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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Romney plans posh weekend donor retreat featuring Rove and V.P. hopefuls

By , Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 11:26 AM

   Fresh off the best fundraising stretch of his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney plans to spend this weekend strategizing and fraternizing with his biggest bundlers at a posh resort in Park City, Utah.
   The presumptive nominee and his senior advisers and aides are hosting two days of policy sessions and campaign strategy discussions at a Deer Valley resort for more than 100 top fundraisers and their spouses. Those who raised more than $100,000 are expected to attend.
more than a dozen Republican heavy-hitters are scheduled to join the private retreat as special guests. According to a fundraiser who is attending, guests include some GOP stars believed to be contenders to be Romney’s vice presidential running mate: Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. John Thune (S.D.).
   Bush strategist Karl Rove, who helps run American Crossroads, the well-funded GOP super PAC, is planning to speak at the retreat, said the fundraiser, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the event. Rove’s appearance could raise questions because of campaign finance laws barring any coordination between super PACs and actual campaigns.
   Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, also is scheduled to attend, according to the fundraiser.
   Other guests slated to appear include former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and James A. Baker III, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Republican strategist Mary Matalin and conservative political commentators Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes.
   Many of Romney’s top aides and advisers will attend, including former Utah governor Mike Leavitt, whom Romney has tapped to begin planning his transition to the White House should he win the November election.
   Romney’s finance officials have touted the retreat as a way to reward top-performing bundlers who make their own donations and then raise many times that from within their network of friends and associates.
   The retreat, which will be closed entirely to the press, is set to begin Friday with a series of policy question-and-answer sessions with Romney. The donors will be briefed on campaign strategy and spend considerable time planning ways to build on the Romney campaign’s initial general election fundraising success. The campaign said it and the Republican National Committee jointly raised $76.8 million in May, far outpacing the $60 million President Obama and the    Democratic National Committee said they collected.
   At a May fundraiser, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, chairman of Romney’s New York finance operation, called the retreat “very, very important” for the campaign.
   The Utah retreat is a sort of homecoming for Romney, who lived in Park City for three years when he helmed the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Two of his sons, Josh and Ben, live in the area.
During the retreat, receptions and dinners with Romney and guests are planned for Friday and Saturday night, with dessert and dancing on the agenda for Saturday evening. The festivities continue on Sunday with golf.
   “You get to go home and tell your friends and family and colleagues, ‘I just spent the weekend with Mitt Romney,’ and all of that is really good for morale,” said a second fundraiser who will be there and who also was not authorized to speak publicly.

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