Mitt Romney looks to be stocking up for holiday gathering during shopping run to Costco

WASHINGTON—The brim of his hat is high on his head. He’s wearing sunglasses, and seemingly trying to remain incognito. But there’s no mistaking Mitt Romney as he recently walked the aisles of a Costco, doing some early holiday shopping.

Romney was captured in a series of photographs as he shopped at the discount store near his home in La Jolla, Calif.

The images were captured by gossip site TMZ, and featured in a photo gallery on its website today (along with “Chris Brown’s Amsterdam’s Adventures” and “Kate Middleton – Through the Years”).

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Romney is seen reaching for a toy Camaro (one that TMZ tracked down as being manufactured in China). He’s seen pushing a cart through an aisle, expressionless. He’s seen walking toward his car, with a cart full of items (a large box of Bisquick, fruity snacks, Arrowhead bottled water, V8 juice drinks).

Ann Romney, striking in all black with a hot pink scarf framing her face and blonde hair, trailed behind her husband and helps him load their black Audi Q7.

In one indication that they are preparing for a house full of guests, they also loaded up with paper plates, paper cups, and a 12-pack of Kirkland brand paper towels.

The Romneys typically have their five sons and their families alternate the Christmas holidays, and this year is the year when they are scheduled to be with Mitt and Ann.

While preparing for a family gathering around one of their favorite times of year, the experience must also make Romney cringe.

A month ago, he had some of the most talented photographers in the nation traveling with him, and some of the best advance aides in politics trying to stage the perfect images for the nation to see. But now, Romney is being trailed by paparazzi with long lenses, capturing the former presidential candidate in a most unflattering light.

And a candidate who never seemed like relish having reporters close by – and was always wary of a stray cellphone shot or misstatement on a rope line – has to deal with being tracked by TMZ, a celebrity gossip website whose home turf just happens to be Southern California, where Romney has one of his three homes.