Now come snapshots from Mitt Romney’s summer vacation.
And the buttoned-down, perfectly coiffed candidate for president has let his hair down.
There’s Romney, in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, ordering an ice cream cone.
There’s Romney surrounded by some of the kids at the family lake house said to be playing host to more than two dozen people during this July Fourth break from the campaign.
Or is it a break from a campaign: Much like the select swimsuit photos of President Barack Obama shirtless in the sea on his home-Hawaiian winter vacations, the photos coming from Lake Winnipesaukee today appear more calculated for effect than any summer retreat.
It’s the GQ Factor in the making of a president, the personal photo album designed to portray a persona unseen on the stump, a personality, not a politician.
Yet in this series of photos from Wolfeboro — there’s Romney piloting a speedboat filled to the gunwales with children back to the lake house, there’s Romney riding a jet-ski (but look who’s driving), and look what happens when she hits the throttle (Romney holds on tight) — it feels more like a Ralph Lauren ad.
It’s all somehow more down to Earth than those regrettable photos of Senator John Kerry wind-surfing (the footage that the Bush campaign played in a portrayal of the Democrat shifting in the wind on the war in Iraq). It’s all more modern than the iconic photos of John Kennedy sailing off Cape Cod — these are motorboats the Romneys are riding. (For the real down-home on the ranch photo-shoot, no one can match George W. Bush’s pickup truck.)
Still, this is not your typical summer vacation. So in every case — walking the town streets of Wolfeboro or huddling at home with the kids — Romney has let his hair go wild for one off-duty week of rest producing a working photo album fit for a campaign ahead.