Ann Romney says America can trust her husband

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Ann Romney is greeted on stage by her husband Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney after her speech to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applwhite)

TAMPA, Fla. — Making her national debut, Ann Romney swept onto the stage at the Republican National Convention late Tuesday night and delivered a forceful defense of her husband’s character and values — and made an all-out play for the critical women’s vote — in a speech designed to introduce the country to the man she knows better than anyone.

“I love you women! And I hear your voices,” she said, wearing a red belted dress as black-and-white photos of her family flashed on a giant screen above her head.

She touched on her struggles with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. She defended her husband’s work ethic, saying, “I can tell you Mitt Romney was not handed success.”

Her pitch was aimed squarely at women who are raising families. “If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It’s how it is, isn’t it?” she said. “It’s the moms who always have to work a little harder, to make everything right.”

And Mrs. Romney defended her husband’s wild success in business, offering a character testimonial to counter Democratic attack ads that have worked to paint her husband as wealthy and out-of-touch.

The goal of her carefully crafted speech: Help people understand the warm, personal side of her husband, a longtime candidate who has sometimes struggled to connect with voters — and who isn’t nearly as well-liked as his opponent, Democratic President Barack Obama.

The woman whom Romney often introduces as “my sweetheart, Ann Romney!” has played the role of humanizer for months now. Together, she and Mitt Romney have five children and 18 grandchildren who range in age from 16 years to just a few months old. She has appeared on stage often with her husband, who’s obviously more at ease when she’s by his side.

Printed on Thursday, August 30, 2012 as: Ann Romney scouts women's vote