Romney, Florida Beach, Flag Football: Staffers & Reporters – Game On!

Mitt Romney leads the cheer in a football huddle with debate prep coach Sen. Rob Portman and Senior Staff members. Members of Romney’s Traveling Press Corps formed the opposing team.
Delray Beach, Florida – Oct 21, 2012 (screen shot)

Senior Staffers vs Traveling Press Corps

Taking a quick break from presidential debate preparations, Mitt Romney today donned a t-shirt and shorts to cheer on a bit of friendly beach brouhaha. Spirits were high and Secret Service personnel dotted the beach as reporters, who cover Romney on the campaign trail, and senior staffers were getting set to kick up some sand in a game of flag football on Florida’s beautiful Delray Beach.

“Let’s see; look at the captain. Gail’s a captain, is that right? Got a bracelet for you. This is a “Clear eyes, full heart, America can’t lose, all right?” Romney said to Gail Gitcho, his communications adviser.

“Ashley’s a captain. There ya go, look at that,” Romney said to The New York Times Ashley Parker.

“There ya go; shake hands, shake hands,” Romney told Gitcho and Parker.

Gitcho and Parker shook hands, and then Romney asked Parker if she was going to call the flip in the air.

“You’re going to call it really? You want it to hit the ground?” he asked her.

“You can catch if you want,” Parker said.

Romney decided to throw it up and let it drop. Parker called tails, and after searching for the coin in the sand, Gitcho found it and announced that it was tails.

“Tails it is! That’s the last call you guys are getting,” Romney good-heartedly declared.

Before the game started, Romney looked over his team and and jocularly added “Where’s Chris Christie when we need him? He’s our line.”

Romney, who regularly plays football with his family, watched the first play of the game. Then, with less than 48 hours to go until the third and final debate showdown with Obama, headed off to get back to prepping.

Guess who showed up during the course of the game? Mom-to-five-boys Ann Romney. She got in the mix and threw the touchdown that tied the game! Atta girl!

Final score? 14 to 14.

Follow Jayde Wyatt on Twitter @YayforSummer

Paul Ryan… A Tale of Intrigue: How Romney Kept His V.P. Choice Secret

As speculation increased on Mitt Romney’s V.P. choice, the press corps and additional reporters closely monitored potential candidates’ every movement and camped out at their homes. This photo of Paul Ryan’s house shows the surrounding wooded area where, on Friday August 10th, he would quietly slip out the back and through the trees… (Photo Alana Semuels/Los Angeles Times/Aug 11, 2012)

Inquiring minds want to know when Mitt Romney decided his running mate was Paul Ryan and how he kept it under wraps…

Wonder no more; here’s the tale (and what a tale it is!):

MANASSAS, Va. – The story could have been ripped straight from the pages of a Cold War-era spy novel: There were sunglasses and baseball caps, decoys and back routes through the woods.

As presidential candidate Mitt Romney settled on his running mate, Paul Ryan, his campaign over the course of 10 days went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the information and meetings between himself and Ryan from the eyes of an eager press corps.

The search began not long after Romney wrapped up the nomination. On Apr. 16, he announced that Beth Myers, his senior advisor and a longtime aide, would lead his VP search committee. “I had one directive,” Myers said in a briefing with reporters on Saturday evening. “That the candidates must be qualified to take office on day one.”

Working in a secure room at campaign headquarters in Boston, for the next six weeks Myers sought advice from others who had been given the same task in other campaigns: Dick Cheney (his daughter Liz Cheney was also included), and former Secty of State James Baker. By the beginning of May, a small circle of advisors had crafted a short list of ‘possibilities’. Myers won’t say how many were considered, only that “there was never an issue of too few candidates.” After a series of phone calls, Romney had spoken to everyone on the list. Not one refused to be considered for V.P.

Myers and her trusted advisors issued questionnaires to the candidates and tracked research, policy information, public records, etc. All documentation was secretly ensconced in individual safes at Boston campaign headquarters so nothing could be leaked. No photocopies were made. (Note: Just this past Friday, reporters leaving Romney’s campaign headquarters saw a worker wearing a ‘Shred-It’ shirt carry five bags out of the building.)

By mid-June preliminary reports were presented to Governor Romney. Since some issues needed further clarification, he met with several candidates to resolve questions. Myers said Romney talked to a lot of people, consulting with his senior advisors and others. “A lot of people,” Myers said. “He talked with a lot of people.”

On July 2, she gave Romney the completed folders and he began to consider the options before he left on his overseas trip.

By June, Myers was ready to interview the top candidates, and a retreat for top donors in Park City, Utah, provided cover. The short-listers were brought in ostensibly to talk policy with Republican financiers, but also were able to slip away for meetings with Myers.

While Romney was vacationing in Wolfeboro, N.H. during the week of July 4, Myers made the trip north with a few advisors with plans to review the final dossiers. Romney postponed a final decision until after his trip abroad at the end of July, and assembled his top advisors for a final “gut check.” Romney then informed Myers of his choice on Aug. 1.

