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Mitt Romney is human! He pulls into a KFC!

January 26, 2008 |  3:36 pm

Presidential candidates on the campaign trail often have a hard time eating an entire meal, so busy are they shaking the hands of their banquet audiences captured at ballroom tables or in diners. And these last three days before the Republican primary in Florida are crucial, intense and packed.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is known for his discipline and health-conscious eating. So conscious is the candidate of what he eats that he regularly peels the cheese off a slice of pizza before taking a big bite.

So reporters were surprised a little while ago today when Romney's campaign caravan made an impromptu lunch stop and pulled into the parking lot of a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Lutz, Fla.

Romney, a regular runner, ordered fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, beans, coleslaw and a biscuit. But old habits die hard. He avoided any scrap of the breaded, fried chicken skin, carefully peeling it away before eating the chicken with a knife and a fork.

“I’m taking the skin off," he noted to onlookers crowded around him. "Underneath, it’s plain old chicken. They didn’t have any of the broiled chicken left.”

But, to be honest, Romney wasn’t totally good. Holding up the biscuit, he said, “This has just enough flour in it to hold the butter together.” Then he took a big bite.

He was surrounded by dozens of news people documenting every mouthful, reporters taking notes and cameramen filming and photographers photographing and sound men with boom mikes catching every sound.

“I feel sorry for you guys,” he said. “I get to eat. You get to watch me eat.”

Then, after several more bites, he shooed the press gang away.

“You’ve got enough footage," he said. "Go get some food."

-- Seema Mehta