03/21/2012 09:51 am ET Updated Mar 21, 2012

Ann Romney, Secret Weapon, Hip Checks Husband's Critics On Women's Issues

SCHAUMBERG, Ill. -- It was one of the more interesting moments of Mitt Romney's victory rally here Tuesday night.

Romney's wife, Ann, walked up on stage with the former Massachusetts governor to introduce him, as she usually does. She mentioned that Wednesday would be their 43rd wedding anniversary, to raucous cheers.

She thanked the elected officials and campaign staff who had helped Romney gain his victory in the state.

And then she got emotional.

"Now I get to just sort of say what's in my heart," she said, with a soft laugh and a sigh that seemed to indicate she was on the verge of choking up.

Her words, and the emotion in her voice, expressed a hope that maybe, just possibly, this long and bruising Republican primary might be nearing an end after the double-digit win over former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

"You know, Mitt and I have been in a lot of states. We've gone through every part of this country," she said. "And I am so moved, so moved, by the people of this country that are counting on someone to go to Washington and to take things in their hands and fix it."

The crowd ate it up, and began chanting, "Mitt, Mitt, Mitt!" There appeared to be tears in Ann's eyes. It was evident why many political observers, including some on President Obama's reelection campaign, think the 62-year-old mother of five, grandmother of 16, and multiple sclerosis overcomer is her husband's biggest political weapon.

"I sense everything that you're experiencing right here tonight: this sense that we want to take this country back, that we are feeling as though that strong strangling arm of government is invading every corner of our life," she continued.

Abruptly, however, she then made something of a left turn.

"And let me tell you something else that's happening: Women are coming to me and saying, 'Will you please talk about deficit spending and budgets?'" she said.

The crowd paused for the slightest of moments, signaling some confusion, before Ann brought them back with an emphatic, "I'm loving that, loving that."

"Women are angry, they're angry about the legacy we're going to leave our children and their grandchildren, and I'm going to tell them something: I've got somebody here that can fix it."

Putting the slightly jarring segue aside, Ann Romney's words about the deficit were a clear attempt to fortify Mitt Romney with women voters against Democratic critics who are mounting an attack on his anti-abortion rights views. Most notably, these critics are seizing on his position that the government should stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, and that the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision making abortion legal should be overturned.

The Democratic National Committee, in fact, sent out a web video not long after Romney finished speaking that criticized Romney for taking "extreme positions on women's health."

But Ann Romney's words Tuesday night were an indication that the campaign will use her to argue that the fiscal matters of the national debt and its impact on their children and grandchildren's futures are also "women's issues."