US DIARY ORLA HEALY
Kudos to Ann Romney, who has won the fashion face-off that lit up cyberspace on Tuesday night when she and Michelle Obama showed up at the second presidential debate wearing remarkably similar fuchsia frocks.
While it's not clear whether they chose their bright pink looks in a nod to Breast Cancer Awareness Month or simply to support their husbands' gender-issue-themed arguments that night, the coincidence (earnestly described as "kind of cringeworthy" by designer Yeohlee Teng in the New York Times) spawned a slew of "Who Wore It Best" contests and the opportunity for style scribes to indulge in catty critiques of both women's wardrobe choices.
Mrs Obama's Michael Kors two-piece (a slim, sleeveless sheath and cropped jacket with bracelet-length sleeves), accessorised with black patent pumps, a single strand of pearls, nude lips and a bouffant blow-out, got the thumbs up from the trade-bible Women's Wear Daily, which deemed the look "ho-hum" and "bland" but allowed that it "points to the First Lady for polish, simplicity and knowing the value of a tailor".
Mrs Romney's Oscar de la Renta (a knee-length crimped cotton silk dress with cap sleeves), worn with a double strand of green beads, baby blue nail varnish and at one point a brocade wrap, was described as "completely fine", but her shawl, according to WWD, "seemed like it wandered over from the lost and found. Maybe she borrowed it from a nice older woman in the audience when a chill hit the air. Meanwhile, the ship has sailed on her experimental nail polish days. The lesson to Romney: you can't be fabulous at every age at once."
Mrs Romney, however, scored big in the crucial court of public opinion when it was revealed that the price-tag for her $1,690 dress was dwarfed by the cost of Mrs Obama's $3,290 ensemble. In a message both their husbands will probably address in their final debate tomorrow night, it's still -- even at the silliest level -- all about the economy.
Never say never, again
Ann Romney is adamant that if her husband loses this race, it will be his last. "Absolutely, he will not run again," she told the hosts of the daytime TV show The View on Thursday when she was asked whether losing to President Obama would end Mitt Romney's political career.
"Nor will I," she added, to stress her point.
Hours later, a video taped after Romney's ill-fated 2008 campaign surfaced featuring Ann telling her husband, "I'm never doing this again."
His response: "You know, Ann, you say that after every pregnancy."
No party piece for Michelle
Michelle Obama would like a little time out. The First Lady, who is now spearheading her husband's fundraising efforts in the run-up to November 7, says she's fed up being hauled in and out of events without so much as a minute to join in the party.
"I miss all the fun stuff," she told the audience at a Park Avenue bash on Wednesday, where a group including Chris Rock, James Earl Jones, Blair Underwood, Cynthia Nixon, Sam Waterston and Geena Davis staged readings under the direction of Mike Nichols.
"They just pull me in. If we've got a great singer, I never get to hear him sing," she kvetched. "Everybody goes, 'You've got a great event. This person is going to be there!' And I'm like, 'Am I going to be there?' 'No, actually, you're going to miss everything.' So was the case tonight."
Mrs Obama, who cast her early election vote on Tuesday (tweeting: "Hey, @BarackObama, I just dropped my absentee ballot in the mail -- I couldn't wait for Election Day! Love you! -- mo") isn't the only high-profile Democrat willing an end to the campaign frenzy.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry admits he is also counting down the minutes. The one-time Oval office hopeful -- who has been serving as the stand-in for Mitt Romney during the President's debate prep sessions -- refused to discuss his "impersonation strategy" with reporters last week, but he did admit, "It's been an interesting exercise . . . I've decided next Tuesday I've got to have an exorcism of Romney out of my being."
Romney boys pull no punches
Tagg Romney, the eldest of Mitt and Ann's five square-jawed lookalike sons, says he wanted to punch Obama's lights out after the President called his father a liar during Tuesday night's debate.
"(You) jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the debate stage and take a swing at him," the 42-year-old said in a radio interview, "but you know you can't do that because. . . there's a lot of secret service people between you and him."
But according to his younger brother Josh, Tagg is full of hot air. "You really don't like to see your dad get beat up by the media or President Obama, so you take it pretty personally," Josh said in full spin control on Thursday. The Harvard MBA, known as "the dreamy one", also showed why he is tipped as the most likely family member to take the public service mantle from his father when he playfully added: "That brother has slugged me a couple times. . . President Obama has nothing to worry about."