Calculating and cowardly!

Asked about the fate of the Department of Education in a potential Romney administration, the former governor suggested it would also face a dramatic restructuring.

“The Department of Education: I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller. I’m not going to get rid of it entirely,” Romney said, explaining that part of his reasoning behind preserving the agency was to maintain a federal role in pushing back against teachers’ unions. Romney added that he learned in his 1994 campaign for Senate that proposing to eliminate the agency was politically volatile.

At that time, Sen. Ted Kennedy ran ads against Romney — then a political neophyte — accusing him of being uncaring for saying he wished to eliminate the agency.

Romney told the audience here tonight (along with the Weekly Standard in an interview in early April) that that experience remains fresh in his mind. It’s contributed to his caution in publicly naming federal agencies and programs he would eliminate or dramatically curtail.

Calculating and cynical!

Mrs. Romney acknowledged Republicans’ deficit at present with female voters, and urged the women in attendance to talk to their friends, particularly about the economy. She also discussed the criticism she faced this week, and her pride in her role as a mother.

“It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it,” Mrs. Romney said.

Meanwhile, the face of common salt-of-the-Earth American stay-at-home moms gets a well-deserved respite from ironing/vacuuming/doing the laundry/picking up after the kids:

Yes, that was First Lady hopeful Ann Romney on Worth Avenue Saturday, looking very Palm Beach-y in her hot pink tunic and jeans with her shoulder-length blond hair. The only thing missing was the Helga Wagner necklace.

Mitt’s missus spent four hours with Alfred Fiandaca, her old pal from Boston who closed the store for her so she could shop in peace without any worries about paparazzi grabbing a shot of her in the fitting room. Trying on a little something to wear to tonight’s big dinner at Darlene and Jerry Jordan’s house, perhaps? When they’re paying 50k a couple, a lady wants to look good.

The private shopping went well for the wife of the presumptive candidate — c’mon, like that’s not a given by now — but for the customers who had “Stop by Alfred’s” at the top of their Saturday to-do list, well, not so much. They had to wait. Some did, patiently and quietly. Others did, not so patiently and not so quietly.

Finally, Ann strolled out, shopping bags in hand, smiled at the small crowd gathered on the sidewalk, climbed into the big black car waiting at the curb, and drove off.