Evan Vucci / Associated Press (m8yjw1pd20120818172708/600 )
With his White House aspirations riding in no small part on the kind of Ohio voter who favors Budweiser over Pouilly-Fuissé, Mitt Romney -– like John F. Kerry before him -– has been struggling mightily to shed his image as a man of the Massachusetts elite.
This weekend, he gave it a break.
Romney took a jaunt to the most rarefied precincts of Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod and Nantucket on Saturday, after a Friday evening of mingling with millionaires in the Hamptons on Long Island.
It was all part of a chase, by private plane of course, for campaign money.
The former governor of Massachusetts left most of his traveling press behind. ("Bad optics," campaign consultants call it.) Instead, he let just a small pool of reporters tag along to catch glimpses of Romney mostly from afar as he and his entourage made their way along such streets as Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton, N.Y.
“An 8-foot hedge blocked your pooler's view of Romney exiting the house and getting into his SUV,” a journalist in the pool reported from outside the Southampton estate of hedge fund mogul Martin Gruss, where the Republican candidate stayed overnight on Friday.
Around the time of Romney’s “clambake luncheon” on Martha’s Vineyard, which included a $50,000-a-ticket VIP reception, President Obama was telling a less well-to-do crowd in New Hampshire that his rival was pushing tax cuts for the rich on the premise that “somehow prosperity’s going to rain down on all of you.”
Not that Obama, whose fundraising dinners with the likes of George Clooney have made headlines, hasn’t had optics problems of his own. Republicans trashed Obama when his campaign put out a video of Vogue editor Anna Wintour telling donors “don’t be late” to a soiree at Sarah Jessica Parker’s house on the same day that the unemployment rate notched up to 8.2%.
Romney’s weekend opened at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, where his motorcade rolled through the stately brick gates and up a long, winding driveway. Guests included NFL football team owners Steve Ross (Miami Dolphins) and Woody Johnson (New York Jets).
“I guess if all golf courses were like this, I can understand why the president plays so much golf,” Romney told donors at the club. “If I had a course like this near me, I think I’d probably play a lot of rounds as well. This is just gorgeous.”
On Martha’s Vineyard, Romney joined donors at a private home near the Farm Neck Golf Club, where Obama and former President Bill Clinton have played during family vacations.
Before taking off for Cape Cod, where billionaire businessman Bill Koch and his wife, Bridget, threw a reception for Romney, the candidate lamented his time spent hunting for money.
“You appreciate all the help you get,” he said. “But you wish you could spend more time on the campaign trail."
From Cape Cod, Romney flew on to Nantucket, where Kerry’s windsurfing during his 2004 campaign for president was captured on videotape that was used in advertising by PresidentGeorge W. Bush’s reelection campaign to portray the Massachusetts senator as a flip-flopping elitist.