Romney’s effort gets underway Saturday in Virginia, when he begins a four-day bus tour through swing states that will include his wife, Ann, and several possible running mates.
By showing the candidate connecting with blue-collar America, the tour is designed to help Romney shed the caricature that the Obama campaign has tried to draw of him as an elitist who looks out only for the wealthiest. Romney plans to tour the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk and to swing by a bakery in Ashland, Va., on Saturday. He will stage a rally Sunday at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C., near Charlotte.
Aboard his campaign plane Friday evening, Romney told reporters: “Bus tour, it’s great! It’s great to be out campaigning. . . . Campaigning is the most fun, is the most enjoyable and rewarding.” Romney then clapped his hands and returned to his seat at the front of the plane. “Back to my yogurt,” he said.
Romney’s focus on the middle class will carry into the convention at the end of this month. The national spotlight will shine brighter in Tampa than at any other moment in Romney’s campaign, and his supporters are betting that many voters will form their impressions of him then.
“To borrow a phrase, the convention has the potential to be an ‘Etch a Sketch moment,’ ” said Mark McKinnon, a longtime Republican image-maker who advised the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain. “Conventions often wipe the slate clean. A crucial bloc of undecided voters, though there aren’t many this year, will just start paying attention when the convention starts.”
Romney’s advisers are putting the finishing touches on plans to reintroduce the candidate to the nation. They have filmed new videos with Romney and his family at his lakefront vacation home in Wolfeboro, N.H., and are devising a prominent role onstage for Ann Romney and their extended family.
“Americans are going to get a real close look at Governor Romney, his wife, Ann, and the entire family,” senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told reporters here Friday. “I think that they’re going to be impressed by the fact that this is a family that shares their values. He shares their values of hard work, of patriotism, of sacrificing so that the next generation has it better than the current one.”
For Romney, a big moment couldn’t come soon enough. Weeks of pummeling by Democratic ads depicting Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat and possible tax evader appear to have taken a toll.