Rudy Giuliani's complicated home life.
Gingrich may be ahead of Romney in the polls here, but the campaign is hoping that his wife's stories about being madly in love at 16 years old, the couple's first date to see "The Sound of Music," and her husband having to teach her how to change diapers when their first child, Tagg, was born will charm voters. She also discussed how he stood by her when she suffered from a debilitating multiple sclerosis diagnosis that she has now recovered from.
The hope is that this will help sway voters away from a candidate that doesn't have the same kind of sparkling marital background, but is appealing to voters as the anti-Romney.
"You all know that other side of his - the business side, the successful side. I know without any doubt that he'll be a great president, but for me I'm grateful for that side of him that many of you don' t know about, that I think people do need to know about," Romney told the crowd of about fifty. "He's the kind of guy that has been so terrific and such an example for my sons of being a wonderful father."
The two were so in love, Romney told the crowd that she thought her "heart would break" when Mitt, her then-boyfriend, went away to Stanford as a freshman and later to France to go on his mission as a young Mormon. He even got a job as a campus security guard while at Stanford, she told the room, to pay for trips home to see his girlfriend, but he didn't tell his parents.
"Now my parents were in on it, but Mitt's parents were not, and I remember once Mitt came home to visit with me, and of course my parents would know about it, and we went to a party and Mitt's parents were there, and it was like we did the quickest U-turn you have ever seen," Romney said to laughs from the crowd.
"I will tell you my heart truly did break when he left to go on his mission for 2.5 years … when Mitt came back from his mission we were all there, the same group, he came off the plane. I could see his mother standing there and he went right by her, right by her, he didn't even say hello. Man, that wasn't good, right into my arms and so it was just wonderful to pick up that romance right where we left off," she recalled.
Ann Romney said Tuesday evening that it was "great to be here in Iowa." And she praised her husband's debate performance Saturday night, without mention of his $10,000 bet gaffe, but seemed to allude to it.
"I thought Mitt did a great job at the last debate and now that we have that - we are doing another debate. How many debates are we going to do?," Romney asked. "I think it's like watching reality TV now. They are waiting for a car wreck."