Updated: September 28, 2012 6:20AM
TAMPA — The reintroduction of Mitt Romney to the American public began in earnest Sunday with the Republican nominee and his, wife, Ann telling us they like to shop at Costco.
I take that back. They both “love” Costco, revealed Mrs. Romney, wrapping themselves in that great bastion of middle-class American consumerism.
And here I suspected he was just another out-of-touch rich guy.
Turns out he’s a bargain-hunting rich guy. Or possibly a bargain-hunting, impulse-buying rich guy.
Does that make him thrifty or just cheap?
I think we’d need to see the Romneys’ actual shopping receipts to adequately analyze this new information. Did he get the 30-pack of tube socks?
As we waited here Sunday for the big blow (Florida-speak for a hurricane) that by day’s end looked like it was going to blow right past this part of the state, the Romneys used the Sunday morning news shows to start rolling out a softer, gentler GOP candidate than the one Americans may have gotten to know so far.
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked the Romneys — in an interview at their New Hampshire summer home — about hearing that they have an “unhealthy attraction” to Costco.
“We both love Costco,” Ann Romney said as her husband sat there and smiled adoringly at her — not having much to say himself but notably not correcting her.
“It’s got great produce,” chimed in the former Massachusetts governor.
“She also got me one of these three-packs of shirts the other day from Costco,” he added later. “And they’re very nice shirts.”
How do you like them now?
Sorry, Mitt, but you lost me right there.
I don’t “love” to shop anywhere. I don’t like shopping at all. Shopping gives me a headache. It means parting with money. I especially don’t like shopping at places where people seem to do it for sport.
While I can appreciate why so many people enjoy going to Costco — and certainly spent my share of money there once upon a time when the kids were younger, I was greatly relieved when my wife finally came to the conclusion I had reached years earlier: that Costco causes you to spend money on stuff you don’t need and in quantities you can never use.
I know there are men who love to shop. I remember seeing some of them in Costco with their shopping carts overflowing with merchandise. Those are not the men I want running the United States.
In truth, I’m not convinced Romney is one of those men.
Mrs. Romney seemed much better acquainted with the subject of Costco than her husband.
She was the one who said she didn’t want to give away her “trick” to shopping the sprawling discount store: “You go in the door. You take a sharp right, and you go way down to the back of the store and just go — just shop the outside of aisles. Boom, boom, boom.”
Perhaps in a follow-up interview Romney can clarify that he likes Costco, though not nearly as much as his wife, and just didn’t want to disabuse her of the notion, as any good husband can appreciate.
Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, a good and loyal Republican, tried to set me straight as we surveyed the cloudy skies from the lobby of the Sheraton Sand Key Resort where the Illinois delegation is staying.
“It shows the Romneys like to save money but also have a grasp on reality of what real people do,” Dillard said. “I want a president who looks for value.”
Telling the candidate’s personal story to the public has become a major function of political conventions since they became canned made-for-television affairs expertly orchestrated by the campaigns. And I know we’ll hear more stories of Romney as an average guy this week.
Perhaps we’ll learn he shops at Wal-Mart, too, although I’ll bet Mrs. Romney isn’t a fan.
Here’s a strange fact that seems pertinent, although I couldn’t tell you what it means: Jim Sinegal, one of the founders of Costco, is scheduled to speak at next week’s Democratic National Convention.
Do the Obamas like to shop at Costco, too? They could probably get a whole case of arugula.