(FORTUNE) - On the Friday after the Fourth of July, while the Romney clan was enjoying an extended midsummer break at the family manse on New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee and photographers with telephoto lenses were snagging pictures of the candidate in swim trunks, real news was happening, unobserved, 100 miles away.
Nearly two dozen luminaries from the worlds of finance, government, and academe had gathered in secret behind smoked-glass windows in a three-story concrete office building on Commercial Street in Boston's North End - Romney campaign headquarters - for a meeting of the governor's recently assembled Economic Policy Steering Group. Some had only to cross the river from Cambridge. Others flew in from Chicago, D.C., and the West Coast. Tough duty in the middle of a holiday weekend, but as one participant says, anonymously, it was "for a good cause." Each had been requested by e-mail to "exercise discretion in keeping the contents of the discussion and the membership of the group private." Indeed, no one who was there will confirm for the record that the meeting even took place.