(AP) – After waking up in Tampa, Fla., Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney walked down a hotel hallway carrying his own bags as he prepared to leave one swing state behind and make his way to another. Accompanied by a few Secret Service agents, he got into his SUV. The interior was surprisingly cramped.
An AP photographer was granted behind-the-scenes access by the Romney campaign to accompany Romney as he traveled Sunday to the critical battleground state of Ohio with just days to go before the election. Pool photographers who regularly travel with Romney requested the access to the campaign. The Obama campaign has not offered such access so far.
On this particular morning, the mood was casual and light. Romney joked with aides, who readily returned the ribbing. Soon after wheels-up for Ohio, advisers convened a strategy meeting in the front of the plane with senior adviser Kevin Madden and chief strategist Stuart Stevens looking over their iPads and MacBooks. Romney was taking notes on a paper writing pad.
Landing at Dayton International Airport, Romney was met on the plane by Sen. Rob Portman, who had brought him a cookie bearing his image and also a page of a local newspaper that had endorsed his candidacy for president. Greeted by running mate Paul Ryan on the tarmac, the group boarded a campaign bus for the two-hour ride to Celina.
In between making hands-free conference calls on their iPhones, they watched Sunday football on the motorcoach’s television screens. Romney made himself snacks of peanut butter and honey sandwiches and also had a banana with peanut butter, which he scooped out of a jar with a plastic spoon.
Upon arriving at a campaign event, Romney regularly meets with supporters backstage for photos, or “clicks” as they’re called. After that, while he is being introduced, he waits in a holding area, or “green room.” A video monitor is available for him to watch the podium as speeches are made before his entrance.
The mood continued to be jovial, with Romney joking around with sports equipment in one holding room and singing with The Oak Ridge Boys in another holding room in a different city.
At the end of a long day of campaigning, Romney took advantage of a quiet moment at the back of his bus to make some phone calls. He later came up to the front of the bus to watch the final game of the World Series with aides, before arriving at a modest hotel in Mansfield. He headed up an elevator for the night, surrounded by Secret Service agents.
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