"Move along, folks" - American cries echoing through the corridors of the leader of the opposition's offices signified Romney's arrival - another clue being a shimmering convoy of silver vans (sorry, trucks) pulling up outside.
The US Republican leader, and potential president come November, had arrived in all his smooth, business-like, super PAC-guzzling glory, and greeted a slightly stiff Ed Miliband, red tie crumpled, face fixed. The clash of the not-quite-Titans.
An etching of Keir Hardie peered out from behind the two wannabe leaders in the private Parliamentary office where they met. "Is that Karl Marx?" someone from the press throng remarked. Don't turn around, Mitt.
The two men gazed woodenly at one another, as Ed launched into an explanation of what their talks would be about - "the international economy, Syria, what's happening in the eurozone, and also, of course, our shared interest in the Boston Red Sox." Apparently Ed developed a passion for the baseball team when he lived in Boston for a year as a child. Ever the political strategist.
Ed's guest praised the UK's Olympic efforts, remarking with what looked a like a flicker of relief, that the "weather could not be better." And although he didn't quite invoke the "special relationship" label - sticking to the rather euphemistic "unique" - he cited a "commitment to common values" and praised the British military's work in Afghanistan, and the sacrifices of this "great nation" in a world that "is a tumultuous and dangerous place." Perhaps a sly nod to Obama's vagaries and reticence regarding Libya last year.
Defending his decision to visit the leader of the opposition, Romney argued that "we must all exchange ideas"- about how to win elections, maybe? And Ed chipped in that it was a "good opportunity" to meet, considering the US-UK's "special relationship" (someone had to say it).
The stiffness of the meeting cracked when the economy was brought up, as Romney jovially dodged a question about the plunge in UK growth, leaving it to Miliband. Well-behaved in the presence of a right-winger, he avoided condemning George Osborne, arguing that the problem stems from "the course" the government is following that is "failing" - that "it's not about the personnel, it's about the policy." Romney argued that it would be "remiss" of him to comment on other government's policies, coyly pointing out that he is "careful to be critical of my own government's policies."
Some gushing about a certain opening ceremony left no time for Syria, and before long it was "time to move along, y'all." Will proceedings remain so polite when he goes off to Downing Street to pay a visit to Obama's buddy later today?
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