Salena Zito
Ann Romney said on Wednesday that she felt welcomed and energized when she stepped onto the stage here at the Republican National Convention to introduce her husband, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, to millions of Americans watching on television.

The most important reviews of the speech came moments later from her five sons and daughters-in-law and their 18 children, who greeted her with tears and hugs. As she detailed the night before, family came first.

“You know that kind of love and support that you get from your family? Well, it was that kind of reaction,” she said during an interview with the Tribune-Review at the Tampa Marriot Waterside. “And I was like, ‘Oh, it was OK then?’ ”

“The grandchildren tackled me at the end, just tackled me.”

The interview occurred a few hours before Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin addressed the nation for the first time as the GOP vice presidential nominee. After 18 months of campaigning, Ann Romney said she feels confident and encouraged about her husband’s chances of taking the White House.

Earlier in the day, Ann Romney and Janna Ryan, the wife of his running mate, teamed up to head a Women for Romney fundraiser. She later attended a Latino Coalition lunch, where son Craig Romney addressed guests in Spanish and described his father as “a man you can trust.”

Opinion polls show the Republican ticket is trailing with both women and Hispanic voters.

“Mitt’s message is resonating. I think that the pick of Paul Ryan for vice president reinforces the fact that we are serious about the future of this nation and we are serious about the problems that we are facing,” she said.

The optimism contrasts with the difficult feelings after the unsuccessful campaign of 2008 when Romney lost the GOP nod to Sen. John McCain of Arizona. McCain lost the general election to Barack Obama.

“After the last campaign I certainly thought this wasn’t ever worth doing again,” she said. “And yet when it came time to reconsider doing it again, I really recognized that it was the nation that was at stake.

“There are a lot of good people out there that are sacrificing for this nation. We could go through a tough campaign,” she said. “For goodness sakes, there are soldiers in Iraq and all across the world that are protecting our liberties. I could put my personal life aside and just do what’s needed to be done for this country.”

Ann Romney said she has not identified one specific issue she might support as first lady. She identified at-risk youths, breast cancer and multiple sclerosis research as her causes.

“I cannot imagine not continuing to do those things,” she said. “They have been my heart and my passion for so long.”

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.

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