For a moment, ever so briefly, we touched fingers.
“Mitt, Mitt,” I yelled, waving a business card in my hand.
At first, Mitt Romney had ignored my pleas for attention.
But then, probably by accident, we made eye contact.
He had no choice but to address my persistence. He snatched the Register business card out of my hand.
And he promptly placed it in his front shirt pocket.
“I’m with the Sandusky Register,” I said, making a telephone signal with my hand placed next to my ear. “Call me.”
Romney looked confused for a second, then eked out a smile.
Or maybe he just stared at me blankly. I couldn’t tell. The crowd giggled a bit.
I’m not sure of the odds that my business card stayed in his front pocket and actually went with him as he left the massive gypsum plant in Lorain Thursday.
But I know I watched as the Republican presidential candidate placed my business card in his shirt pocket.
My card, in his pocket.
I can’t imagine doing much better than that in my quest to grab some face-time with Romney.
At the end of the 18 minutes of Obama-bashing, Romney basked in a sort of rock-star atmosphere that fell somewhere short of crowd-surfacing and mosh pits.
Just a side note: There were a lot of white people from bedroom communities like Avon Lake.
Romney went around shaking hands and signing autographs.
He literally held two babies.
People surged at him like hogs to a feeder trough.
They shrieked and smiled at the excitement of his nearness.
At least 20 cameras and iPhones were raised high, hands struggling to overcome the jitters.
Stone-faced security guards made it clear that visitors of my kind — the media — weren’t welcome up front near the Republican powerhouse.
No, Romney handshakes were reserved for the hand-picked.
I watched from the “press pen” — their word, not mine — with a growing sense of duty. I couldn’t just stand by while my mark mingled just 20 yards away.
I ducked the nylon rope and made my way into the crowd. My first foray got me within 5 feet of Romney.
I didn’t have the heart to shove old women and mothers and babies out of my way, so I retreated to strategize.
Romney was making a lateral sweep along the gallery gate.
The crowd bulged in front of him, and there was no way I was going to penetrate through the throngs of Republican revelers.
But then I looked left — the crowd-corralling rail was empty about 30 feet away.
I dashed toward a single empty spot at the very corner of the rail. And there I waited. I fished out my business card as Romney crept down the line.
My foresight was spot on — Romney came right at me. I basked in the success of my brilliant tactic.
You know the rest of the story: I handed him my card, and told him we should totally do lunch.
Even still, my success Thursday wasn’t limited to the business card exchange.
I also tracked down two of Romney’s three public relations gurus — Ryan Williams and Rick Gorka.
After jotting down the correct spellings of their names, and their emails, I explained my goal of landing an in-person interview with Romney.
Williams said it’s probably doable — Ohio is a pivotal battleground state, and Romney will definitely be back.
Baby steps. Baby steps.
Or maybe, one colossal step in the right direction.
Each presidential election year the Register chooses two reporters to keep tabs on the national candidates and attempt to reel them in for a visit to our fine Northern Ohio home. This year reporter Andy Ouriel is following President Barack Obama's re-election campaign while reporter Emil Whitis gives his attention to the GOP race and probable candidate Mitt Romney. They update readers regularly on their progress in a series we call "Chasing the President."