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Monday, August 6, 2012

As Ticket Speculation Swirls, Romney Goes Shopping


WOLFEBORO, N.H. - In campaign jargon, Mitt Romney is “down” on Monday, meaning he has no public events scheduled.

But that doesn't mean he is idle. Beginning at 8:40 a.m., he made a run to Bradley's Hardware, a grocery store and a pharmacy about a mile from his lakeside home here, emerging from the hardware store with a beige bucket containing what he called “hardware stuff.''

He headed to Hunters Shop ‘n Save and grabbed two ears of native sweet corn, 50 cents apiece, from a display outside.

Democrats may be thumping the drum about those undisclosed tax returns, and Team Romney announcing a $100 million donor haul in July, but the presumed Republican nominee was shopping for dinner.

Asked if he was cooking on Monday night, he said: “I'll make my own dinner. That's not exactly cooking.''

He emerged from the grocery store after only 10 minutes and, despite strapping Secret Service agents at th e ready, loaded the items himself into a Suburban. They included 12-packs of Caffeine Free Diet Coke, Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi and bags including Greek yogurt.

“I've got some folks coming over today,'' Mr. Romney told the press corps.

Asked if the folks included Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty, Mr. Romney answered, “Ha, ha, ha ha.''

The political world may be holding its breath wondering about Mr. Romney's vice-presidential choice â€" Mr. Portman, an Ohio senator, and Mr. Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, are thought to be on the short list â€" but from all public appearances, it is another lovely day on Lake Winnipesaukee during August vacation season.

Of course, looks are deceiving. That is why Mr. Romney's every movement and utterance are watched and parsed for any scrap of a detail that might reveal his intentions. Garrett Hakke, an NBC reporter out for a jog in Wolfeboro on Monday morning, caught sight of Mr. Rom ney's motorcade and sent a blast description of the passenger in the back seat: “open collared shirt and looking down, I presume at his iPad.''

After returning from his errands around 9:30, Mr. Romney planned to remain at home the rest of the day, hunkered in meetings with senior advisers, a campaign aide told the press corps.