April 1st, 2012
03:59 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney gets punk'd, April Fools style

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (CNN) - Two days before Wisconsin's pivotal primary, Mitt Romney was feeling good.

He'd recently predicted a win in the state, and – while Romney waited backstage to speak to a Milwaukee audience Sunday morning at a pancake brunch – Rep. Paul Ryan, one of the state's leading Republican officials, was enthusiastically introducing him onstage.

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Then Romney walked out to greet the audience – and faced a completely empty room.

"You know, it's April Fools Day. I forgot," Romney said later, standing in front of the real audience of Wisconsin voters who had been waiting upstairs. "They turned me into the April Fool this morning."

Romney explained how his staff and his two Republican backers – Ryan and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin – had pulled off the prank.

"My staff says to me, 'there's a small, it's a small, we didn't get much of a turnout this morning, it's really, it's really small but it'll be OK, it'll be OK,'" Romney recounted. "And so I hear Paul Ryan goes out there, gives the same introduction - what he just said. He's down there – 'and so now let's welcome Ron Johnson and Mitt Romney, the next president of the United States.'"

A press aide said the advance team – who cooked up the trick on Saturday night – played canned applause so the governor would not suspect the trick.

"So the two of us go out there and I go out there and it's completely empty. There's nobody there," Romney told the audience, while his smirking staffers laughed along. "It's like, oh boy, this is going to look really bad on the evening news, let me tell you."

Romney is famous among his family for pulling pranks and responded with good nature to the trick. But for his staff, this may not be the end of the matter.

"You guys, this is known as forgive but remember," Romney said.

Filed under: Mitt Romney • Paul Ryan • Ron Johnson • Wisconsin
soundoff (112 Responses)
  1. David in FL

    lighten up people, this was funny. You are all going to have serious heart issues if you don't learn to take a joke

    April 1, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  2. Polisantiry

    Ahh how cute. Look at that. Therefore, Romney must be an OK candidate.

    This has got to be the stupidest attempt to make Romney look like a Human being.

    Don't try to look like a Human, BE ONE

    April 1, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  3. Polisanity

    The problem with the Republicans is that the moderates are trying to force Romney down the throats of the Base. But the only reason they have the House is because of Tea Partiers – it wasn't friggin Bain Capitalists protesting Obama, as much as both Obama & Romney wished it.

    He destroyed himself & the base in trying to get a nomination for a party hes not connected to.

    Obama will cream the Republicans.

    April 1, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  4. AllrightyThen

    Unless something really nuts happens between now and November... He'll be a wannabe hasbeen come Nov...

    April 1, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  5. TCtitan10

    I thought the April Fools joke was when Paul Ryan said "Lets welcome Ron Johnson and Mitt Romney, the next president of the United States"

    April 1, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  6. Billy

    Ron Paul 2012.

    Welcome to reality Romney, no one wants to hear you speak.

    April 1, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  7. clarke

    Actually that is pretty funny, I would of liked to seen his expression.

    April 1, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. Humorous

    It is good to see candidates having a sense of humour. I look forward to Romney being our next president and bringing some fiscal sanity/prevention to the current impending financial multi-car pile-up.

    April 1, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  9. SurRy

    "Romney is famous among his family for pulling pranks..." Right. He seems like a laugh riot!

    April 1, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  10. SurRy

    "ha ha ha I remember when my father was the president of American Motors, ha ha, and he closed down the factory and, wait, this is where it gets funny, everyone lost their jobs, and then he went to Wisconsin, ha ha and they played the wrong college fight song...oh, my I crack myself up..."

    April 1, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. Colbert2012

    Mitt loves being in Wisconsin, the trees are just the right height, you've got the lakes...not just the great lakes, all of the little inland lakes that dot the...

    April 1, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  12. Wendy

    You all make yourself out to be so we're-so-social-consciousness hearthrobs, but when you attack Romney you sound ignorant and unable to express an intelligent opinion. I'm on the fence, but the more comment I read like this, the less I'm inclined to vote Democrat.

    April 1, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  13. List of X

    Mitt, an empty room is s perfect audience for your empty promises

    April 1, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. damo12345

    Eh. If legitimate and not just staged, not a bad prank. Terrible candidate, but if it was real... decent enough prank.

    Hey, give the dog his day.

    April 1, 2012 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  15. Patriot

    April Fools joke... no. Just a preview; empty room, empty candidacy.

    April 1, 2012 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  16. jeepguy6

    I think the story missed the point of the April Fools joke. The joke wasn't the empty room, it was Ryan introducing him as the next President.

    April 1, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  17. boronskie

    There's not much to destroy if it is already destroyed!

    April 1, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  18. manhandler1

    Actually, it was the news media that got punked. It was obviously a pathetic attempt to make Mr, Cardboard look somewhat human. "Oh, Yeah....HE was surprised!...heh heh heh" Face it .....the jokes on the media.

    April 1, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  19. Randy Johnson

    Good job Mitt!!! I am not a huge fan of his, but a little self-depricating humor makes me feel like he has a real personality. I hate to admit it but maybe this guy is able to go somewhere.

    April 1, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  20. Stopthemadness

    what do you mean turned you into a fool you have been a fool.

    April 1, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  21. Ame

    This whole story doesn't seem real. How come Romney could hear Ryan's introduction but not the clapping or chatter form the people inside the room and I expect that he was waiting just outside the room. Looks like a whole bunch of liars...

    April 1, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  22. Drew

    This is actually really funny, I'd forgotten that Republicans could have a sense of humour

    April 1, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  23. lynn

    so funny reminds me of the time my grandfather moved a plant from michigan to wisconsin . disrupting many peoples lives . ha ha ha .

    April 1, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  24. Lee

    @wire.........you mean something similar to what Obama has done?

    April 1, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  25. Thomas

    The rest of the world knows Mitt Romney is a phony .

    Only in America

    April 1, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
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