By Juana Summers
TAMPA, Fla. — The Romney campaign rolled out its most powerful female surrogate on Tuesday night: Ann Romney, who delivered a single-minded speech aimed directly at women.
Addressing the opening night of the Republican National Convention here, Romney spoke directly to the women of America, telling them "you are the best of America, you are the hope of America, there would not be an America without you."
The mothers of America, Romney told the packed convention hall during the prime-time speech, "always have to work a little harder to make everything right … [and] who really hold this country together."
"I'm not sure if men really understand this, but I don't think there's a woman in America who really expects her life to be easy. In our own ways, we all know better," Romney told supporters. "And that's fine, we don't want easy. But these last few years have been harder than they need to be."
"It's all the little things that pile up to become big things. And the big things — the good jobs, the chance at college, that home you want to buy — just get harder. Everything has become harder," she continued. "We're too smart to know there aren't easy answers. But we're not dumb enough to accept that there aren't better answers."
As Romney finished her speech to a standing ovation, Mitt Romney — who took in the speech from the green room off-stage after making an early visit to Tampa before returning Thursday night — briefly joined his wife on stage as the song "My Girl" played.
In her remarks, Ann Romney parlayed her experience as the mother of five adult sons and grandmother of 18 children to argue that women — and all Americans — can trust Mitt Romney because she did, and because he's the same man who swept her off her feet in high school and who she said has proven to be a steady force and a hard worker for their family.
She even picked up on the campaign's "we built it" messaging — which has been hammered repeatedly during the convention's first night and on the campaign trail.
"Mitt will be the first to tell you that he is the most fortunate man in the world. He had two loving parents who gave him strong values and taught him the value of work. He had the chance to get the education his father never had," Romney said. "But as his partner on this amazing journey, I can tell you Mitt Romney was not handed success. He built it."
Juana Summers is a reporter for POLITICO.com. POLITICO and ABC News 4 have partnered for the 2012 presidential campaign cycle.