Fun and games for Romney as family gather in $8m home
SURROUNDED by his five sons, their wives and 18 grandchildren, Mitt Romney will preside over his own family version of the Olympics at his $8m (€6.3m) New Hampshire estate this week.
The ferociously competitive games are a series of wholesome American contests that embody the Republican presidential challenger's tastes for tough competition and organised fun.
At a minimum, all adult members of the clan are expected to take part in a mini-triathlon of running, cycling and swimming. But after nearly losing to a daughter-in-law who had given birth just two months before, the 65-year-old Mr Romney expanded the games in an effort to compensate for his advancing age.
The family now competes to hammer the most nails into a board in two minutes, saw the most logs and hang on to a pole for the longest time before losing their grip. "We added some things I excel at so I don't come in last every year," Mr Romney said.
The former Massachusetts governor's ultra-competitive streak is hardly unusual among contenders for the White House. President Barack Obama is known to become prickly during games of basketball.
The games are just one part of the week-long retreat that Mr Romney takes with his family each year. The grandchildren perform a talent show on a wooden stage Mr Romney put up in the garden and the family poses for a group photograph wearing coordinated outfits.
Each adult contributes to the running of the 13-acre lake house by choosing a task from the "chore wheel" and in the evenings they gather for long discussions about each son's next career move.
While all five of Mr Romney's sons claim to look forward to the annual holiday, none pretends to have any choice but to attend. Tagg Romney, the eldest, described how he tried to back out one year, saying he was unable to get time off from his job at the Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball team. "My dad said: 'No, you will make it.' I had to beg forgiveness from my bosses at the Dodgers."
Mr Romney has been going to the house in Wolfeboro for more than a decade but this year his presence in New Hampshire may also be to his electoral advantage. He and Mr Obama are level in the polls in the state, whose four electoral votes could prove decisive in a close November election. (© Daily Telegraph, London)