Tags: Trump Administration | Mitt Romney | romney | utah | gop | gathering | donors

At Utah Summit, GOP Hopefuls Seek Money and Romney's Elusive Endorsement

By    |   Saturday, 13 June 2015 07:58 PM

Six Republican presidential contenders and hopefuls attended a three-day summit in Utah hosted by 2012 candidate Mitt Romney that ended on Saturday — mingling with about 250 wealthy donors and vying for as much an edge in the money sweepstakes as an endorsement from the former Massachusetts governor.

But Romney was not tipping his hand toward any candidate.

"I think they're probably six or seven or eight who I would look at and say, 'That's someone where they and I agree on major issues,'" Romney said. "And they could be an effective president of the United States. And how it will sort out among those people. Time will tell.

"What I just can't predict is who is going to star in the debates," he added. "Who is going to put in the time in New Hampshire with all of the town meetings? Who's going to visit the different counties of Iowa? And then emerge?"

Held at the Stein Eriksen Lodge ski resort in Park City by Romney's E2 Foundation, the gathering brought together declared candidates Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida, and former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina.

Three governors participated who have not yet announced their candidacies: Chris Christie of New Jersey, John Kasich of Ohio, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was invited but could not attend because he is in Europe this week.

Dr. Ben Carson, the retired pediatric neurosurgeon who announced his candidacy last month, was among many others who were not invited.

"The 'Romney Summit' looks an awful lot like another club meeting of the political class," a campaign spokesman told Newsmax in a statement. "While we applaud any effort to enhance Republican chances of winning back the White House, the surest path is with the grass roots, not the failed Washington power brokers."

Carson spent the day speaking to college Republicans in Washington and attending campaign events in Florida.

"The Carson campaign just passed 150, 000 donors in 75 days of operation, and we are adding over 10,000 Facebook fans a day," the spokesman said. "That's where the true power of the Republican Party is — and that's where it belongs."

The high-powered donors at the summit backed Romney's 2012 campaign. They included Jon Lubert, founder of the money-management firm JL Squared Group LLC; Leonard Harlan, co-founder and CEO of Castle Harlan Inc., a private-equity company; and Kent Lucken, a Romney fundraiser who is backing Bush, who is expected to announce his candidacy on Monday.

Over the three days, the donors looked over some of the growing field of Republican candidates in formal and casual settings.

Hopefuls pitched their positions on issues ranging from national security to ending Obamacare, even attacking one another — directly and indirectly. Romney slammed President Barack Obama's foreign policy in an extensive PowerPoint presentation Friday night.

Some of the more relaxed events included playing flag football with Rubio and skeet-shooting with Graham at a local Lions Club range.

"Don’t shoot yourself in the foot; it’s the first goal of shooting skeet and the first goal of politics," Graham joked with reporters.

He later poked fun with his party: "Is that the press? Turn on em! Dream come true, they’re all in a wad."

In Friday's presentation — called "The Most Consequential Obama Foreign Policy Mistakes" — Romney detailed 20 of President Obama's blunders. They included his "Middle East apology tour" and the administration's "reset" with Russia.

"With all that bad news, is it not true that arguably President Obama is the worst foreign-policy president in history?" Romney asked, according to The Washington Post. "I think he is."

Those watching the presentation included Robert Gates, Obama’s former secretary of defense who spoke at the summit, and Yahoo news anchor Katie Couric.

Meanwhile, the presidential contenders later took shots at one another, though many did not name names.

Christie did, however.

"If you want to know how little they know," he said of the senators in White House bids, "watch what Rand Paul has done the last two weeks."

He attacked Paul, the Kentucky senator who jumped into the fray in April, for his stance against renewing the Patriot Act.

Christie cited Paul in arguing that senators were popular presidential candidates because "they don't have to do anything.

"If you don't have to do anything, you can be as popular as you like, because you can say anything," he said.

Graham and Kasich called on the eventual nominee to support some manner of immigration reform or risk losing the White House.

"Nobody is going to vote for a party that's going to break their family apart," Graham said. He added that the GOP's unpopularity with minorities and younger voters meant a "demographic death spiral."

Republicans should accommodate many of the illegal immigrants already here in the United States, Kasich said.

"They've been God-fearing, hard-working people in many cases," he said.

Walker piled on Christie's attacks on senators, saying they haven't accomplished anything in Washington.

The 2016 presidential class should be divided into two groups, the governor suggested.

"There are fighters and there are winners," Walker said in describing the fighters as senators. "They have yet to win anything and accomplish anything."

While not engaging Walker, Rubio drew sharp contrasts between older and younger candidates.

"Yesterday is over," said Rubio, 44, hinting at Bush and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. "The old ways of doing things aren't working anymore.

"Some have said I should have waited my turn," he added. "I didn't know there was a line."

The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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Six Republican presidential contenders and hopefuls attended a three-day summit in Utah hosted by 2012 candidate Mitt Romney that ended on Saturday - mingling with about 250 wealthy donors and vying for as much an edge in the money sweepstakes as an endorsement from the...
romney, utah, gop, gathering, donors
Saturday, 13 June 2015 07:58 PM
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