Grant Robertson is preparing for a photo and turns his coffee cup around to reflect the fact that he is left handed.
"Going for the left-handers vote, are we?" he is asked.
He grins. "Yes. Because what the party needs is more sectional interests."
It is a wee joke both at his own expense and Labour's. After the election, there was a frenzy of castigation for an apparent obsession with 'sectional interests' such as its quota for women.
If Robertson achieves his goal he will be the first gay Prime Minister and that will be historic. But there are some apparently worried it will put people off voting for Labour.
So Robertson has to patiently state his position, time and time again. It is this: "It's not relevant to how I do the job. I acknowledge it's different, I acknowledge there might be some people for whom that's an issue. But my question back is 'am I the right person to do the job?'"
Beyond that there is little he can do. His supporters defend him instead by making it clear they don't give a poop about his sexuality. Michael Cullen was one of those - accusing those who raised it of dog-whistling and "homophobia phobia" on his Facebook page.
Robertson is also criticised for being too Wellington-centric, a career politician. Robertson has been around politics for much of his adult life and for all his tweeting about rugby he does tend to talk in words which start with "re". His favourites are rejuvenate, rebuild and reconnect.
When it comes to policies, there is also review and he even gets "re-look" in at one point.
But he has learned from last time that re- words will only get you so far so. Now he's planning some plain talking. And he's borrowing it from the blunt weapon that was former MP Shane Jones.
Robertson has to ease himself into it. He goes on about being part of the communities and "the way we live our values" before he finally gets to the point. He wants to talk about hip pocket issues such as supermarkets, power prices and fat cat bankers being paid millions of dollars while the call centre workers struggle.
"In a way, Shane was onto something with the supermarket issue, in that it was very core to people's lives. But there's a lot more to that. New Zealanders pay too much for food if you look around the world relatively speaking."
It doesn't have quite the same ring as Jones' diatribe against Tony Soprano-like behaviour, "corruption, racketeering and blackmail" in the supermarket industry but it is progress.
Robertson has another trick up his sleeve: fun. He notes Key is a "relaxed communicator" and believes Labour has consistently underestimated him.
"We've got to be a bit more fun. I really do believe that. Seriously, we've got to stop talking about ourselves." But first there will be a post mortem.
Robertson agrees with Little's call to review policies, saying Labour had "an overdose of policies" last election. However, he said the first priority was to restore Labour's credibility "so I think he's missed a step out".
Part of that was delivering Labour's message in a consistent way. "Consistency is a very undervalued attribute in politics in my view."
Robertson will have some bridges to mend in caucus if he is leader. In the tortuous world of Labour's blame game, Robertson supporters have been blamed for undermining David Shearer, largely because Maryan Street was working on the no-confidence motion that forced his resignation.
Robertson says he did not know specifically about Street's proposal, although he had known there were concerns about Shearer's performance and had discussed them with him. He would not have moved against Shearer himself.
"I felt that as the deputy I needed to stay loyal to David. Obviously I knew people were concerned because that had been going on for some time. But that's not the same thing as moving against him."
In the aftermath of the election, his supporters again rubbed people up the wrong way by trying to force Cunliffe out to give Robertson an uncontested run. Robertson says he knew nothing about it.
"I think there was a lot of concern David Cunliffe had triggered the process in a way we couldn't have the period of reflection people wanted, but it certainly wasn't something I was driving."
This is Robertson's second tilt at the leadership. If he does not win, he intends to stay on and believes he can do this without undermining the leader.
"That's not me. I reject the notion I'm some kind of undermining force. I have been absolutely loyal to the leaders of the Labour Party both when I was a member of the party and then as an MP. I've done what leaders have asked of me while I've been there and I'm totally committed to the values of the party, the ideals that founded it. I will keep working for the party. At this point I've got no intention of walking away because I still have a contribution to make."
Little known fact: Robertson is allergic to eggs.