Up in the Air; Travels With Mitt Romney

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This is not a presidential election year, but Republican Mitt Romney is running -- well at least hurrying -- to catch an airplane.

Two years ago, when he was vying for the Republican nomination for president he flew on a campaign plane with a staff of aides. Now he walks through the airport rolling his own suitcase, fumbling for his ticket like any other passenger.

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Up in the Air

"It's just the way normal life is," Romney said.

You might call it the new normal. This year, Romney will have traveled to 25 states in two months, flying coach by the way, despite his fortune of several hundred million dollars.

When asked about his choice to fly coach, Romney said he didn't see a reason to fly first class "unless you are going a long distance or there is a real reason for it, like if I have [my wife] Anne with me."

Romney has flown coach since his days as a young employee at Bain Consulting; it was part of the corporate culture there. The retired corporate titan will accept a free upgrade if he qualifies.

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For this trip, it's just Romney by himself, and he's on a mission. Romney said that he is working for a historic victory by the Republican Party.

"There are a lot of races that are very, very close and, you know, I think we peaked very early in this season," Romney said. "I want to make sure that the energy that you saw in September continues to November.

On the day ABC News trailed along with Romney, he had lunch with Senate candidate Ken Buck in Colorado and dinner with New Mexico's Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez.

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"My hope is to bring a little local media to the campaign, to raise some money, for folks that perhaps haven't given money yet and just to bring a little more enthusiasm and say thank-you to the volunteers that make the calls and get people out to vote," Romney said.

Romney Campaigns Everywhere From Airport Lounge to the Air Train

Romney doesn't stop campaigning, even when resting in the airport lounge.

"You are going to vote for John McCain I hope," he tells one potential voter.

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He stays on message, even at a McDonald's in Illinois.

"Mark Kirk, I need his help," he told a woman.

Even the air train provides a moment to help his fellow Republicans. Bracing himself on a pole as the train speeds to the next airport terminal, he talks to a couple on their way to California.

"I hope you will vote for my friend Meg Whitman when you are out there -- think about it," Romney told them.

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There is no question Romney wants to help elect Republicans this year.

"Some were thinking the GOP was an endangered species, and look where we are right now," Romney said. "Now we are wondering how big will our victory be?"

A visit from Romney helps raise money and generate press coverage, but there is, no doubt, more to this. When ABC News asked Romney what he gets out of those thousands of miles of campaigning, his response is "good friends."

When asked whether he expected his Republican friends to return the favor and help him in the future, Romney said, "Look, I don't expect people that are receiving support today are thinking about what's going to happen down the road. This is really time to concentrate on 2010 and the elections coming up, and what the future holds, time will tell."

As for his potential rivals for the 2012 nomination, Romney admits he does keep one eye on the likes of Sarah Palin. "I am always intrigued by the passion and energy of my fellow Republicans. You watch Sarah Palin, she brings such enthusiasm and excitement to a race," Romney said. "Yeah, I watch with interest, and now and then I get a chance to watch the Huckabee Show and he's got good things to say, so yeah I watch these guys."

When pushed on whether his campaign efforts were helping him set up another presidential bid, Romney didn't say no.

"I haven't made that decision and that decision will be made after November, but when after November, I can't predict. The decisions come when they come," he said.

In other words, stay tuned. This coach passenger might be looking for an upgrade.