TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Just 24 hours before Michiganders head to the polls for the Republican presidential primary, Mitt and Ann Romney spent an evening up north, flaunting their Michigan roots and wooing a crowd with stories of stolen kisses and lakeside games.
“You know this young lady next to me, she and I used to spend a little time in Manistee, just down the shoreline a little bit. Her parents had a cottage,” Romney began. “I actually kissed her there. And ahhh — Oh yeah, oh yeah. She was 16, I was 18, you know.”
Quick to the draw, Ann Romney admitted to the crowd gathered in the Park Place Hotel that their teenage affection didn’t go unnoticed.
“This is old stompin’ grounds,” she said. “Mitt mentioned he stole a kiss up here. Well, that’s nice. My father caught us, by the way. We were on the pier, do you remember that? I love being in Michigan because I love doing this.”
Romney spent the morning in Daytona Beach, Fla., where he mingled with fans and held an informal finance event, before heading to Northern Michigan for a campaign stop.
Refraining from mentioning chief GOP rival Sen. Rick Santorum by name, Romney did make a veiled reference to him, referring to Santorum as “one of them” in a remark about the rest of the Republican field.
“We have some other good folks in the race, the other two sort of leading contenders are folks who spent their life in Washington, working there and being elected officials there,” Romney said. “I don’t think you can change Washington if you’ve been part of the culture of Washington. The other night at the debate when one of them said that, you know, he voted against something or voted for something he disagreed with and he said he did it to take one for the team. But my team is the people of Michigan and of America and I’m going to fight for you.
“If you want to send someone to Washington who is down there working for his team, whoever that might be, and working around the edges to make little changes here and little changes there and to work with this committee and that subcommittee and so forth, then there are plenty of other people to choose,” Romney said. “But if you want someone who will dramatically and fundamentally change Washington and bring us more jobs and less debt and smaller government, then I’m your guy.”