Rebecca Tyrrel: Every day, each family member chooses a task from the Romney 'chore wheel'


Who knew that Mitt Romney rounds up his entire family each summer for a week of athletic challenges known to the clan as "the Romney Olympics"? And who knows what will become of this annual festival of sportin' Mormon mayhem if he is elected US President on Tuesday?

These Romneylympics, not to be confused with the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games Mitt oversaw, are held each July at one of the Republican candidates more bijou residences. He, wife Ann, their five sons and daughters-in-law and so many grandchildren it is impossible to count them (that is possibly one of the set challenges) gather at the 13-acre lakeside compound in New Hampshire for a range of activities which Mitt organises with the same rigorous attention to detail that once saw him strap Seamus the dog to the roof of the car for a long drive to Canada.

Compulsory trials of skill, endurance and strength include kayaking, water-skiing, basketball and tennis. But after only avoiding finishing last at a political rally by tripping up a daughter-in-law who had recently given birth, Mitt extended the disciplines to boost his chances of reaching the podium in the future. They now include such thrilling events as "holding on to a pole the longest", "throwing a football the farthest", and everyone's favourite spectator sport – "Who can hammer the most nails into a wooden board in two minutes?".

But there's some zany fun, too. Every day, each family member chooses a domestic task from the Romney "chore wheel". In the evenings, the grandchildren put on talent shows on a stage built by grandpa Mitt, who also shows them how to roast S'mores (crackers topped with chocolate and marshmallow), and when the kids are in bed, the adult Romneys meet to chew over one of the son's work and/or parenting-related worries.

The prospect of the Romney Olympics being postponed for at least four years by the demands of the White House doesn't bear thinking about. This is precisely how the Waltons of Walton's Mountain, Virginia, would have spent their summers if only they'd been sitting on a $250m (£155m) Great Depression fortune… and as President Bush the Elder famously said, wouldn't it just be peachy if the average American family was a bit more like the Waltons, and a little less like the Simpsons? Goodnight Josh, goodnight Craig, goodnight Tagg, goodnight Madam First Lady, g'night Mr President.