By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff
BELMONT --- Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, voted about 2:30 this afternoon at Belmont Town Hall, the culmination of a grueling 38 hours of nonstop campaigning that he hopes will keep him in contention for the Republican nomination.
The Romneys walked up the stairs of the 1882 brick building to the applause of about 30 neighbors and were surrounded by a crush of TV news crews and reporters. Once inside, a town worker showed them the staircase to the voting booths.
"We know our way," Mitt Romney said.
"Been here 35 years," Ann Romney said.
Ann Romney completed her ballot first; her husband appeared to labor a bit more over his. Afterward, Mitt Romney asked a poll worker if he could get a sample ballot to keep as a souvenir and was told to check with the clerk's office. When Ann Romney went to deposit her ballot into the optical scan machine and it appeared to stick, a clerk joked, "Is the shredder on?"
The Romneys chuckled.
After they voted, they headed back down the staircase and Mitt Romney marveled at the moment.
"Thatís pretty fun," he said. "First time Iíve ever voted for myself for president."
On a hill several hundred yards from Town Hall, the couple reflected a bit more on the moment
"The opportunity to vote for yourself for president is really something I had never expected to be able to do," Mitt Romney said. "It was a great honor and very humbling to think that weíve come to a point in life where our friends have rallied around us in such an extraordinary way that we have prospects of becoming the nominee of our party to be the President of the United States. We have a lot of work to do before that happens, of course."
One of their first order of business: return to their home for their first full day since Christmas.
"Itís nice to get back and to scare the rodents out, and -- not exactly -- and open the mail," Mitt Romney said. "We have a lot of mail. And you know, a hot bath, what do you think Ann?"
"Sounds good," Ann Romney said.
And they were off.
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