“This is Mitt’s decision. He gave me direction every step of the way,” said Myers, who said she opted not to share her thoughts with Romney on the advice of an old mentor.

The same day, they placed a call from her office to Ryan to arrange a meeting for Sunday, Aug. 5. Romney had not yet extended an offer.

Operation V.P. now suddenly increased in intrigue and intricacy. The media was closely watching Romney, his advisors, potential candidates’ homes, and tracking any and all comings and goings.

“We gave a lot of thought on how to make this work undetected,” Myers said.

The plot thickens…

Four days later, Ryan traveled to Chicago from his hometown of Janesville, Wis., where he flew from to Hartford, Conn. — both locations chosen to avoid media attention. Having been instructed by the Romney campaign to “dress casually,” he wore jeans, a casual shirt, a baseball hat and sunglasses.

In Hartford, Myers’ 19-year-old son picked Ryan up at the airport in a rented SUV and brought him to her home in Brookline, Mass., about 100 miles away. [The SUV was driven directly into Myers' garage so neighbors would be none the wiser.] A short time later, Romney himself arrived at the house, along with four of his top aides: Ed Gillespie, Matt Rhodes, Bob White, and Spencer Zwick.

While the group entertained itself in Myers’ home, Romney and Ryan met for an hour privately in the dining room. When they came out, Myers said, “It was all set.”

“We talked about the campaign and how it would be run and talked about how we’d work together if we get the White House. What the relationship would be, how we’d interact and be involved in important decisions, but we talked about our families, what this meant for them,” Romney told reporters traveling with him on the plane Saturday night.

After receiving the call to meet with Mitt, Ryan later said he had a hunch he was going to be asked to be the Governor’s running mate. He said accepting the offer was an easy decision because “we’ve got to save the country.” However, as news spread of the shootings at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, located in Ryan’s district, the new V.P. nominee didn’t have much time to think about how his life had just changed. The same day the campaign had decided to roll out the vice presidential pick in New Hampshire was the same day as the funeral service for the victims of the tragic shootings.

As Beth Myers recounted the story, she said this is where the operation got a little complicated:

(more…)

Romney in Allentown, PA: ‘Obama is Playing Golf, Campaigning, and Blaming’

Romney takes questions from reporters outside of now-defunct Allentown Metal Works in Allentown, PA. June 30, 2011


Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were on the same Keystone State turf today…

While at a fundraiser in Philadelphia, PA Obama postulated that he was busy “attacking the country’s problems” while his Republican opponents were targeting him.

Romney was in Allentown, PA to draw attention to the plight of a factory Obama once touted as one that would benefit from his $800 billion Stimulus Plan.

The reality of Obama’s misery index was evident. As Romney’s press conference began, he stood by the entrance to Allentown Metal Works… in weeds in front of a chained and locked gate bearing a ‘No Trespassing’ sign:

WaPo

In 2009, Obama visited the Allentown Metal Works plant here, touting it as a symbol of the nation’s manufacturing might — an employer that would benefit from his $787 billion economic stimulus bill. But by this year, the plant had closed, laying off its workers and ending this city’s century of manufacturing history.

“Look around you: This is what he called the symbol of hope,” Romney said, staging a news conference in front of the factory’s locked fence. “There are weeds, boarded-up windows. . . . This was the spot he picked to symbolize the success of the stimulus. And my eyes tell me it ain’t working.”

The former Massachusetts governor repeatedly called Obama a “failure,” stressing his own 25-year background of working in the private sector and saying of the president: “He’s out of his depth when it comes to getting the economy going. It’s just not something that he understands.”

(emphasis added)
Continue reading here.

Romney press conference quotes:

“The plant here has been open a 100 years. It survived The Great Depression. It couldn’t survive the Obama economy.”

“The president’s time is being focused on playing golf, and campaigning – he’s campaigning in Pennsylvania today – and blaming.”

“He [Obama] should be spending his time and energy working on getting Americans back to work and fixing this economy.”

A portion of Romney’s presser:

See additional video here.

“I can assure voters that if I were President of the United States I would spend every waking moment doing what I could to get Americans back to work. I would focus my energy and my passion on the economy and on getting Americans good jobs.” ~ Mitt Romney

Before his visit, Romney’s campaign released an “Obama isn’t workingvideo on YouTube showing that more than 100,000 jobs have been lost in Pennsylvania since 2009. Laura Ingraham (substituting for Sean Hannity on FOX News) called the ad “Very dramatic. Very powerful. Very hot.” Dana Perino (former George W. Bush White House Press Secretary and FOX News contributor), a guest on Ingraham’s show, said “The Romney campaign consistently puts out good ads. Provocative. Well put together.”

On another FOX News program, after seeing Romney’s ad, FOX contributor Monica Crowley exclaimed, “Wow, guys. That is such a powerful ad!


► Jayde Wyatt