COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa - Tucked away in a suburb of western Iowa this evening, Ann Romney offered a rare glimpse into the private life she shares with the man who hopes to become the next president, admitting that it's a side many may not hear but is "always a lot more fun."
Her husband, Mitt Romney, said Ann, stood by her through her life's challenges, and has proven that he has the "the character and the integrity to make us proud and to trust him and to know that he is a really, really good person."
As her husband's campaign launches more aggressive attacks on GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich, Ann Romney focused her remarks on illustrating Romney's family-man persona.
"He has strong family values and that's what happens to him, that's where his world is," she said, adding that her family's motto is, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home."
The "house party," as it was described by the campaign, was held in the home of Deana Romriell, who said that she had never met either of the Romneys before tonight. While she was a supporter and was happy to help, she wasn't entirely sure how she was chosen to host the party.
As a crowd of about 25 munched on mini-cupcakes and lemon-infused water, Ann Romney stood by a mantle adorned with stockings and next to a bright Christmas tree, telling stories about raising five rambunctious boys as a stay-at-home mom and her more serious struggles that came with her diagnoses of multiple sclerosis and later, breast cancer.
"I will tell you that my boys everyone sees are such handsome men and wonderful now. They were not," she joked of raising her sons. "Some of my greatest joy now is watching my grandchildren misbehave, it gives me great pleasure."
"They were roughhousing all the time that it got to the point where I'd go to the emergency room and they'd say, 'Hello Mrs. Romney, how are you doing?'" she said. "I'd probably get investigated today for the number of times I went to the emergency room with those boys."
Despite what some may believe, there have been hardships for the Romney family, she added.
"Everyone seems to think, 'Oh, your life has been perfect and isn't it great,' but no, it's really been hard," Ann Romney said. "There have been some things in our life that have been very difficult."
She spoke about losing both her parents within six months of one another and her breast cancer diagnoses as two of the toughest moments, adding that nothing was as difficult as when she learned she had MS just months before the family was set to move to Salt Lake City, Utah, where Mitt Romney was to run the Olympic Games.
"The best way to describe it was stepping off into an empty elevator shaft, because everything we knew about our life and every structure we had in our life was taken away from us," she said.
Speaking at length about "MS fatigue," which she likened to feeling like your gas tank was always on empty and feeling too tired to speak or even open an envelope, Ann Romney credited her husband with helping her through her darkest years, a "dark hole" she said she struggled to pull herself out of.
"I will tell you, he cried just as much as I did when we got the diagnoses," she said.
But her struggles, Ann Romney said, were all "tied up in a nice bow at the end," when she was able to run the Olympic torch with her family by her side, a moment she said was "emotional" for everyone.
She didn't let the crowd off without some encouragement to caucus in just a few weeks, admitting that she is feeling time creep away.
"We're getting close, we're getting anxious and I really believe, I really believe this, that my husband is the right person for this time," she told the crowd.
"I encourage you to do whatever you have to do to go to the caucuses and even speak for Mitt if you're so inclined, and I think we've all decided that you can just have one minute, if any of you can ever speak for one minute, that's all we need is to represent us at the caucus."