TAMPA, Aug. 28, 2012 -- Ann Romney, the wife of the Republican presidential nominee, told Americans tonight that they could trust her husband and in a blunt appeal to women said, "This man will not let us down."
"Sometimes I think that late at night, if we were all silent for just a few moments and listened carefully, we could hear a great collective sigh from the moms and dads across America," Mrs. Romney said. "And if you listen carefully, you'll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men."
"It's the moms of this nation -- single, married, widowed -- who really hold this country together," she said, moments before looking out to the convention floor and crying, "I love you women!"
Speaking about her husband, she promised, "He will take us to a better place, just as he took me home safely from that dance" where they first met more than four decades ago.
"This man will not fail," Ann Romney said. "This man will not let us down."
Mrs. Romney threw some sharp elbows, too, making a case against the criticism her husband has faced over his time in the private sector with Bain Capital, a private equity firm.
"It's true that Mitt has been successful at each new challenge he has taken on. It amazes me to see his history of success actually being attacked. Are those really the values that made our country great?
"And let's be honest," she continued, "If the last four years had been more successful, do we really think there would be this attack on Mitt Romney's success? Of course not."
As the Romney's five sons watched their mother, several clearly had tears in their eyes.
Mrs. Romney spoke at length about her life with the man she married at the age of 19, a man she said people did not truly understand.
"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," she said referring to ailments she has survived. "A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage."
After finishing her address, Mrs. Romney was greeted on the stage by the candidate. They waived to the crowd, before joining their sons to watch New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's keynote speech.
Mrs. Romney's speech was meant to offer a unique insight into her husband's life and personality, a take voters may not be familiar with -- especially those who have yet to make a decision between him and President Obama. The campaign had hoped Mrs. Romney would be, as they like to say, their "secret weapon," their best bet at painting a more flesh-toned and flattering portrait of the candidate before Election day.
Hours before taking the stage, Mrs. Romney told ABC News' Diane Sawyer that she was nervous.
"You know, I was a little shaky when I first came out. I'm like, oh, this is a pretty big auditorium, this will obviously be the biggest speech of my life. But as soon as I settled in I'm like I felt good, felt really good," Mrs. Romney said.
Asked if her husband had any advice for her, Mrs. Romney said that he advised her to "just look as though someone's face is there, as though you are talking to someone."
Ann Romney Says America Needs Her Husband
"I want to talk not about what divides us, but what holds us together as an American family," she told the national audience. "I want to talk to you tonight about that one great thing that unites us, that one thing that brings us our greatest joy when times are good, and the deepest solace in our dark hours."
Aboard a charter flight from Massachusetts to Tampa, Mrs. Romney fretted that reading off a teleprompter -- something she has rarely done -- isn't her strong suit.
Her rock star turn now passed, Mrs. Romney will join Janna Ryan, the vice presidential nominee's wife, at a campaign rally Wednesday morning at the Hyatt Regency in Tampa, Florida.
Then it's off to an event at St. Petersburg All Children's Hospital in nearby St. Petersburg and the Latino Coalition Luncheon at the Sheraton East back in Tampa.