Mitt Romney kicks off a weekend retreat for wealthy donors in Park City, Utah, on Friday, offering backers the chance to mingle with campaign aides, Republican officials and the candidate himself at a series of events.
More than 500 donors are expected to attend the event, open only to individuals who have given $50,000 or are raising at least $250,000 to benefit his White House bid.
The mingling began on a flight to Salt Lake City last night, where executives, lobbyists, politicians and campaign staff chatted over lasagna and free drinks.
Donors tonight are invited to attend a cookout with the Republican presidential hopeful at Olympic Park, site of the 2002 winter games that Romney ran as chief executive officer.
Having decided not to take public financing for the general election, Romney has devoted much of his time since locking down his party’s nomination to flying across the country to woo top donors.
The retreat’s schedule at the famed Utah ski area includes closed-door gatherings with the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, as well as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and three officeholders who have been mentioned in news reports as Romney running-mate prospects: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, tapped to head Romney’s transition team for a potential presidency, will also attend.
Fundraisers will also receive private strategy briefings from campaign and party officials including former White House adviser Karl Rove, and lectures on foreign policy, energy and the financial sector, according to a schedule of events obtained from attendees. Former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and James Baker will be among those discussing foreign affairs.
The weekend concludes with a round of golf at Red Ledges, described as an “elite” private community featuring an award-winning 18-hole course designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Romney and the Republican Party outraised Democrats in this campaign cycle for the first time last month, collecting more than $76.8 million, nearly $17 million more than President Barack Obama and his allies.
Obama also has spent much time fundraising, including high- profile dinners at the homes of celebrities including George Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Obama’s campaign has disclosed the names of its so-called bundlers — those who pledge to raise large amounts of funds for him — while Romney’s campaign has refused to release a list of its top fundraisers.
In coming weeks, Romney has fundraising events scheduled in Aspen, Colo., New York City and Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Top donors to Romney already get access to weekly strategy calls and updates from campaign officials and other Republicans, efforts organized by aide Spencer Zwick. Potential donors have been invited to Romney’s vacation home on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire for lunch and boat rides.
The retreat is being held on familiar turf for Romney. He owned a seven-bedroom, 9,500 square-foot log cabin in Park City before selling it as he geared up for his 2012 presidential run.
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