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Ann and Mitt Romney's middle-class photo op

July 05, 2012|By Robin Abcarian
  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and wife Ann on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, N.H., where the Romneys have a vacation home.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and wife Ann on Lake Winnipesaukee… (Charles Dharapak / AP Photo )

No way around it: That photo of Ann and Mitt Romney sitting tandem on a Sea-Doo in New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee is pretty darn cute, and not really what you’d expect from sexagenarian parents of five and the grandparents of a “bevy” of Romneys, as the Republican presidential candidate put it Wednesday during a Fourth of July parade in Wolfeboro, N.H.

The Romney campaign is so controlled it’s hard to imagine that the couple did not at least pause to consider the optics before strapping on their life vests and leaving dry land. Sure, after tooling around the lake, they retired to the comfort of a gorgeous waterfront mansion, but there is nothing to suggest snobbery in their choice of sports.

In fact, quite the opposite, as motorboating and power-skiing are solid middle-class sports. (Rule of thumb: If it’s against the law to do a sport while drinking, it’s probably not considered snobby.)

It may strike some as silly to worry about such a thing, but every spontaneous photo opportunity during a presidential campaign comes with inherent risk.

Who can forget the time in 2004 that Romney’s fellow blue-blooded presidential candidate from Massachusetts got slaughtered in the ad wars after whipping around the waters off Nantucket on a sailboard?

The image of a patrician John Kerry windsurfing back and forth sent “elite meters” into the red zone and helped Republican adman Mark McKinnon indelibly illustrate the charge that the Democratic presidential contender’s positions changed with the wind.

The Romneys, on the other hand, looked like a pair of fun-loving teenagers as they zipped around the lake on Monday, with Ann steering and Mitt holding on behind her.

Of course, come late summer, the sporting optics will change, as the Romneys head to London for the Summer Olympics, where their horse Rafalca will compete in dressage on the U.S. equestrian team. It doesn’t get more elite than that.

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