Generous donors get to rub shoulders with Romney at Utah retreat


More than 700 top fundraisers and donors to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign descended upon a Utah mountain resort Friday for a private retreat with the candidate and top GOP leaders, part of a meticulous strategy by the Republican candidate to woo deep-pocketed contributors.

The weekend of seminars and schmoozing at Deer Valley was the plum prize offered to the first 1,500 donors who gave at least $25,000 each to Romney’s campaign and fundraisers who brought in at least $100,000 by June 18. Another retreat is set to be held in the fall.

This weekend, guests will rub shoulders with some of the party’s biggest figures, including GOP strategist Karl Rove, Sen. John McCain, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Potential vice presidential picks such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Rep. Paul D. Ryan and South Dakota Sen. John Thune will be on hand. Romney’s wife, Ann, will host a tea with former Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill. There will be panel discussions on Israel, healthcare and the media, as well as a barbecue and golf.


“It gives all of us across the country who know each other often only through conference calls to meet and compare notes,” said New York financier Lewis Eisenberg, a veteran GOP fundraiser who is a member of Romney’s national finance committee. “It’s a chance to talk and rub shoulders with not only [Romney], but leaders of the party. It’s a big energizer.”

It will be a busy weekend for top conservative donors: Aside from Romney’s retreat, the billionaire Koch brothers are set to host their own private gathering in the San Diego area this weekend for wealthy political givers, according to Politico. And the Republican Jewish Coalition -- whose board includes casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and other top GOP money men -- is having its summer bash at a Beverly Hills hotel Sunday, featuring former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz.

That’s forced some top Republican fundraisers to make some difficult choices: Houston investor Fred Zeidman said he’ll be going to the RJC event, while his son, Jay, will attend the Deer Valley retreat. Adelson will be attending the Romney event, according to CBS News. It’s unclear if he will also make it to Beverly Hills.

Donor getaways have increasingly become de rigueur in presidential fundraising, taking cues from similar retreats in the corporate and academic worlds.George W. Bushhosted donors on his Texas ranch, and McCain invited fundraisers to join him in Sedona, Ariz., during his 2008 presidential bid.

“It gives people time with the candidate, time with other fundraisers, time with the senior staff,” said Bobbie Kilberg, a Virginia businesswoman who has raised “a substantial amount” for Romney. “It motivates people to go back out into communities and to increase their efforts.”