There come downtimes during this convention when there's nothing of consequence to cover and you find yourself sitting at a bus stop, clawing your eyes out in slow-motion boredom as Fox News' 20x30 big screen drones on in the background about sleeper cells and property damage and surges working.
But then you see Willard Mitt Romney, in all his robotic gusto, strolling along an empty St. Paul street, and you figure, meh, why not follow the weird Mormon around for awhile, maybe see what brand of gum he fancies? At the very least, it will burn a few calories.
We spotted him just outside Roy Wilkins auditorium around 4:00 p.m. walking with two of his staffers. We hustled up beside the former Massachusetts governor and asked him if he'd mind answering a few questions. He said no, he's not doing any interviews right now, he has to be somewhere. (Everyone here has to be somewhere, anywhere, thiswhere, thatwhere.) His staffer echoed the notion, though he switched up the syntax.
We lurked 20 feet behind the trio as they marched forward. His staffers kept sneaking looks back. As we rounded a corner we were greeted with the indecipherable chants of demonstrators a block ahead near St. Peter Street.
Romney squinted ahead at the scene, then turned to a quintet of police officers for guidance.
"Can't get through this way," one of them said. "You'll have to go around."
And so we went back the way we came, his staffers continuing to look back in this direction.
"Which paper did you say you were from?" one asked.
We reached a gated dead-end on the wrong side of 5th Street. We backtracked some more towards a security checkpoint that allowed us to get back on 5th Street. There, a few people (delegates?) shouted Romney's name and he smiled in response.
Seconds after we penetrated the gate/checkpoint, a ruckus sounded behind. We turned around to see a security guard--an older woman--splayed on the pavement. She had evidently tripped over... something.
About seven people, some security guards, others bystanders, flocked to her aid. Romney and his crew took advantage of the distraction and continued down the sidewalk unmolested.
But after they stopped further down the sidewalk to wait for their ride, a few delegates mustered the sand to approach him.
"It's good to have you in Minnesota, sir!" said one. Seconds later, a sleek black hybrid Tahoe pulled up along the curb to pick up the ex-VP frontrunner.
Rather than thank the citizen for his hospitality, Romney--who boasts the interpersonal skills of an autistic salamander--attempted to crack to wise about the vehicle.
"I believe this is covered, right, with, uh, bulletproof glass!" Then he climbed inside.
His onlookers smiled politely and nodded. (Everyone here nods.)