When the Avion hangar cleared out, Romney stepped to the side of the stage to tape an interview with MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. The Q&A touched on the usual topics--Super Tuesday, McCain's economic inadequacy, whether a Giuliani withdrawal will help or hurt. At the end, Romney's wife, Ann, stepped into the circle and, at Brzezinski.'s prodding, gave Mitt a kiss on the cheek. "I'd like to do three minutes with Ann," said Brzezinski. "That okay?" Ann asked. "That's just fine," Mitt said. "Just remember what Sen. Sam Urban once said: 'Don't lie, but whatever you do don't blurt out the truth.' Everyone chuckled. Then Ann noticed a smudge on her husband's face. "You have a little lipstick kiss on here," she said, wiping it off.
"Oh, thank you very much," said Romney.
"That's adorable," said Brzezinski.. "Governor, just let me see the lipstick kiss. Goodness gracious! As long as it's Ann's."
Ann arched an eyebrow and smirked. "Sometimes it's not."
"Seriously," she continued. "The best was yesterday. This woman comes up and reaches over and..." She mimicked grabbing his butt.
"Ohhhhh!" repeated Brzezinski..
Mitt chimed in. "I thought it was Ann."
"It wasn't me."
"Are you serious?"
"Serious. I was like, 'That's fresh.'"
"Good morning, America!" said Romney. Yes, ladies and gentleman--it's alive. That sort of wholesome humor and palpable affection--between Romney and Ann, or Romney and his five sons--is a key part of his "family values" appeal.
A few seconds later, however, the other Romney returned. As he was making his way out of the staging area, a "sixtysomething" snowbird from Minnesota named Russ Sylvester sidled over and extended his hand. Romney shook it. But when Sylvester, who had waited through multiple post-rally interviews for face-time with the candidate, posed a quick question-- "Governor, do you have a moment?"--Romney flashed him a suspicious look. "Well, I just have to finish up..." he said, trailing off and turning around, aimlessly, looking for a nonexistent microphone to unhook from his belt. I got the sense that Romney was hoping Sylvester would disappear--which is, in a way, understandable, considering that he could be forced to, like, answer a disagreeable question (there was, after all, a gentleman parked outside the hangar with a giant sign that read "Make the Rich Angry. Vote John McCain.")
But when Romney turned around, Sylvester was still there. The man started again to speak, but Romney lifted a finger to his lips and motioned to Ann, who was now in the middle of her interview with Mika. "Have to be quiet," he whispered, brushing past Sylvester to sign a few autographs. "Is he coming back?" Sylvester asked me. I shrugged. A typical retiree, khaki golf jacket and all, he shuffled slowly behind Romney for a few steps, and even tapped him on the shoulder. No response. Fifteen seconds later, Mitt was out the door.
"What did you want to ask? I said to Sylvester.
"Well, I was going to tell him I've been a national delegate three times. Once for Ronald Reagan and twice for George Bush, Sr. And I wanted to get a good picture with him 'cause I'd like to run for national delegate supporting him."
"He didn't know that," added Sylvester's wife, Lemay.
"And I didn't get a chance to tell him."
"Kind of moved quickly, huh?" I asked.
"He did," said Sylvester, nodding. "It's unfortunate."