For the second year in a row, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney courted voters Sunday at the Daytona 500 — the first and most prestigious race of the NASCAR season.
Wearing a red windbreaker, Romney was in full campaign mode: The New York Times reports he showed up unexpectedly early for his racetrack tour with Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, signed autographs and posed for pictures with anyone who asked.
The campaigning context, though, didn't preclude Romney from unleashing a litany of hilarity — some purposefully humorous one-liners, as well as other funny statements that are perhaps best termed "unintentional comedy."
A sampling of that humor, from the New York Times' thorough account:
- When Carroll asked Romney if he had ever raced: "I have not raced — let’s just say not on a legal racecourse. Back in my youth, we would drive up and down (Detroit thoroughfare) Woodward Avenue, sometimes a little fast.”
- When a fan asked him to sign a seat cushion: "Isn't that cool? I wonder where my signature is going to be all day."
- When a drunk man shouted "Go Obama!" at Romney, the candidate shot back: "Absolutely! Get rid of (Obama)."
- When a woman asked him to sign a dollar bill: "I can’t sign currency, it’s illegal."
The Associated Press coverage of Romney's trackside visit included these additional nuggets:
- When asked whether he follows NASCAR: "Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some friends who are NASCAR team owners."
- The No. 26 car driven by Tony Raines is practically covered by logos promoting Republican presidential candidate and Romney rival Rick Santorum, whose campaign sponsors the car. AP reported: "Asked if he would be rooting for something bad to happen to the No. 26 car Romney laughed, saying, 'I hope all the cars have a good race.' Even Santorum's? 'I just hope they all have a good race,' Romney said."
NOTE: Due to inclement weather, the Daytona 500 was postponed until Monday for the first time in its 54-year history.