LIke most Americans, the Romneys like to have fun on vacation in their $60k speedboat.
(btw - Ann and Michelle - arms race?)
The presidential race hasn't really got going and is unlikely to until the conventions at the end of the summer. But a fierce battle is going on just beneath the surface, focused in swing states and occasionally erupting into the national conversation. Both candidates are attempting to win the election before the election campaign really starts. But it's the Obama campaign that is making the early running.
The basic dynamic of this election goes like this: Obama wants to define Romney as Gordon Gekko, while Romney wants to define Obama as Jimmy Carter. The Obama people think their best hope is to make voters think of Romney as the kind of guy who is more likely to fire you than get you a job. The Romney people want voters to think that the man in the Oval Office is asleep at the wheel.
Obama is currently spending more than Romney. Voters in swing states can't switch the TV on without hearing about how rich Romney is, how many layoffs he forced through when he was head of Bain Capital, and how many jobs he outsourced.
This won't necessarily work. Voters tend to think, rightly or wrongly, that if a guy's made a lot of money, then he's probably quite smart. They may also think that if Romney's a ruthless bastard - well, that's what the country needs.
But it will work if the Romney campaign doesn't change tack. So far, it has been concentrating the poor state of the economy, day-in, day-out, attempting to fix the sense of national stagnation firmly to the president. That's understandable: we all recall James Carville's famously simple winning strategy for Bill Clinton in 1992.
But as Charlie Cook - veteran political commentator and toupee-wearer - points out, it's not enough to persuade voters to fire a president - you also have to persuade them to hire you. Romney hasn't communicated a clear plan of his own for the economy, other than a vague sense that he would "fix it" in the way he used to fix failing companies. If the Obama campaign succeed in damaging his business credibility, then he really has nothing left.
The other problem with Romney's strategy is that it misinterprets the significance of Carville's Law. Bill Clinton's campaign may have focused on its economic message, but there were three big differences with Romney.
One, Clinton had a clear economic plan, rooted in a coherent theory of America's problems - and of course, he was a master at communicating that plan in a way that connected with voters.
Two, Clinton had more than an economic message. As William Kristol (!) points out, Clinton was a "full-spectrum" candidate, with detailed policy proposals on everything from education to healthcare. Voters may not have known the details or agreed with the policies, but they got a clear sense that here was a man who had spent a long time thinking about what he wanted to do as president.
Three, Clinton was a three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood personality. Yes, there was a little too much flesh and yes, he wasn't to everyone's taste. But by the end of that extraordinary primary campaign, voters felt they knew him pretty well.
The same can't be said of Romney. Voters can't see beneath the sculpted hairdo and robo-pol grin. Furthermore, whatever Obama's weaknesses, a big strength of his is likeability. A new poll contains an extraordinary statistic: even one-third of voters backing Romney consider the president to be the more likable of the two.
This isn't necessarily a fatal problem for Romney. In fact, you could say it's evidence he has room to grow as a candidate - voters just don't know him yet.
But his relentless focus on economic bad news isn't helping him. He needs to show voters that he's applying for President, not Trade Secretary.