FAIRFIELD, Va. – Mitt Romney ordered his motorcade to make an abrupt U-turn in rural Virginia today, after zipping by a group of elementary school students waving in the front yard of the school, so he could go back and meet them.
It was the candidate’s decision to make the impromptu stop, an aide said, Romney standing beside Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell as a group of roughly 100 squealing students, who had since retreated inside Fairfield Elementary School, were promptly marched back outside of the school house by an advance staffer.
“Thanks for waving at me as I came by, I decided to come by and say ‘hi’ to you guys,” Romney told the kids, many of whom were fourth- and fifth-graders.
Romney was overheard telling one of the kids that fourth-grade was his favorite.
“I just saw you on TV,” one little girl said to Romney, overcome by excitement and giggling.
Romney, still dressed in a suit and a tie from his formal foreign policy speech he had completed just prior, was visibly amused, laughing with the kids.
One student approached Romney and asked, “Are you Mitt Romney?” The candidate replied, “I am Mitt Romney. And that’s your governor. That’s Governor McDonnell.”
After a boy leaned in and said something to Romney, the Republican challenger said, “Thank you, I appreciate that.”
Romney told McDonnell the boy had told him that if he were old enough, he would vote for him.
McDonnell himself couldn’t help but dole out some life advice to the pop-up receiving line, telling one student, “Listen to your teacher now, and you will grow up to be successful.”
Some of the kids waiting in line to meet Romney were spotted trying to interact with the Secret Service agents – who generally don’t hold conversations while on duty – and others hopped up and down in the grass while they waited their turn.
This was Romney’s third impromptu stop in the past several days, having dropped into two Florida restaurants unannounced this weekend, and comes as the Romney campaign seeks to humanize the candidate.
While President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden often make such stops, Romney does so less often, instead opting to keep to his public schedule.