After years on the campaign trail, Ann Romney will not need much of an introduction when she addresses a nationally televised audience tonight, but there is still much to learn about the person who is Mitt Romney's biggest supporter.
Friends say the first time she campaigned with her husband in the early 1990s, she was somewhat distant and awkward in front of people she did not know. They attributed that to her sheltered upbringing in the upper-income Michigan suburbs. Now the former first lady of Massachusetts is anything but distant and the campaign is confident her genuine warmth will come through at this week's Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
David French and his wife Nancy have known the Romneys for years and help support the campaign by running the pro-Romney website, Evangelicals for Mitt. French says Mrs. Romney's personality will be a winner in Tampa and over the next two months when the rest of America gets engaged in the presidential election.
"To know Ann is to love her," French wrote in a text message from the convention floor in Tampa. "Rarely do you meet anyone in politics who is so immediately warm and open."
The Romneys arrived in Tampa Tuesday morning after spending several days at a private boarding school in New Hampshire where they practiced their speeches in an auditorium with teleprompters and most of the trappings of a major convention stage. Ann says she is not as comfortable with the teleprompters but writes her own speeches and they will be from the heart.
"You will see that my speech is heartfelt," Mrs. Romney told reporters on the campaign plane. "I've never gone off a written text. So this is a unique experience for me."
But although she is known as her husband's number one fan, tonight the former governor has found a way into the stands and will watch his wife give her speech.
One of the topics she is likely to touch on may be the miscarriage they experienced several years ago when she was in her 40s. The couple had gotten pregnant unexpectedly and the news was even more of a surprise given that he had undergone a procedure some years earlier that she thought would prohibit her from having more children. What made it all the more difficult is that she youngest son Craig was looking forward to a baby brother or sister.
"I was home by the time [Craig] got home from school that afternoon. And he walked in the door, and he was about 10, 11 years old. And he fell on the floor and just burst into tears. And the poor little kid had been at school all day long holding this sorrow inside of him. And having no one to speak to, no one to comfort him, no one to explain what was going on," Ann Romney said to CBS.
But serious issues aside, one of the bigger issues is what she would wear on stage when she gives her speech. Stuart Stevens is one of the Romney's closest campaign advisers and is known more for his political knowledge than his wardrobe.
"The funniest thing of all is that Stuart Stevens, who wears his shirts inside-out, is advising me on what dress I should wear tonight," she said. "So I know I've come really full circle now."
Romney's speech will be broadcast during Tuesday night's prime time convention coverage.