Romney (pg. 3)

By Marcia Vickers, Fortune senior writer

No matter how whiz-bang Romney's fundraising tactics are, his biggest stumbling block is probably himself. In Alton, N.H., on Memorial Day, Romney is meeting with veterans at the American Legion. It's a flag-waving, mostly blue-collar crowd; many of the older veterans are dripping with military bling. Romney takes the mike and begins his rapid, well-rehearsed talk. He moves from issue to issue, including how "violent jihadists are waging a global war against the United States," and "I want to see more immigration in our country, but more legal immigration and less illegal immigration."

Then it's Q&A time. A few people want to know how to solve personal issues: a son who hasn't received medical benefits since he returned from Iraq; a father who can't get admitted to a VA hospital. Romney looks uneasy. "I'm not an elected official right now," he says, "but if I were ..." He then goes on to say he'd make veteran health care a priority and instructs the people in need to contact their Congressman.

Back at Lake Winnipesaukee, it's an idyllic setting. Romney's Colonial-style house has glorious views of the shimmering lake and the White Mountains beyond. His son Tagg, 37, who seems like a more laid-back version of Mitt and works on the campaign, is running around the yard in a swimsuit and T-shirt with his two dogs. The photographer is about ready, and it's Tagg's turn to cajole the candidate to loosen up. He respectfully asks Dad to lose the jacket. Romney refuses. "All they'll see is my blinding white shirt," he says.

Memorial Day is coming to an end. The grandkids are gathering up toys from the yard. Neighbors have fired up the grill. And there's Mitt Romney, suited up and ready for business.

Telis Demos and Doris Burke contributed to this article. Top of page