ABOARD THE ROMNEY PLANE — Ann Romney has finished her convention speech, rehearsed in front of teleprompters and arranged for her husband to be in Tampa on Tuesday night to watch her deliver it. She has even baked hundreds of Welsh cakes for reporters and friends.
But hours before what amounts to her national debut, the would-be first lady had one last decision to make: pick out a dress.
“The funniest thing of all is that Stuart Stevens, who wears his shirts inside out, is advising me on what dress I should wear tonight, so I know I’ve come really full circle now,” a relaxed Romney told reporters, playfully referring to her husband’s often-ruffled political Svengali.
“The verdict is still out on what I’m going to wear, which is amazing,” she said. “Frankly, I didn’t realize that Stuart had to weigh in on this — or my husband. It was going to be like my wedding night; I wasn’t going to let him know what I was going to wear. But now they have opinions.”
What those opinions are, she wouldn’t say. But Romney told the female journalists aboard the morning flight from Boston to Tampa that she wanted “to do an off-the-record consult with you girls.”
Romney, noting she has “never given a speech like this before,” said she was excited to step into the spotlight on Tuesday night.
“I think you will see that my speech is heartfelt,” Romney told reporters. “I think a lot of you have been covering me long enough, and you know I’ve never gone off a written text. So this is a unique experience for me to actually have something written because I’ve never used it. No one has ever written a speech for me — I’ve never given anything off a sheet.”
Romney offered little in the way of a preview, saying only that she would discuss “how important this election’s going to be and how important it’s going to be for them to consider the right things to make their right decisions.”
She said her speech was finished, although she and her husband, as well as Stevens and campaign adviser Kevin Madden, were tweaking words here and there during the flight.
“It’s going to be pretty, pretty tough to actually write a speech that I feel like I can actually give, and — so I had a lot of input in this, I must say, and a lot of tweaking where I felt like I was getting what I really wanted to say from my heart,” Romney said.
At that, Romney moseyed down the aisle with a Christmas-themed tin of Welsh cookies, which she baked Monday afternoon in her Belmont, Mass., townhouse.
“You know, instead of working on my speech, which Stuart and I have now got down to a tweet, I decided I was so excited to be home that I just loved to do what I love to do, which is bake,” she said, telling reporters: “We’ll see whether you guys like the Welsh cakes.”
Romney said she used an old family recipe for the mini scone-like cookies, which traditionally are served with afternoon tea. But she admitted that her Welsh grandmother was “a terrible cook, and I never liked her Welsh cakes growing up,” so she taught herself “to make them in such a way that they’re much more moist and delicious.”
Asked to share her secret, Romney demurred.
“The secret is you have to watch me,” she said. “I’ll have to only do this with a cooking demonstration, because it really isn’t like baking regular cookies. They’re not regular cookies.”