“We figured because Wendy’s was invented in Ohio,” he said, “what better place to get lunch than Wendy’s, right?”
All day Tuesday, friends e-mailed Romney to say they were proud of the race he ran. And as he flew home to Boston, he could watch the sun setting out his window. His work for the day — and for this long, tumultuous chapter in his career — was finished.
“I feel like we’ve put it all on the field,” he told reporters. “We’ve left nothing in the locker room. We fought till the very end.”
When he touched down in Boston, Romney’s Secret Service detail ferried him to his suite at the Westin, where he reunited with his family, a tight-knit clan of 30. They ate chicken and meatloaf and watched the television networks start to call the states.
There went Pennsylvania, hopes of an upset dashed. And Michigan, Romney’s beloved Michigan — that one fell into Obama’s column pretty quickly. Florida was tight, maybe too tight.
Then came the tough blows. New Hampshire, his adopted home state where he launched his campaign 17 months ago and staged his final rally Monday night. Gone. Iowa, the prairie state that bedeviled him in the caucuses but that he was so sure he would win on Tuesday — Obama.
A couple of hours earlier, holding his 50th and final media availability of this campaign, Romney was talking about appointing a Cabinet. He said he might get a Weimaraner puppy when he moves to Washington.
In the end, though, Romney had to write a concession speech. Just before 1 a.m., he walked out to a ballroom only half full of supporters and gracefully offered Obama his congratulations.
“I so wish — I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader,” Romney said. “And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.”
Romney’s wife joined him on stage, then his five sons and their wives, dressed regally, ready to be introduced as America’s next First Family.
But it was not to be. The Romneys soon exited the stage. And three minutes later, an aide walked out to the lectern. He came to fetch Romney’s script.
Felicia Sonmez in Boston contributed to this report.