Sitting in the sun-filled lobby of the Marriott hotel, Scott Romney paused to reflect how his father, George, the former governor of Michigan, would feel about his son taking the stage as the Republican nominee for president.
He would swell with pride, Scott said. Then he would start meddling.
"There was a time he called me," he recalled of his father in 1994, when Mitt ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. "He said, 'I think Mitt should do this or that.' I said to my dad, 'You know, this is his campaign, and when it's over, maybe he should be able to say he did it his way.'"
George Romney thought about it. "Oh, you're right," he conceded.
Scott, the older brother, is the most visible sibling on the campaign trail this year, a regular presence at primary night rallies, strategy sessions and high-dollar fundraisers.
It was not always so. Scott acknowledged he was "a little tough" on his brother when they were young. "I hope he forgets a number of the things that I did," he said.
He fondly recalled competing for control of the television at their home in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Mitt wanted to watch "Howdy Doody" as he snacked on graham crackers and milk; Scott wanted to watch "real" cowboy movies. (Mitt often prevailed.)
They learned politics at their father's knee, attending their first Republican convention with him in 1964, where they blew up balloons bearing his name. Today, Scott plays the role of protective elder brother, absorbing the bad press and early campaign primary losses, and feeling a deep sting. "I didn't enjoy losing any of the primary contests," he said. "Those were stressful."
When he was selected to pledge Michigan's delegates to his brother during the roll call of the states on Tuesday night, his voice seemed to waver. "I cracked," he acknowledged. "I almost -- I'm almost cracking now talking about it."
The young woman with the clipboard apologized. There was, she insisted, a real-life convention delegate somewhere in the room. She ran off to look. "I can't find him," she said.
On the 41st floor of a law firm in downtown Tampa, Fla., Republicans in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage threw a lavish French toast and mimosa breakfast that drew a crowd of 125.
But a big group was conspicuously underrepresented: the delegates who had nominated Mitt Romney for president.
Gay rights advocates crowed that they had embedded themselves in the fabric of the convention as never before, with disco parties, impassioned speeches, even a full-page advertisement in The Tampa Tribune.
Yet they remained on the edge of the action and, with few exceptions, on the outside of a convention as the party adopted a platform calling for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
"A lot of people are afraid to come out. It's a little harder, I think, to come out to political people at a convention," said Dave Myers of Maryland, one of just four Republican delegates who attended the breakfast. A former Romney campaign worker, he said he was looking past the nominee's opposition to gay marriage. "I don't think he is a hateful man when it comes to this stuff. He has a religious disagreement with gay marriage."
It was the question that smitten young women debated almost 50 years ago: Which Beatle was the cutest? At the Republican convention this week, the question is: Which of Mitt Romney's five sons sends you swooning?
There is Tagg's geek chic; Matt's dark ruggedness; Josh's chiseled face; Ben's doctor smarts; and Craig's surfer body (immortalized in a shirtless photo online.) And when they show up, flocks of admirers tend to gather.
"I think they're all great, but if I had to pick one, I'd pick Matt," said Audrey McNiff, an alternate delegate from Connecticut. "He's so well-spoken, and just seems friendly."
"I like Tagg because of his name," said Anita Berger of Michigan.
Natalie Thomas, 31, a fundraiser, said: "Which one is the doctor, the one with the blonde hair? He's a cutie."
Others, were more conflicted.
"Tagg was my favorite until Matt," said Linda Lee Tarver, a delegate from Michigan who said that he had wowed her at a breakfast on Wednesday with heartfelt stories about his father.