DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Mitt Romney stopped by a football game between members of his staff and the press this afternoon, declining to take questions on Iran, the debate or polls, during a rare break from debate prep.
"Let's see, look at the captain," said Romney, walking onto the beach across the street from the Delray Beach, Florida hotel where he's spent time preparing for Monday evening's debate. Romney and his wife Ann spent the morning at church, but shortly after returning the Republican nominee opted to pop by the game.
As he stood and watched the first play, reporters peppered him with questions.
Asked if he would be open to one-on-one talks with Iran, a reference to the White House shooting down a story yesterday in the New York Times that the administration had agreed to the talks, an aide quickly jumped in, "Guys this is a football game, come on."
"I thought you were talking about one-on-one talks with the President, I was about to answer," Romney said, laughing.
Another reporter asked Romney if he feels ready for Monday's debate, to which Romney responded, "Ready for football!"
When asked about this morning poll that showed him in a dead heat nationally with the president, Romney ignored the question altogether.
Prior to the start of the game, Romney conducted the coin toss between a reporter and his communications director, Gail Gitcho. The reporters won the toss - correctly calling "tails."
"Tails it is! That's the last call you guys are getting," Romney said to the group of reporters. "Who's the ringer over here. Who is it who is it?"
Then, poking fun at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was not on hand for today's game, Romney said, "Where's Chris Christie when we need him? He's our line."
Romney led a team huddle among his staff, which included much of his senior brass - Bob White, Senior advisers Peter Flaherty, Ron Kaufman, Eric Fehrnstrom and debate prep partner Sen. Rob Portman. Romney lead them in a team cheer, referencing the popular quote "Clear Eyes Can't Lose" from the television series "Friday Night Lights," and then offered some advice to the team:
"Figure out which of their players is best and take them out early," he said. "That's right, don't worry about injuries guys, this counts. Win."