Salena Zito

While her husband was in New Hampshire, Ann Romney was in the early caucus state of Nevada. “I miss not having her by my side,” Romney said during an interview.

Anita Perry was with her husband in South Carolina, spending most of her time introducing herself to voters. “Hi, I am Anita Perry, so nice of you to come and visit with us,” she told a group of women in a crowded Greenville diner.

The Perrys’ daughter, Sidney, rode along, spending her 25th birthday on the campaign bus – “probably not how she expected to spend (it),” her father joked.

American politics is intimate, not just the broad strokes of mishaps, mistakes and misspoken moments captured by TV cameras, blogs and social media.

People who vote early vote earnestly, and take it seriously. They stand in the heat, cold or rain, shoulder to shoulder with strangers, to hear what a candidate has to say.

Whether they pack diners or warehouses, airplane hangers or grocery stores, they ask questions and stay till the very end.

National polls show Perry up over Romney, 27 percent to 14 percent, right now among Republican primary voters. Perry’s team knows there is no “national” Republican primary, however.

Both men must plot a course through the primary schedule. Iowa and South Carolina are easy pick-offs for Perry; New Hampshire, Nevada and Florida may favor Romney.

Both admit that electability weighs on the minds of GOP primary voters.

“Most races are lost, not won,” Perry said towards the end of an interview, an unintentional twist on another Stengel quote.

And, walking into a room with Fenway Park’s “Green Monster” painted on its cinderblock wall, Romney said that nothing teaches you more about winning than losing.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.